040411PM WOTB-17 The Exact Place
The Exact Place
Remember that long, dark pathway to the Cross? It started in the night watches in Gethsemane. Then through the dark came the flash of the light of the torches, towards the groanings and bloody sweat of Christ’s prayers.
That cold and wicked kiss of the traitor and the hasty arrest.
Still in the darkness of night, the illegal and contrived arraignment before the high priests, followed by the hours of waiting, and of tension.
Then the appearances of Jesus in the morning before the high priests and the council.
Following this Jesus is ignominiously dragged to the palace of the Roman governor where that strange interview transpired between Jesus and Pilate, withdrawn from the rabble into some quiet apartment.
Across the old city Christ journeys from the house of Pilate to the palace of Herod. At last, the first and final meeting with Herod, the corrupt, the depraved, Herod who had so often sought an interview with Him, and had never obtained it until that last hour, Herod who never heard the voice of Jesus, for to his curiosity Christ vouchsafed no single word.
Then began Christ’s rough handling at the hatred of Herod’s brutal soldiery until the journey back to Pilate.
The awful scenes therough which Pilate strove to save Him, while priests and people clamoured for His blood.
The patway to the Cross.
Hours into which eternities were compressed! Through all in silence He endured the Cross, despising the shame; in silence, with no word of complaint and no word expressive of pain, Isaiah 53:7 He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. (NIV)
Remember Christ had been aquitted by the highest court of appeal but He is still subjected to the cruelest of punishment.
- Seized by calloused Roman soldiers
- rudely stipped
- harshly pushed onto a rough and filthy wooden beam
- cruelly pierced by Roman spikes
- raised aloft to be seen by all on an instrument of horror and torture
First, CALVARY WAS AT THE EXACT SPOT:
Outside of the Damascus Gate today, behind the Arab bus station is a cliff. This cliff is cut into the side of the Mount Moriah ridge. It was formed by the quarrying of rock used for building Jerusalem over the hundreds of years from David’s time to Christ’s time. This rock faced cliff was called Golgotha or the place of the skull in the Gospels. It was a rock quarry and a place of execution designed by the Romans. It was here alongside of the main road heading to Damascus – that the execution by crucifixion took place. The many travelers in and out of the commercial area of Jerusalem had to pass by this spot on their way in this main gate for the city. To this day the Damascus Gate is still the main entrance to Jerusalem’s Old City. It is the busiest and largest gate of the six gates used to enter the Old City.
In ancient times the rock ridge was unbroken by this quarry. So when Abraham visited Melchisadek in Genesis 14 the ridge of Moriah would have extended all the way from the small city to the highest point to the north – called Mount Moriah. It was here in Genesis 22 that Abraham returned with his only son – Isaac. It was here that he left behind the servants and piled the wood on the back of his son and climbed that ridge to the very top. It was here on Mount Moriah that Abraham offered his only son Isaac – and God intervened. Then God promised that He would provide a lamb. He did so at that moment, but was also promising to Abraham that there on that exact spot the Lamb of God would be offered to bear the sin of the world.
So Golgotha was Moriah. Jesus was crucified on the exact spot that God had promised. In Genesis 22 as we saw Isaac carrying the wood on his back – so Jesus carried His own Cross. As Abraham offered his only son, so God the Father offered His only Son. Even the location was the same, the elevation was the highest, and the picture is amazingly clear this side of Calvary.
CALVARY WAS THE EXACT EVENT:
- Jesus was “lifted up” as Moses foresaw 1,500 years earlier in Numbers 21.8 (cf. John 3.14) with the brazen serpent.
- David saw 1,000 years before Calvary that Christ would be “pierced” in His hands and feet, His garments were “divided” and His clothing was won by “casting lots” as Psalm 22.2,4,16-18 records.
Psalm 22 parallels the Seven Last Words of Jesus. Either explicitly or implied, each can be traced through the 31 verses of this Psalm. This Psalm covers the Cross from the depths of anguish at the first verse, to the Triumph of the last verse – it shows Christ’s going through and winning, enduring the Cross for our sins.
- “My God, My God” It has been the belief of many scholars that actually the Lord Jesus, while on the cross, quoted the entire twenty-second psalm. I concur in this, because the seven last sayings that are given in the Gospels either appear in this psalm or the psychological background for them is here.
- Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them: for they know not what they do …” (Luke 23:34). If He had not said that, this crowd would have committed the unpardonable sin. But they did not—He asked forgiveness for their sin. We know that the centurion in charge of the execution was saved; and a whole company of Pharisees, including Saul of Tarsus, who probably were in this crowd, were saved.
- “Woman behold thy son” (22.9-10)As Jesus looks at her, do you want to know what went on in His heart? He went back to Bethlehem at the time He was born, and He says to the Father:
- “I Thirst” (22.15-18) He was crucified naked. It is difficult for us in this age of nudity and pornography to comprehend the great humiliation He suffered by hanging nude on the cross. They had taken His garments and gambled for ownership. My friend, He went through it all, crucified naked, that you might be clothed with the righteousness of Christ, and so be able to stand before God throughout the endless ages of eternity.
- “Into Thy Hands” (22.19-22) I think that He said this entire psalm on the cross. He did not die defeated; for when He reached the very end He said, “This is the gospel that will be witnessed to. I will declare thy name unto my brethren.” And I see Peter in the midst of the Sanhedrin, composed of both Pharisees and Sadducees, saying to them, “… there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). “I will declare thy name unto my brethren.”
