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 crucified. 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 slaughter. 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 Golgotha. 1. \\#27\\ So it is that two thieves were brought to this place. (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 things. (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 insurrection. (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 of. (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 go. (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 transgressors. 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 judgment. 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 cross. 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 death. e. The Bible tells us that this went on for six hours and then Jesus gave His spirit permission to leave His body. 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 punishment. 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 idea. (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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