Mark 15:22-32
On A Hill

Next week will be Easter, the day—almost 2,000 years ago—that Jesus
rose from the dead. But before we can celebrate the resurrection, we
need to dwell on the crucifixion for without Jesus’ death, there
could be no resurrection.

God’s first description of Israel was as a land flowing with milk and
honey \\#Ex 3:8\\.  It must have been a beautiful land for the Bible
describes it as having fertile fields, abundant agriculture, and
abounding wildlife.  The land is nothing like this anymore.  Because
of Israel’s continued sin and the judgments it brought, the land of
Israel became barren, arid, dry, and mostly rock.  It is much better
today as the present-day Jews are working hard to make it a beautiful
and bountiful land once again.

With that in mind, let’s focus on one particularly hard and rocky
spot of land in Israel this morning. Let’s focus on Golgotha. It has
been my privilege to visit Israel twice. In those travels, I have
seen the two most likely places in Israel where Jesus might have been
crucified. I prefer to think of Gordon’s Tomb as the place of Jesus’
crucifixion, but honestly, we can’t know for certain.

So let’s consider what the Bible says of the place where Jesus was

I. \\#22\\ Golgotha means the place of the skull.
    A. As with so many facts in the Bible, the Bible does not
        elaborate on exactly where this location was or what it
        looked like.
        1. We are left to speculate on some of the details.
        2. I believe the Bible indicates that during the late hours
            of Wednesday night and the early hours of Thursday
            morning (sunset to sunrise time), our Lord was examined
            by Caiaphas, Annas, the Sanhedrin, Pilate, Herod, and
            then finally condemned by Pilate.
        3. Plotting these locations on a city map, they are scattered
            cover the southern and central area of Jerusalem.
        4. Knowing those locations, we can see that it is possible
            that Jesus was then taken out of the city through the
            northwest gate, called the Damascus Gate, to be crucified
            near the site of what today is called Gordon’s Tomb.
        5. Gordon’s Tomb is on a hill side and the hill itself bears
            an eerie resemblance to a skull.
        6. This spot was rediscovered in the 1800’s by General
            Charles Gordon and because of the skull image, it is
            accepted by many non-Catholics as the likely location of
            Jesus’ crucifixion.
    B. But even without knowing for certain the exact spot where
        Jesus was crucified, from the name alone we can deduce that
        it was not a desirable place.
        1. It is a place associated with death itself.
        2. A skull is the boney remains of a human head.
        3. Some believe that the place a common execution spot for
            criminals, perhaps not only for the Romans but also for
            the Jews.
        4. Some even speculate that the place got its name from the
            many unburied skulls and bones scattered about the place.
        5. If that is at all true, it would have been a place where
            Jews would not have gone for to be around the bones of
            the dead would have left them unclean.
        6. This place was then associated with death.
    C. \\#22\\ "they bring him."  Golgotha was not a place the good
        people voluntary went to and those who were brought there
        did not have good prospects for the future.
        1. Jesus did not lead the way to this place.
        2. He was taken, without resistance to be sure, but being
            forced to walk that path as a sheep being lead to the
        3. And why was this journey being forced upon Him?  Because
            Jesus had a rendezvous with death at this place.
        4. Those taken to the Place of the Skull do not walk back!
    D. The skull is associated with death and those who were brought
        to this place DIE.  So who are the people brought here?

II. \\#28\\ It was the place for the transgressors.
    A. Those who were brought to this place were criminals,
        murderers, sinners both before man and God.
    B. These were transgressors and they had transgressed the law.
        1. Transgressed means to step over or to brake out of.
        2. The law, man’s and God’s, is a book of rules.
        3. It sets boundaries.
        4. Those who are under the law are supposed to stay within
            the boundaries.
        5. If you go outside the boundaries, you have transgressed
            the law (i.e. stepped over the boundary or broken out of
            the boundaries.)
    C. Those were supposed to be the only kinds of people brought to
        1. \\#27\\ So it is that two thieves were brought to this
            (a) They had taken things which did not belong to them.
                 That was against the law.  They broke a boundary,
                 one set by God and agreed to by Rome.
            (b) Notice, the Bible did not tell us what they stole or
                 why they stole it.
            (c) Perhaps they had a reason—maybe even a good reason.
                 (1) Was it food because they were hungry?
                 (2) Was it a tool to perform a task?
                 (3) Was it money that they were going to spend on
                      their family?
            (d) There is no mention of what and why they stole
                 because the law does not concern itself with such
                 (1) The law just draws the boundaries and punishes
                      those who step out of it—who transgress it.
                 (2) Many think that the law will take into
                      consideration the reasons we transgress.  If
                      they have a good reason for doing so, they
                      assume the law will be merciful,
                      BUT THAT IS NOT TRUE.
                 (3) Those considerations are the discretion of the
                      Judge—not the law.
                 (4) If you want your reasons and considerations to
                      be taken into consideration, you better pray
                      for a merciful judge!
                 (5) The law only looks at the boundary and gives
                      the same punishment to all who transgress it.
                 (6) Transgressors belong on Golgotha.
        2. \\#Luke 23:39-40\\ tells us that one of the thieves also
            railed on Christ.  That is, he doubted and mocked Jesus.

Luke 23:39  And one of the malefactors which were
hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ,
save thyself and us.
40  But the other answering rebuked him, saying,
Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the
same condemnation?

            (a) No doubt, the man did not believe that Jesus was God,
                 but his ignorance did not excuse the fact that he
                 blasphemed God.
            (b) That too was a violation of the law.
            (c) In fact, blasphemy was the main charge the religious
                 leaders used to hang Jesus on that cross.
                 (1) They said that Jesus was the blasphemer because
                      He made Himself to be God.
                 (2) Interestingly, they were crucifying Jesus for
                      the very crime that they were committing!
                 (3) And do it is.  Jesus was being crucified for the
                      sins the people who crucified committed.
        3. While we are considering transgressors, we need to
            consider another who was headed for the cross that day,
            but he did not make it, Barabbas.

