When African American slaves sang “Were you there when they crucified my Lord,” they were not only recalling the day of Jesus’ crucifixion, they were bringing the event into their current situation to comfort and inspire them to endure the pain of slavery. It was similar to what Moses told the second generation of Israelites. He told them to realize that God’s appearance at Mt Sinai was not just for the people who stood there that day, it was also for future generations. We read in Deuteronomy Chapter 4, “Be careful never to forget what you yourself have seen. Do not let these memories escape from your mind as long as you live! And be sure to pass them on to your children and grandchildren.  Never forget the day when you stood before the LORD your God at Mount Sinai.” Future generations were to recall that event as though they were standing in His presence that day. Just as they were to recall that awesome experience, our Lord wants us to recall the day He suffered and died. As we revisit and relive the day our Lord suffered, we not only respond in gratitude that he agonized in our place, we also gain inspiration to cope with the painful experiences we may face today—like rejection, racism, or other forms of mistreatment.

Dr. Melvin E. Banks, Sr. is the founder and chairman of UMI (Urban Ministries, Inc.). Under his direction, UMI has grown to be a leading publisher of Christian education resources for churches in the African American community. Read More

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