By John Hutchinson

Were you there?

Thoughts for ANZAC Day

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'Were you there?' – 'Did you see it?' – 'What was it like?' These can be questions of critical importance.

Jesus was once heard to say, 'I'm glad I wasn't there.'

In a different context, I've said, 'I'm glad I wasn't there.'

I remember talking to a wheelchair-bound fellow who fought at Tobruk. His account of the terrible bombardments, life losses and his own injuries and orders 'to keep going no matter what' made me say, 'I'm glad I wasn't there.'

I talked to an old digger about life in the trenches in France in WW1 and thought, 'I'm glad I wasn't there.'

I've read about the trench charges at Gallipoli when young soldiers obeyed their commanding officers to be machine gunned to death within seconds. 'I'm glad I wasn't there.'

I've heard about mass prison camps and death marches and the incredible suffering and deprivation of Australians in WW2 - glad I wasn't there!

Then there was Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq and other engagements. And, I'm glad I wasn't there!

The somber fact is – so many were there and many didn't come home. The loss of one young Australian soldier, in itself, is a huge price to pay.

We who live in this great free land of Australia should be ever grateful for those who 'were there.'

'Were you there?' is significant at this time of year when we remember our soldiers who fell in various wars and have just celebrated Easter - the crucifixion of Jesus.

I love the words of the Negro spiritual – 'Were you there when they crucified my Lord, - were you there when they nailed Him to the tree? – were you there when they pierced Him in the side?' –the chorus says, 'Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble, were you there when they crucified my Lord?'

We weren't there, but some were and witnessed the awful sight. Some were there to mock, some to wonder, two looked on from nearby crosses. A Roman officer stood guard and listened and pondered and when Jesus finally died said, 'Truly, this Man was the Son of God.'

Like the soldiers who left for the battle fields Jesus went of His own free will to the situation which would impale him on a cross.

Like the brave who went to war He went to the cross for our sakes. He died for us. He died for our sins. Jesus said, 'I lay down my life for the sheep.'

The Negro's song continues: 'Were you there when He rose up from the tomb?'

It was the bodily resurrection of Jesus from the dead which authenticated all He said and did.

It's the resurrection of Jesus which is the basis of hope.

We weren't there, but in a sense we were and need to be. When we read the record and think about it we may well conclude, 'Truly, this Man was the Son of God.'

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