Mr 15:7  And there was one named Barabbas, which
lay bound with them that had made insurrection
with him, who had committed murder in the

            (a) The Bible says that Barabbas was an insurrectionist
                 and a murderer.
                 (1) An insurrectionist is one who wants to overthrow
                      the government.
                 (2) Again, that was a crime that Jesus was accused
                 (3) However, it also says that Barabbas was a
                      murderer—that is something no one can accuse
                      Jesus of!
                 (4) In fact, Jesus came to give life.
            (b) It was not merely Roman law that said Barabbas had
                 done these things.  God wrote in the Bible that
                 Barabbas had done them—so it was true!
            (c) Yet Barabbas did not get hung on the cross.  A cross
                 was built for him.  It was staked out in on
                 Golgotha.  His name would have been attached to the
                 top of it, but it never happened.
            (d) Why? Because Jesus hung on Barabbas’ cross.
                 (1) Here is a literal substitution.
                      (a) The guilty man, Barabbas, was set free and
                           the innocent Man, Jesus, was crucified.
                      (b) The insurrectionists was let go and a Man
                           falsely accused of insurrection was hung
                           in his place.
                      (c) This is what the substitution of the cross
                           is all about.
                 (2) But there is also a strange irony here.
                      (a) Barabbas had killed. He had taken human
                           life; but Jesus came to give life.
                      (b) In fact, at the time of Jesus’ crucifixion,
                           He had already raised at least three
                           people from  the dead (maybe there were
                           others that the Bible did not speak of).
                      (c) The irony is that the Giver of Life was
                           killed and the man who took life was let
                      (d) Yet, by taking the Giver of life’s life, He
                           gave life to all who would call upon Him.
                      (e) What an irony!
    D. Yes, this place is the place of the transgressors.

III. The place of judgment.
    A. That is only logical based on what I have already said.
        1. I called it a place of death and a place of the
        2. That only makes sense that it is a place of judgment.
        3. But I want to make sure you understand that this earthly
            hill became on that day, much more than merely a place of
            man’s judgment.
        4. It was a place of God’s judgment.
    B. We like to think of the earthly and spiritual being completely
        separate from one another, but they are not.
        1. Golgotha was a place of both earthly and heavenly
        2. Men could see the earthly judgment, but no human eye could
            see the heavenly fire that was being poured out upon
            Jesus as He hung on that cross.
        3. We read of the physical agony that Jesus endured—and it
            was great.
            a. Isaiah tells us that He was beaten with a cat-of-nine-
                tails until He was not recognized.
            b. History tells us that spikes were driven into what we
                would call His wrists and feet to secure Him to the
            c. Science tells us that His heart worked hard to pump
                what little blood remained in His body through
                whatever veins and arteries remained in tact.
            d. Physicians tell us that He would have struggled to
                breathe, pushing His body up and down the wooden
                cross until His heart gave out or He smothered to
            e. The Bible tells us that this went on for six hours and
                then Jesus gave His spirit permission to leave His
        4. But what the Bible does not elaborate on is that while man
            was punishing Jesus’ body, God was pouring the furry of
            hell upon His soul.
            a. The price of sin could not be paid with mere physical
            b. Many were the men and even women who endured the agony
                of the cross—although I believe Jesus felt much more
                of the pain because His body did not die.  Every
                nerve, every cell, every muscle, every tendon, every
                bone—felt the last blow, the last lash, prick, the
                last twitch of pain as the much as the first.
            c. But even so, it was not the physical torment that paid
                for our sins, it was the spiritual.
            d. God poured out our hell upon Jesus, the Christ.
            e. For those six hours, Jesus endured the torments of our
                eternal damnation—and what they means, I have no
                (1) Did God stop time so that Jesus could endure a
                     timeless damnation in what seemed like six hours
                     to those there.
                (2) Did God condense an eternity of damnation into
                     just six hours and pour it all upon Jesus in
                     that short time frame?
                (3) Or was Jesus, because of His holiness and
                     divinity, able to endure in six hours of
                     separation from God what would equal or even
                     exceed an eternity of separation for all of us?
                (4) I do not know but I do know that there was more
                     judgment on that spot of earth than in all of
                     other spots of earth combined!

IV. The place of a proof.
    A. \\#32\\ A challenge was dropped.  It was a vain challenge for
        even if Jesus had come off the cross, they probably still
        would not have believed.
    B. Jesus would actually prove that He was the Christ in just
        three days—not by coming off the cross but by coming out of
        the tomb, but should be next week’s sermon.
    C. But Jesus staying on the cross did prove something.
        1. It proved how much God loved fallen man and to what
            extreme God would go to redeem him.
        2. Thus Jesus spoke in John.

John 3:16  For God so loved the world, that he
gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever
believeth in him should not perish, but have
everlasting life.

    D. You think what you will about the cross of Jesus Christ, I
        know some things to be true.
         1. I know that Jesus was God in the flesh.
         2. I know that Jesus lived a sinless life.
         3. i know that Jesus died a substitutionary death.
         4. I know that Jesus did it all because He loved us.
    E. Our sign had these words written on it for several weeks.
        "Jesus knows me, this I love."
         1. Of course, by writing that familiar line that way, it
             evoked two great thoughts.
         2. Because the way we normally say it is, "Jesus loves me
             this I know," it reminded us of God’s great love for us.
         3. But the way it was written also reminded us that God
             knows us and we ought to love that as well.

Today, as we remember the place where Jesus died, let us remember
God both knows us and loves us.  He proved it on the cross.

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