8 Minute Read + pictures & videos

TODAY’S BIBLE READING:

Exodus 35:10–36:38
Matthew 27:32-66
Psalm 34:1-10
Proverbs 9:7-8

TODAY’S BIBLE VERSE(S):

Matthew 27:33 (CSB): “When they came to a place called Golgotha (which means Place of the Skull),”

REFLECTIONS ON TODAY’S BIBLE VERSE(S):

The Bible tells us clearly that Jesus was crucified at a place called Golgotha (which means Place of the Skull). We also gather that this was a place outside the city walls of Jerusalem in the first century.

Other than that, we don’t know much about the location where Jesus was crucified.

The problem is further compounded when we realize that in the past 2,000 years, the control of Jerusalem has been passed from one group to another. Jews, Romans, Muslims, Britons, and other groups have had their hand in the ownership of this prime piece of real estate. The problem rests in the fact that these conquering groups didn’t ask the previous group where all of the significant sites were.

The Muslims didn’t ask the Romans: “Hey, guys, where was the Jerusalem temple that you tore down? And, by the way, where was Jesus crucified, you one you put on a cross?”

The Britons didn’t ask the Muslims: “You all have had control of Jerusalem for quite some time. Surely you have some idea where Jesus’ body was placed after He was crucified?”

These conversations never took place. So, as the first century people who knew the answers to these questions died, and since this information was never passed down through the generations, and since conquering groups never asked the previous group where these sites where, the exact location of many of the significant Jerusalem sites were lost. It was simply left up to the ability of later generations to try and deduce, to the best of their ability, where the events in the Bible took place in and around Jerusalem. (This is why I wrote a previous post outlining some of the reasons that I believe the Jerusalem Temple site has been misidentified.)

So, let’s get back to Golgotha, the Place of the Skull, where Jesus was crucified. While we don’t know exactly where Golgotha was, we have a pretty good clue.

“How?” you might ask.

Well, just look at the following picture.

The following picture was on a plaque in Jerusalem and I snapped a picture of it. The original picture was taken in the early 1900’s. It’s a hill in present day Jerusalem, but it would have been outside the walls of Jerusalem in the first century. Can you see what looks like a skull in the face of the rock?

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Golgotha?

 

Our tour guide also showed us another picture that was taken of this same hill. I took a picture of her picture. Here it is.

 

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Golgotha?

Sure looks like a skull, doesn’t it? You can certainly see why many Christians associate this site with Golgotha, “The Place of the Skull.”

As Christians, it is powerful to think that our Savior, who defeat death (see the following verses), did so at a location where a ‘skull’ observed his demise.

2 Timothy 1:10 (CSB): “This has now been made evident through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who has abolished death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.”

Hebrews 2:14-15 (CSB): “Now since the children have flesh and blood in common, Jesus also shared in these, so that through his death he might destroy the one holding the power of death—that is, the devil—and free those who were held in slavery all their lives by the fear of death.”

Revelation 1:17-18 (CSB): “When I saw him, I fell at his feet like a dead man. He laid his right hand on me and said, ‘Don’t be afraid. I am the First and the Last, and the Living One. I was dead, but look—I am alive forever and ever, and I hold the keys of death and Hades.'”

There are so many “rabbits” that I could chase here at the cross. There are so many wonderful truths that I would love to ‘unpack’ … but I will have to save some of them for future posts.

For now, let me simply share with you some more pictures and a couple of videos that I took at the site that is traditionally held to be Golgotha when Kim and I visited Israel last year.

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If you visit Israel, this is the sign you will see as you make your way toward was is traditionally held to be Golgotha and the Garden Tomb where Jesus’ body was placed.
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Remember those pictures you saw moments ago that looked like a skull? Here is what this site looks like now.

Now, let me share a couple of videos that I took at this site.

“Golgotha,” if this site has been properly identified, has not be preserved very well.

A bus depot is at its base and the second video below shows that trash and filth has been strewn at the base of this hill. But, when we remember that our Savior bore our sin and took our death sentence in this place as God the Father temporarily turned His back on His own Son, we cannot help but realize that the toxic fumes of the bus exhaust and the filthy trash are powerful pictures of our sin that was dealt with in this place.

But, as long as we are at the cross, I would be remiss not to mention a picture I took about 100 yards away … at the Garden Tomb. This is where many people think that Jesus’ body was buried.

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The Garden Tomb that many suspect is the site where Jesus was buried and rose again.

Kim and I went into this tomb. I took some video, but then deleted it. Whether or not this was the precise location where Jesus was buried and then rose again, I felt it too sacred to post that video.

I’ll never forget exiting that tomb, though. As I was stepping out, a man was prepared to make his way in. He looked at me and asked: “What’s in there?”

I told him that it was empty.

We both smiled.

Matthew 28:5-6 (CSB): “The angel told the women, ‘Don’t be afraid, because I know you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here. For he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.'”

(If you want to read an article and view a short video (produced by CBN) of the locations I have just shown you, click here.)