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A PLACE CALLED GOLGOTHA
Intro: Before the world was formed God set an amazing plan into motion. Before there the sun, moon stars and planets were formed; before God made man in His image; before there was even light in the universe; God determined to send His Son to die for sinners. Listen to some precious verses from the Word of God.
· Revelation 13:8, “And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.
· Ephesians 1:4, “According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love.
· Titus 1:2, “In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began.
· 1 Peter 1:19-20, “But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you.
I know we have a hard time grasping those truths, but the fact is, if you are saved, you have been on the heart of God for a long time. God determined that He would save you in Jesus Christ, before He ever formed the world. Then, God sent His Son into the world to die on the cross so that you would be saved. What God formulated in eternity was fulfilled in time! Listen again to 1 Peter 1:20, “Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you.
Every moment of our Lord’s life, from His conception to His arrest and trial, was designed to lead Him to the very moment we will study today. In a very real sense Jesus Christ was born to die. He came into this world that He might give His life a ransom for His people, so that they might be eternally saved, Matt. 1:21; Mark 10:45.
Today, we will follow our Savior to Calvary. We will watch as He suffers for our sins. Let’s follow Him with a sense of reverence to A Place Called Golgotha. In Mark 15:22, the Bible says, “And they bring Him unto the place Golgotha... It is that awful, but glorious place that has my attention today.
I want you to see several facts about A Place Called Golgotha today. My prayer is that we will see Jesus as He willingly gives His life to redeem us from our sins. It is my prayer that the lost sinner will see His need of a Savior. It is also my prayer that every truly redeemed saint of God will remember the awful price He paid for us and that we will fall in love with Jesus once again. By God’s help, I want to preach about A Place Called Golgotha.
I. v. 22-23 IT WAS A PLACE
· When soldiers arrived at Golgotha with Jesus, they offered Him “wine mingled with myrrh to drink. This was a narcotic mixture. It was not designed for the condemned mans comfort; it was designed for the soldiers convenience. They did not care how much Jesus and other condemned men suffered. They offered them the drink because it kept the prisoners from struggling as they nailed them to the cross. They did it because it made their jobs easier. The prisoners who were drugged did not fight the soldiers. They did not struggle and scream against the pain of being nailed to the cross as much as those who were not drugged first.
· When Jesus is offered the mind-numbing drink, He refuses. Why would He do that? Jesus came to this world to die for sin, John 18:37. He came to drink the dregs of His Father’s cup of wrath, Mark 14:36; Isa. 51:17. He came to die for the innocent, 1 Pet. 3:18; 2 Cor. 5:21.
There really weren’t any choices for Jesus that day. He was there to complete the Father’s plan of redemption. He was there to make the Gospel of grace a reality. He was there to unlock the door of salvation and kick it open wide so that all those who would come to Jesus could come and be saved!
· Jesus wanted to do what He was about to do with a clear mind. Jesus willingly endured all the physical, mental, spiritual and emotional agonies of the cross, without any relief. He desired to suffer the full measure of the punishment I deserved. He did it for me and I praise Him for that.
· Jesus also did what He did to fulfill ancient prophesy. Isaiah 53:7-8, “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.
The soldiers did not have to force Jesus onto that cross. They did not have to hold Him down as they drove those spikes into His hands and feet. They did not have to endure His curses and His screams as they nailed Him to the cross. No, as the songwriter says, “He suffered it all because He loved me!
I. It Was A Place Of Choices
II. v. 24-28 IT WAS A PLACE
· The Bible is an amazing book. All four Gospel writers write about the crucifixion, but the event itself is never described. The most important events in human history is simply described by the words, “and they crucified Him. The day God lifted high His holy banner of everlasting love for sinners is reduced to a simple four word sentence.
The Bible may not give us much in the way of description, but it does let us know that the crucifixion of Jesus on the cross of Calvary was a very important event. In fact, the cross is the centerpiece of all history. The day Jesus was crucified was the day sin and Satan were forever defeated for all those who believe.
· The crucifixion is an event that deserves a closer look. The crucifixion of Jesus Christ on the cross is an event that should grip the hearts of the redeemed. It should fill us with praise and worship. It is an event that should cause the lost sinner to stop and look heavenward in wonder and faith toward a God Who loved the lost sinner enough to allow His Son to die in such a fashion.
Frederick Farrar, in his book The Life Of Christ, describes a crucifixion in this way:
A death by crucifixion seems to include all that pain and death can have of the horrible and ghastly - dizziness, cramps, thirst, starvation, sleeplessness, traumatic fever, shame, publicity of shame, long continuance of torment, horror of anticipation, mortification of intended wounds-all intensified just up to the point at which they can be endured at all, but all stopping just short of the point which would give to the sufferer the relief of unconsciousness.
The unnatural position made every movement painful; the lacerated veins and crushed tendons throbbed with incessant anguish; the wounds, inflamed by exposure, gradually gangrened [when a victim took several days to die]; the arteries-especially at the head and stomach-became swollen and oppressed with surcharged blood, and while each variety of misery went on gradually increasing, there was added to them the intolerable pang of a burning and raging thirst, and all these physical complications caused an internal excitement and anxiety, which made the prospect of death itself-of death, the unknown enemy, at whose approach man usually shudders most-bear the aspect of a delicious and exquisite release.
