Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Where Is Golgotha?

Matthew 27:33 And when they were come unto a place called Golgotha, that is to say, a place of a skull, ...

Mark 15:22 And they bring Him unto the place Golgotha, which is, being interpreted, The place of a skull. ...

John 19:17 And He bearing His cross went forth into a place called [the place] of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha: ...

For early Christians, the site of Christ's Crucifixion was a revered, some may say 'Holy', place. But where was it?

In Jerusalem there are several sites which have been suggested for many years as the location of Jesus' crucifixion ("Golgotha" or "Calvary", both meaning in Hebrew "the place of the skull" or "the place of the head"). Two of them are among best known to us today.

Northwest of the Old City there is a small hill with features which some say resembles the eye sockets of a human skull. Near it is an ancient burial cave known today as the Garden Tomb. This was not the site that early Christians revered.

The mother of the Byzantine emperor Constantine, Queen Helena, in the 4th Century of the Christian Era, built a church at the present site of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre was built on the same site which, before Queen Helena's time, held a temple to the goddess Venus which had been built on top of the remains of a second century BC monument to the King/Priest John Hyrcanus of the Hashmonean dynasty. This was not the site that early Christians revered.

Consider the Scripture, if you will, as a guidepost to the actual history and you may discover the answer. First you need to recall that the Centurion who witnessed the crucifixion of Christ, and proclaimed Him "the Son of God", is the same who also, while at the crucifixion, witnessed the tearing of the Veil of the Temple, as well as the "darkening of the sun". He was a witness of an occurence which he could not have seen had he been at any of the traditional places which we accept as the place of Christ's crucifixion.

What was the Veil of the Temple, that it should be considered an important clue?
"And thou shalt make a vail of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen of cunning work: with cherubims shall it be made... and the vail shall divide unto you between the holy place and the most holy. - Exodus 26:31,33"

The Veil of the Temple would have been 82.5 feet in height, and about 53 feet in width. A huge covering over the doors that gave entrance to the Holy of Holies. Only the High Priest went through the Veil. Only the High Priest had access to GOD, directly, this way.

Now, consider that when a King was angered or grief-stricken beyond his own comprehension, he would tear at his robes until they were torn apart. The tearing of the Temple Veil, in exactly the same way, is supposed to be GOD's "tearing of HIS robes". By tearing the Veil of the Temple, GOD removed the priesthood, symbolically, from the place of access. From that moment on Mankind would have direct access to GOD, through Christ alone.

Now, from any of the favored sites considered the site of the crucifixion, no one can see the Temple Veil, despite its massive size, and it's astonishing color: "You shall make a veil woven of blue, purple, and scarlet thread, and fine woven linen. It shall be woven with an artistic design of cherubim." ~ Exodus 26:31

Only one place allows you to see that Veil, and that place is on the Mount of Olives. This place, which is "near unto the City", as John described it, is a place known as the 'Altar of the Red Heifer', and was the site where the High Priests would slaughter the sacrifice to be used in the Temple. This was a part of the worship ritual, even though it did not take place within the city or the Temple. It was also called 'Outside-the-camp' a proper name, mind you, not a simple description or direction. For over 1,000 years the Jewish High Priests went to this spot, sacrificed for the Temple rituals, and returned to the Temple, passing through the Veil into the Holy of Holies, where they would sprinkle the blood of that sacrifice on the Mercy Seat. The Mercy Seat was the lid or cover of solid gold on the Ark of the Covenant.

Go back now from the Temple to the place where Christ was crucified. It could only have been in one place. Not the site of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, not at the site of the Garden Tomb. That place was on the Mount of Olives, in the place where the Jewish High Priests had sacrificed to GOD - a blood sacrifice - a place know from the Old Testament as the Place of the Head (or Skull). Christ was sacrificed as GOD had required throughout the Temple period, indeed from the time of Adam, with blood as the payment for Sin.

Only an innocent life could be used as payment for Sin. That is what GOD demanded. "For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul." Leviticus 17:11

Remember: To GOD, Blood is life, life is blood. When blood is shed a life is shed. Blood becomes the vehicle of redemption throughout the entire Bible. If you can't understand blood, you can't understand Jesus. Jesus didn't come to heal the sick, He did it en-route. He came and set His face to go to Jerusalem and die. Jesus said, "For this cause I have come,"

John 10:18 "No one takes My life from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again." Jesus came for one reason: to shed His blood. Remember, Jesus came to restore what Adam and Eve had forfeited.

Jesus Christ was crucified on the Mount of Olives, in sight of the Veil of the Temple. Traditions that place his crucifixion in other places are moot. Scripture reveals the Truth. And History needs to be adjusted to fall in line with the Truth, and the facts.

Next time, I think I'll look into crucifixion. Too many people have tried to clean it up, to make it nicer for the folks, or even slide past it quickly, as if it was not an integral part of the entire story. But crucifixion was, and remains, a stark, brutal, and humiliating form of execution. Believers need to face the facts, not wrap themselves in the soft blanket of denial.


WomanHonorThyself said...

hiya Benning...what inspiration..thanks for that shot in the arm!

camojack said...

More important than specific GPS coordinates is the fact that He died for our sins.

Of course, curiosity is a natural thing, but remember what it did to the cat...

benning said...

Camo: True; all the rest is minutia. *meow, Baby!*

Angel: Thanks for stoppin' by! I suppose this is my "Easter build-up" start.

Right Truth said...

Beautiful. This is what separates Christianity from all other religions. Christ GAVE his life freely, it was not taken from him. What other religion can claim such a sacrifice. I am so thankful. I would hate to think my life and future depended on me.

Right Truth

benning said...

Or me!

Brooke said...

When you water down the crucifixtion, I think you loose some understanding of what Christ endured and conquered for us.

Great post!

WomanHonorThyself said...

Just stopped in to say howdy!..:)

Anonymous said...

Another wonderful post, benning! M*A says that there are bloggers who "stretch her brain" and make her feel smarter...you are one of those, my friend! Thanks!

Always On Watch said...

I love the resurrection header. In fact, I saved it to my pictures.

You're spot on about the ripping of the Veil of the Temple. Thanks to His propitiation for us, we can go directly to our Creator.

Excellent post! I'll be recommending this one to all my classes!