Gospel Gazette Online
Vol. 13 No. 11 November 2011
Page 5

The Place Called Calvary

Mark N. PoseyThe death of Christ is the most significant event in the history of humanity. It is the central event in the history of every individual. So few words are used to describe this enormously significant event. In Luke 23:33 we read, “And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left.” These words speak of suffering, shame and sacrifice; treachery, trouble and triumphant; deceit, death and determination; sin, salvation and sacrifice.

What does Scripture say about the location? First, it was near the city (John 19:20). Second, a garden was in its immediate vicinity (John 19:41). Third, it was near some public thoroughfare (Matthew27:39). However, we do not know its exact location, why it had such a name as “skull” or if it was “on a hill” as the song indicates. Skulls were probably lying about. It was a place of public execution, and it possibly had a skull-like feature. Nevertheless, it was a terrible place and the name was certainly appropriate with the events that took place there. The names “Golgotha” (Hebrew) and “Calvary” (Latin), both mean “skull.” The location of this “place of a skull” (Matthew27:33) is a matter of dispute, but evidence favors “Gordan’s Calvary.” It is a few hundred feet northeast of the old Damascus Gate outside the old city walls (Hebrews 13:12).

The pronoun “they” refers to the soldiers in this passage. However, according to Scripture, many shared in the guilt of Jesus’ death. The Jewish leaders were guilty. Luke 23:1-2 says, “And the whole multitude of them arose, and led him unto Pilate. And they began to accuse him, saying, We found this fellow perverting the nation, and forbidding to give tribute to Caesar, saying that he himself is Christ a King.” Jesus was murdered because He threatened their “place” (John 11:48).

The Jewish people in general were guilty. John 1:11 says, “He came to his own, and his own received him not.” Matthew 27:25 says, “Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us and on our children.” Acts 2:22-23 says, “Ye men of Israel, hear these words… ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain.”

Pilate, the 5th Roman Procurator of Judea, was guilty. Pilate “delivered Jesus to their will” (Luke 23:25). Tradition says that Tiberius recalled Pilate from Judea and banished him to Vienna, where he committed suicide in A.D. 41 because of his decision concerning Jesus. Although Pilate did not “find guilt in this man,” his actions contributed to His death.

Herod, the Tetrarch of Galilee and Perea, was guilty. Pilate said, “No not ever Herod: for I sent you him; and, lo, nothing worthy of death is done unto him” (Luke 23:15).

The soldiers, who participated in the punishment and death of Christ, were guilty. Notice the acts of mockery these soldiers inflicted upon Jesus: dressed Him in purple, crowned Him with thorns, mocked Him, beat Him, spat upon Him and knelt and bowed to insult Him (Mark 15:16-20). Although it may be argued that they were merely carrying out their duty, the mistreatment they inflicted indicates a certain enjoyment on their part.

All mankind must share in the guilt. Brother Franklin Camp once preached on this subject. He asked the question: “Who crucified Jesus?” The first point in his sermon was – “YOU DID!” Your sins and mine caused Jesus’ death. Paul said, “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Isaiah said, “He was wounded for our transgressions” (Isaiah 53:5).

Crucifixion was a horrible method of execution, but practiced by many ancient cultures, beginning with the Persians. It was used as punishment for such crimes as treason, robbery, piracy, desertion and sedition. However, Christ was not crucified for criminal activities, but for my sins and yours (1 Corinthians 15:3; 1 John 2:2; Isaiah 53:5).

Jesus experienced both physical and emotional pain on the cross. First, in the Garden, He prayed so fervently, “his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground” (Luke 22:44). This describes the medical condition known as Hematidrosis (“bloody sweat”). The blood vessels rupture into sweat glands and blood flows out with the sweat of the brow. This may occur in highly emotional or stressful states. Second, in Jerusalem, He was scourged. The scourging room had a post two feet high. An iron ring, placed close to the top, projected from two sides to which the one being punished would hold. The usual instrument was called a flagrum or flagellum. It was a short whip with several strips of leather with small iron balls, sheep bone and sharp rocks tied at varying intervals. Each time this whip was struck against the back of the victim, it left gaping cuts and open bleeding wounds. Jesus was probably in serious to critical condition before they even crucified Him. Third, at Calvary, He was crucified. He suffered five major wounds between nine in the morning and just before sunset. Four nails were used to affix Him to the cross. The nails were 5 to 7 inches long and about 3/8” square. The last wound was from a spear piercing His side after death (John 19:34). This was to insure death. It was a cruel act. The standard procedure to finalize death was to break the victim’s legs so that he could not lift himself to exhale. This was a fulfillment of prophecy (Psalm 34:20).

Jesus’ emotional pain is revealed through the words He spoke from the cross. Notice His seven sayings from the cross. First, Luke 23:34, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Second, Luke 23:43, “Verily I say unto thee, today shalt thou be with me in paradise.” Third, John 19:26-27, “Woman behold thy son… behold thy mother.” Fourth, Matthew 27:46, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Fifth, John 19:28, “I thirst.” Sixth, John 19:30, “It is finished.” Seventh, Luke 23:46, “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.” After considering all that Jesus endured, I appreciate much more what He did for me.

It was the Son of God that was crucified (John 3:16). The angels called Him “savior” in Luke 2:11. The words to a familiar song are penetrating: “When I survey the wondrous cross.” Through the eye of faith, I see Him there. He is the Son of God who died so that I might live. What do you see? I see someone first that treated people with respect. No matter how harsh and arrogant people were, He was always kind and respectful (Ephesians 4:32). Second, He practiced what he preached. His life and teaching were in perfect harmony (Matthew 7:29). Third, He appealed to people’s deepest needs. Our deepest need is the forgiveness of sins. Jesus came to this world to save sinners (Luke 19:10; 1 Timothy 1:15). Fourth, He cared enough to die. He died that I might live (Matthew 20:28; Mark 10:45).

The death of Christ is the most significant event in the history of humanity. It can be the central event in the life of every individual if they allow it.


Ed Benesh

Ed Benesh“If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you” (Romans 8:11).

In 1920, the 18th amendment to our constitution was adopted to ban the consumption of alcohol. Most simply refer to this as “Prohibition.” However, thirteen years later the 21st amendment repealed the eighteenth, revealing to us the validity of the phrase “you can’t legislate morality.” While only partially true, it is true nonetheless. Why? Well, prohibition proved that alcohol was not the problem, just like guns, sex and gambling are not problems. As the old saying goes, “Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.”

The problem is our lack of self-control, which would also be difficult to legislate. We do not need gun control or stricter laws about the availability of sex or gambling. We need more self-control. We need less of the flesh and more of the Spirit. Fortunately, our loving Heavenly Father has made us an offer that is just too good to refuse. You see, if you will allow it, God can come into your life, bringing control and godliness so you may be more like Christ. By His spirit we can be empowered to live above the evil influences of the world, and thus the problems that stem from them. In this day, let the Spirit of God live within you and have control.

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