One thing is clear. The first century executions were not like the modern ones, for they did not seek a quick, painless death nor the preservation of any measure of dignity for the criminal. On the contrary, they sought an agonizing torture which completely humiliated him. And it is important that we understand this, for it helps us realize the agony of Christ’s death.[i]
· The procedure of crucifixion may be summarized as follows. The patibulum was put on the ground and the victim laid upon it. Nails, about 7 inches long and with a diameter of roughly 3/8 of an inch) were driven in the wrists. The points would go into the vicinity of the median nerve, causing shocks of pain to radiate through the arms. It was possible to place the nails between the bones so that no bones fractured.
Studies have shown that nails were probably driven through the small bones of the wrist, since nails in the palms of the hand would not support the weight of a body. In ancient terminology, the wrist was considered to be part of the hand. (Davis)
Standing at the crucifixion sites would be upright posts, called stipes, standing about 7 feet high.(Edwards) In the center of the stipes there was sometimes a crude seat, called a sedile or sedulum, which served a support for the victim. The patibulum was then lifted on to the stipes. The feet were then nailed to the stipes. To allow for this, the knees had to be bent and rotated laterally, being left in a very uncomfortable position. The titulus was hung above the victim's head.
When the cross was erected upright, there was tremendous strain put on the wrists, arms and shoulders, resulting in a dislocation of the shoulder and elbow joints.(Metherall) The arms, being held up and outward, held the rib cage in a fixed end inspiratory position which made it extremely difficult to exhale, and impossible to take a full breath. The victim would only be able to take very shallow breaths. (This may explain why Jesus made very short statements while on the cross). As time passed, the muscles, from the loss of blood, last of oxygen and the fixed position of the body, would undergo severe cramps and spasmodic contractions.[ii]
That is some of what the Lord Jesus suffered to save sinners. Are you saved? If you are, let the cross move you to a heightened state of obedience and love for Him. If you are not saved, oh sinner, come to Him today and be saved by His grace!
· The deaths of Jesus of Nazareth and the two thieves that day was just business as usual for the Romans. The deaths of three Jewish men never even made a blip on Rome’s radar. I want you to know that while earth didn’t see the significance of what was happening that day, the death of Jesus Christ made news in Heaven!
The Father witnessed the death of the Son, and He was satisfied, Isa. 55:11. Sin’s penalty had been forever paid and sinners could be saved. The crucifixion of the Lord Jesus Christ opened a way to God that will never be closed. Now, all those who come to Him by faith, trusting His death on the cross and resurrection from the dead as their sole hope of salvation, will be eternally saved by the grace of God. (Ill. Rom. 10:9; 13) That is what He did to redeem us from our sins!
I. It Was A Place Of Choices
II. It Was A Place Of Crucifixion
III. v. 24, 29-32 IT WAS A PLACE
(Ill. People like to think that humanity is basically good. The truth is far different! Man, in his natural state, is a totally defiled, absolutely corrupt being. Left to himself, man will always choose a downward, evil path. That is the teaching of Eph. 2:1-3 and Rom. 3:10-23. There is no good in mankind. Man is hopelessly defiled and hopelessly evil. He cannot do good, and he cannot change his own heart. In fact, he has no desire to.
The ugly depths of human depravity was clearly on display that day at Calvary. Mankind came face to face with his Creator. Man did not bow to Him. Man did not worship Him. Man did not honor Him. When mankind came face to face with the Creator on Calvary, man killed his God.
That’s right! Many of the people at Calvary that day were decent people, by other people’s standards. They were good to their neighbors. They paid their debts. They lived their lives and raised their families. Many would have looked at them and would have called them good. Those so-called “good people murdered God when they were given the chance! Notice how the cruelty of man was put on display at a place called Golgotha.)
· The Cruelty Displayed By The Soldiers, v. 24 After the soldiers nailed Jesus to the cross, they sat down at His feet and gambled over the only possessions He had in this world, the very clothes on His back. This was done to fulfill ancient prophecies, Psa. 22:18.
The actions of these men also demonstrates just how hard and wicked the heart of man can be. These hard hearted soldiers turned a blind eye and a deaf ear to the sufferings of the Lord Jesus that day. There was not one ounce of compassion for the Lord Jesus Christ that day at Calvary!
· The Cruelty Displayed By The Passing Crowds, v. 29-30 As Jesus was hanging on the cross at Calvary, there was a great number of people gathered to watch Him and the other men die. The phrase they that passed by is in a tense that suggests they kept on passing by. In other words, there was no lull in the action. One after the other, people kept walking by the cross of Jesus.
As they did, we are told that they “wagged their heads. In that society, this was a sign of contempt and derision. These people hated Jesus and wanted Him dead!
