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At Golgotha

Finally Pilate handed Him over to them to be crucified. So the soldiers took charge of Jesus. Carrying His own cross, He went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha). There they crucified Him, and with Him two others—one on each side and Jesus in the middle. (John 19:16-18 NIV)

Golgotha. The place of the Skull. There they crucified Him.

Golgotha was an outcropping of rock outside Jerusalem with hollows on the face that resembled a skull. It was the place where the Romans executed criminals. It was a place of cruel death. It was a very public place where executions sometimes lasted for days before the victim died of asphyxiation. That was planned as a deterrent, displaying Rome's absolute power over those who were conquered.

Golgotha was also the place where Jesus poured out His passion-His deep, relentless lovefor sinners by paying the full and final sacrifice for the sins of the world. Two things are both true. At Golgotha, they took His life. And at Golgotha, He laid down His life, willingly, for the fallen, broken world He loves.

At Golgotha, the love of God and the holiness of God come together in full force to defeat sin. Most of the time, we do not really think of ourselves as sinners. We're good people. We're just trying to make our way through life and do the best we can. We don't really take notice of the devastating effects of sin unless we do something really harsh and hurt someone badly or someone does something really horrible and wounds us deeply. But God has known the destructive effect of sin since the beginning. Sin separates us from God.

Surely the arm of the LORD is not too short to save, nor His ear too dull to hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden His face from you,

so that He will not hear. (Isaiah 59:1-2 NIV)

Following the first sin, Adam and Eve hid from God, and then were driven from the garden and from God's Presence. Sin broke their fellowship with the One who loved them most. And sin has been doing the same thing ever since. Our iniquities separate us from God and hide His face from us. Separated from Him, we are on a crash course with death and hell. Is it really that bad? Yes. Scripture says it is exactly that bad.

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23 NIV)

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23 NIV)

You and I were born with a fallen sin nature we inherited from our ancestors, all the way back to Adam and Eve. And to make matters worse, we choose to sin, to disobey God and to break His heart and wound other people. We are sinners. We fall short of the glory of God. We miss the mark of holiness He designed us for as bearers of His image.

And the wages? Well, the wages of sin is death. I deserved to die on that cross outside Jerusalem to pay for my sins. God, whose nature is both holiness and love, cannot simply ignore sin. Sin must be atoned for. A life must be given up to pay the horrible wages of sin, which is death. And that's exactly what Jesus did at Golgotha. For the wages of sin is death, BUT the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. When He had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, He bowed His head and gave up His spirit. (John 19:28-30 NIV)

At the end, Jesus knew redemption had been accomplished. It had now been finished. Even in this moment He fulfilled one final prophecy: They put gall in my food and gave me vinegar for my thirst. (Psalm 69:21 NIV) So He asks for a drink, and they give Him vinegar. Then He proclaims, "It is finished," and gives up His Spirit. At Golgotha, Jesus finished the atonement for sin that makes it possible for all who choose to trust Him and follow Him to have forgiveness and eternal life. Sin has been vanquished. Death's grip will soon be broken when Jesus rises from the dead. The passion of His love has conquered sin and death so we can be redeemed.

How do we receive the gift of redemption Jesus won at Golgotha? By faith.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9 NIV)

Redemption became reality in my life when I was 15 years old and asked Jesus to come into my heart, forgive my sins and make my life all He wanted it to be. Redemption comes into any human life when we trust Jesus and entrust our lives to Him, making Him our Savior and our Lord.

Golgotha. The place of the Skull. There they crucified Him. "It is finished."


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