Golgotha

John 19:17-19.

And He bearing His cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha:

Where they crucified Him, and two others with Him, on either side one, and Jesus in the midst.

And Pilate wrote a title, and put it on the cross. And the writing was, JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS.

(You can read the other accounts in Mat 27:32–56Mar 15:21–41Luk 23:26–49. John’s account is very different because, again, this gospel was written to present Jesus as the Son of God. There are no contradictions in the gospels; only different perspectives.)

I can’t figure out how to make these images go side-by-side. I’m sure it’s not that hard, and I will figure it out. Just not now. I used the two images together to show clearly, in the top, why it was called The Place of the Skull. In the painting, it’s not as clear.

Pilate had made his final judgment, and Jesus was led away by the Roman soldiers to the place of His crucifixion. The scriptures say that, as was the Roman custom, He carried His cross as He climbed to the top of Golgotha. There is some thinking out there that those who were to be crucified carried only the crossbeam, and not the entire structure. This was perhaps because the victims were already so weakened by the scourging. The soldiers didn’t want their victims to die too quickly, thereby ruining their enjoyment of the agony of those who suffered.

History tells us that the cross was actually first used by the Persians, therefor not original to Rome. However, Rome “improved” the process to make it as miserable as possible. It was not unusual for victims to suffer for up to three days before they finally died. In order to hurry the deaths, it was common to break the legs of the victims so they could not push themselves up to allow the expansion of their lungs as they tried to draw in a breath. The Jewish leaders wanted this execution to come to a hasty conclusion because the Passover feast was drawing nigh. They didn’t want to risk being unclean by having Jesus and the criminals on either side of Him still alive and causing a stir during the Passover.

Pilate had ordered a sign to be placed on the top of the upright beam, above Jesus’ head. It read, JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS in three languages: Hebrew, Greek, and Latin. It was just one more mockery of Jesus. What rightful king would be in such dire straits?

For Rome, it was just another execution. Two criminals were crucified with Him, one on either side of the center cross of Jesus. Some of the soldiers gambled over His garments. Others, I’m sure, wiled away the time with wine and food, oblivious and uncaring of the agony being suffered by their victims.

Crucifixion was nothing new to the Romans. It was rarely used for a Roman citizen, but was reserved for those who were considered unworthy of a less painful and humiliating death:

Crucifixion was so awful and degrading that polite Romans wouldn’t talk about it in public. The Roman statesman Cicero said of crucifixion: “It is a crime to bind a Roman citizen; to scourge him is an act of wickedness; to execute him is almost murder: What shall I say of crucifying him? An act so abominable it is impossible to find any word adequately to express.” The Roman historian Tacitus called crucifixion “A torture fit only for slaves.”

Guzik, Blue Letter Bible

So why did God choose such an ignoble and horrible death for Jesus? It is because He was suffering in our place, we who are slaves to sin until we look to Jesus for forgiveness and redemption. He was lifted up on the cross so that we could look to Him, and be forgiven. He was the only perfect sacrifice to cleanse us from our sin. Wholly God, wholly Man.

What we need to recognize is the UNholiness of our sin.

2 thoughts on “Golgotha

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