Friday, April 10, 2009
Golgotha is a real place, once a hill in Jerusalem where Jesus Christ was nailed to a cross and died for our sins. Be it in Latin, Greek, or Aramaic, the word or term that we know today as 'Golgotha' means 'the place of the skull'. That is also how it was described in all four of the Biblical Gospels. There are many important places in human history where events have taken place that have shaped humanity. There are none more important than Golgotha, for it was here that Jesus died so that you and I, and indeed the entire human race, might have the chance at eternal salvation. Jesus had been arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane, had to endure six separate hearings or trials in one overnight and morning period, been beaten, whipped, and mocked, and had a crown of thorns embedded into his forehead. The Romans had hoped that this unmerciful treatment would satisfy the Jewish leaders' appetite for Jesus' blood, but it did no good. Their cry continued to be "Crucify him!" And so that is what Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor over Judea, ordered to be done. It is very hard to imagine how we can now refer to the remembrance of these events as 'Good Friday', for there was nothing good about the way that Christ was treated. With his back, arms, and legs scarred and bleeding from the beating, he was forced in the morning sun to carry his own cross up the rugged embankments of the hill known as Golgotha. When he reached the exact place that the execution was to take place, his hands and feet were tied and then nailed to the cross. His cross was then raised up and placed into a holding 'ring' which had been struck into the stone for support. Here hung the Son of God, who had come down to Earth as man to achieve this very purpose, in the hot baking sun for three hours. Then at noon the sky went suddenly dark. As Jesus hung on the cross during this period of darkness, God withdrew Himself, and Christ bore the full weight of the sins of all mankind, you and I and all men throughout history, utterly alone. At approximately 3:00pm, Christ uttered his final words: "Father, into your hands I commend my spirit." He breathed his last and gave up his spirit. A great earthquake rocked the land as tombs were split open and the Temple veil was torn from top to bottom. Taking in this dramatic site, a stunned and awed Roman centurion stated "Truly this was God's son!" His body was then taken down and away by Joseph of Arimathea, to be prepared for burial in a nearby tomb belonging to Joseph's family. The place where Christ was crucified and buried now lies fully within the boundaries of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. The church was built by the Roman emperor Constantine, who had converted to Christianity in the 4th century and whose mother, Helena, had researched and discovered the exact site of Christ's crucifixion, which had occurred some three hundred years earlier. Sometimes called by the gentler name of 'Calvary', it is a menacing name, Golgotha, "the place of the skull", and it was the site of one of the most important events in human history. We should recall those events today with awe, with acknowledgement of the guilt that we all share in creating them, and with thanks for the sacrifice made by our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. NOTE: As always, the title of this article is a link to further information, this time to a site devoted to information and pictures of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.