We are also told that they “railed on Him. The word railed means to blaspheme. They repeated the false charges leveled at Jesus by the Jewish leaders. They mocked His claim that He would rise from the dead, v. 29b. They mocked His claims to be the Saviour of the world, v. 30. (Ill. Luke 19:10; Mark 10:45)
The people that passed by Jesus that day were not concerned by His sufferings. They did not care that He was in great torment. They did not care that He was dying. All they cared about was mocking Him as He died. That is humanity! That is what people without Jesus Christ are really like. This is the same spirit that causes people to stand on the sidewalk and call up for a suicidal person to jump from a building. They are capable of the most depraved acts imaginable! (Ill. Look no farther than Nazi Germany and the Holocaust; the genocide in the Sudan; the cruelty of prejudice; etc.)
· The Cruelty Displayed By The Priests, v. 31-32 Among the people gathered there that day were the very men responsible for the death of Jesus in the first place; the chief priests and scribes. Now, get the image in your mind. Jesus has been nailed to the cross and He is dying. Two other men have also been crucified and are hanging there in open shame and agony.
If there was any group of men in Jerusalem who should have been motivated by love, compassion and godly concern, it should have been these men. But, when they pass by the cross. They do not pray. They do not offer words of comfort and encouragement. They do not offer expressions of sympathy or apology.
When these men pass by the cross, they “mock Jesus. The word has the idea of playing with someone. In other words, they made a cruel game of passing by and ridiculing Jesus as He died. They mocked Him as Saviour, v. 31. They claimed that He was not able to save others.
What they did not realize is that Jesus stayed on the cross, not because He could not come down. Jesus stayed on the cross because He would not come down. He could have easily saved Himself that day. Jesus stayed on the cross so that He might save His people from their sins!
Then, they have the audacity to taunt Jesus, even as He dies. They ridicule He claim to be the King of Israel. They say that if He were to come down from the cross, they would believe. The fact is, nothing Jesus could have done that day would have brought them to a place of faith. They would not have believed on Jesus no matter what! They were given wholly over to their sins!
These men are glaring proof that religion alone does not have the power to make evil men holy. Their religion did not reach beyond their hearts. They knew about God, but they did not know God. They were religious, but they were lost. Lost, religious people are among the most depraved people you will ever meet. Why? They “have a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof. That makes them able to justify the most horrible of offenses in the name of their religion! (Ill. The Inquisition; Islam; etc)
· The Cruelty Displayed By The Other Condemned Men, v. 32 That day at Golgotha, even the other men who were dying unleashed their hatred and venom upon the Lord Jesus Christ. We are told that they reviled Him. This word has the idea of finding fault. It can also mean to return evil for good.
These dying men proved that they were nothing but vile sinners as they ridiculed the dying Saviour on that cross. They were demonstrating their adamic nature even as they died. Of course, Luke tells us that one of these men came to faith. God opened his eyes and he turned to Jesus and prayed to be saved, and they Lord saved his soul that day, Luke 23:39-43.
In that man, we see the way of salvation. It is not by works. It is not by religious deeds. It is not by being good. It by simple faith in Jesus and His finished work on the cross. Salvation occurs when a lost sinner places his or her faith in the Gospel of grace, 1 Cor. 15:3-4.
· I do not have time to dwell on this thought, so I will just mention it today. You were represented at Calvary! There was someone there who was just like you.
Ψ Maybe you are like those soldiers, thinking of no one but yourself. Taking all you can because you think life is all about you.
Ψ Maybe you are like the crowds, lost and undone without God, but turning a blind eye and a deaf ear to the only One Who can save you. You mock salvation and the new birth. You make light of holy things. You actually think salvation is a joke.
Ψ Maybe you are like the chief priests and scribes. You are religious, but you are lost. You know a lot about God, but you do not know God. You are a good, moral person. You are a church member. You are a good neighbor. You don’t drink or curse. Yet, you have never bowed before Jesus and called on Him for salvation. Until you do, you are lost in your sins!
Ψ Maybe you are like those two thieves; dying but oblivious to the Saviour Who stands nearby, ready to save. Look to Him today, and like the repentant thief, call on Jesus and He will save your soul and secure your eternity. He will deliver you from Hell and give you a home in Heaven!
Ψ You were there the day Jesus died. You were either in Him when He died, or you were one of those who mocked Him as He died! (Ill. Rom. 6:6; Gal. 2:20)
Conc: What do the events at Golgotha that day mean to you? Can you look back at Jesus dying on that cross and rejoice in the truth that He was dying for your sins? Or, do you look back at that day and say, “So what? It’s a good story, but I don’t see how it affects me.
The events that occurred that day at A Place Called Golgotha are either your salvation or your damnation, depending on what you do with them. If you will receive Jesus as your Savior, Calvary becomes your salvation. If you refuse to believe in Jesus, choosing your sins, your ways and your will over His, then Calvary becomes your damnation.
The cross of Calvary is the dividing line of humanity! On one side stand the redeemed; those who have trusted Jesus and are saved by grace. That crowd is going to Heaven.
On the other side stand those who refuse to bow to Him. This is the crowd that is headed to Hell. They are lost!
If you are on the side of the redeemed, you should rejoice because God has been gracious to you, calling you out of sin and saving you by His grace.
If you are lost, you should heed His call and come to Jesus today. He will save you, if you will come to Him! It’s not too late to change sides!