- “Today thou shalt be with me” (22.26) The redeemed shall be there to praise, and the thief He was taking with Him that very day. Although he was a man unfit to even live down here, according to Rome’s standard, the Lord Jesus makes him fit for heaven by His death on the cross.
- “It is Finished” They shall declare His righteousness—not your righteousness, for God says it is filthy rags in His sight. How will they declare His righteousness? “That he hath done this.” Some would translate it, “It is finished,” the last word He spoke on the cross. And when He said it, it was but one word—Tetelestai! Finished! Your redemption is a completed package, and He presents it to you wrapped up with everything in it. He doesn’t want you to bring your do-it-yourself kit along. He does not need that. When He died on the cross, He provided a righteousness that would satisfy a holy God. All He asks of you is that you receive this package, this gift of God, which is eternal life in Christ Jesus. If you reject it, God must treat you as He treated His Son when He cried, “… My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34). I am not here to argue about the temperature of hell: it will be hell for any man to be forsaken of God. Jesus Christ went through it that you might never have to utter that cry. Psalm 22 reveals the heart of our Savior as He was made a sin offering in our behalf. He completed the transaction in triumph. He offers to us a finished redemption. We never shall be worthy of it; we cannot earn it: we cannot buy it—we must receive it as a gift. Over nineteen hundred years ago the Lord Jesus Christ did all that was needed to save us. It is done. Tetelestai. Finished!
- He was “bruised” as Isaiah saw 700 years before in chapter 53.5-6 “for our iniquities”.
- In the 5th Century BC Daniel 9.24 we are told that Messiah would “be cut off” as a substitute, and not for Himself.
CALVARY WAS AT THE EXACT MOMENT:
Jesus was crucified during Passover week. There were two calendars followed by the Jews in Christ’s time. The northern (Galilean) calendar went from sunrise to sunrise. The southern (Judean) calendar went from sundown to sundown. This allowed for everyone to celebrate all the intricacies of the Passover when the city was overflowing with pilgrims. On that basis the seeming contradictions in the gospel accounts are easily explained. Being Galileans, Jesus and the disciples considered Passover day to have started at sunrise on Thursday and to end at sunrise on Friday. The Jewish leaders who arrested and tried Jesus, being mostly priests and Sadducees, considered Passover day to begin at sunset on Thursday and end at sunset on Friday. By that variation, predetermined by God’s sovereign provision, Jesus could thereby legitimately celebrate the last Passover meal with His disciples and yet still be sacrificed on Passover day.
Jesus was from Galilee so He celebrated the Passover meal like all the Galileans, the night before the Jerusalem based scribes, priests and Sanhedrin. So the first half of the 256,000 lambs that were probably slain that year were slain with His. The blood was poured down a pipe that drained into the Kidron Valley and was washed by the Brook Kidron down into the Dead Sea. It was probably still stained red by all that blood when Jesus crossed the brook and went to the Garden of Gethsemane.
After Christ’s late night arrest, Peter’s denials, and a night in the prison of Caiaphas as the early morning light began to dawn, hundreds and then thousands began to line up with their lambs.
Allow you minds to retrace the events of Passover the day Christ was crucified. Levites have just opened the doors of the Temple so that the crowds can enter to offer their sacrificial lambs.
At 9 AM – this was the specified time and at that exact moment three events took place.
- While Israel’s high priest was tying the Passover lamb for the Nation to the Temple’s altar awaiting its sacrifice, and
- Each head of household takes a knife and prepares to slaughter the lamb that must be sacrificed for his family –
- AT THAT VERY MOMENT, outside the city walls of Jerusalem, Jesus was being nailed to a cross to hang, and bleed. For six hours both the lamb at the altar and Jesus the Lamb of God awaited death.
At 12 Noon as the thousands of individual lambs continue to be brought into the Temple, the sky darkens, and the crowds inside the Temple grow silent and pensive. Only the lights of the temple torches illumined the darkened courtyard. The flickering lights shined off the pavement wet with the blood of thousands of lambs. This was the
- In the dark, while the stones of the Temple courtyard run red with the blood thousands of lambs and goats, the Lamb of God spills His life’s blood outside the city.
- While the father in each household slaughters a lamb for the sake of his family, God the Father slaughters His holy Lamb for the sake of all who would accept Christ’s gift of forgiveness and eternal life.
At 3 PM or exactly the ninth hour, the high priest ascended the altar in the temple and sacrificed the lamb for the Nation. Unstopped by the unusual darkness that had covered the land for three hours, he carefully places his hands on the head of the lamb, and slides a razor sharp knife across its innocent throat spilling its life blood.
- At that moment, barely able to lift His blood-spattered face toward heaven, Christ’s words thundered out over the city of Jerusalem in triumph, “It is finished!” (John 19:30).
- At that moment on Calvary’s stark mountain, God the Father, the final High Priest of all creation, placed His holy hand on the head of His only begotten Son, allowing the sin of the world to descend upon Jesus. As Paul tells us
What wondrous love!
What amazing grace! Never forget it.
Passover reminds us that the precious blood of the Worthy Lamb of God — purchased our redemption.
Sing with me a song of worship to Christ our Passover Lamb:
Worthy is the Lamb that was slain
 These ideas and quotes are from McGee, J. Vernon, Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers) 2000, c1981.
 John F. MacArthur, Jr., The MacArthur Study Bible, (Dallas: Word Publishing) 1997.
 John Hagee, His Glory Revealed. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1999, pp. 9-11.