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This is an Easter message, but it is a message that does not have an expiry time. Its message is eternal.

In this Easter message I want to look at the events from a different viewpoint or break away from the norm.

We readily accept things traditionally and in the events of Easter, it is a good thing to do. Sometimes however we do not see some of those apparently small or insignificant matters that are part of a carefully and intricately woven pattern.

We rightly focus on the Last Supper that was actually a Passover meal.

We know of the betrayal, the events in the Garden of Gethsemane, the arrest and trial, the cruel scourging, the Lord’s lonely walk down the Via Delorosa, the actual crucifixion and subsequent death and that wonderful resurrection morning, but...

 

I want to draw our attention to something often overlooked and  that is the place itself ~  the place of the skull.

...Then delivered he him therefore unto them to be crucified. And they took Jesus, and led him away.  And he bearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha: Where they crucified him, and two others with him, on either side one, and Jesus in the midst. John 19:16-18

Let us begin on the Day of Pentecost, when Peter stood up and spoke to the folk who had gathered for the feast day.
The Holy Spirit had arrived, just as Jesus said He would and when the crowds gathered to see what was happening, Peter preached an amazing message that led to the conversion of 3,000 souls.

This crowd was comprised of ordinary people, pilgrims who had come to Jerusalem as per the commandments of God in The Law for that occasion and the religious leaders.

I must explain a few things before continuing as it is all important. It was Shavuot... the Feast of Weeks when the counting of the Omer took place. It was all linked to Passover.

Ḥag HaShavuot or Shavuot is known as the Feast of weeks is one of the three pilgrimage festivals that God commanded be observed. It celebrates the revelation of the five books of the Torah (the first 5 books in the Old Testament) seven weeks (49 days) after the Exodus. Jews refer to this as the counting of the Omer (See the picture of a typical calendar on the following page). It sounds all very complicated to most non-Jews, but it all really makes a lot of sense. It also marked the beginning of the wheat harvest.

It all reveals the amazing timing and intricate planning of God.

Peter said in part-

...everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved.’
“People of Israel, listen!
God publicly endorsed Jesus the Nazarene by doing powerful miracles, wonders, and signs through him, as you well know.
But
God knew what would happen, and his prearranged plan was carried out when Jesus was betrayed. With the help of lawless Gentiles, you nailed him to a cross and killed him.
But God released him from the horrors of death and raised him back to life, for death could not keep him in its grip.
King David said this about him: ‘I see that the LORD is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me.
No wonder my heart is glad, and my tongue shouts his praises! My body rests in hope.
For you will not leave my soul among the dead or allow your Holy One to rot in the grave.
You have shown me the way of life, and you will fill me with the joy of your presence.’
“Dear brothers, think about this!
You can be sure that the patriarch David wasn’t referring to himself, for he died and was buried, and his tomb is still here among us. But he was a prophet, and he knew God had promised with an oath that one of David’s own descendants would sit on his throne. David was looking into the future and speaking of the Messiah’s resurrection. He was saying that God would not leave him among the dead or allow his body to rot in the grave.  “God raised Jesus from the dead, and we are all witnesses of this.
Now he is exalted to the place of highest honor in heaven, at God’s right hand. And the Father, as he had promised, gave him the Holy Spirit to pour out upon us, just as you see and hear today. Acts 2:21-33 Please note my emphasis

There are many scriptures that reveal that Jesus was the Lamb of God who was slain before the foundation of the world, starting with that wonderful prophecy in Genesis 3:14-15 and it continued throughout the entire bible like a scarlet thread woven into the tapestry of time into the book of revelation. We see this in places like Galatians 4:4 and Revelation 13:8.

No man, or religious organization can orchestrate such a thing. It is all about the love and grace of God in that whilst we were destined for hell in a Christ-less eternity, God planned ahead of time for you and me to be saved. Romans 5, especially verse 8 attest to this. Again, it reveals that salvation is a free gift that no one can earn in any way, or by any other means other than to believe and receive. See Ephesians 2.

I recommend that you read those chapters in Romans 5 and Ephesians 2 through in their entirety.

What I have done thus far is to hopefully show that Calvary was carefully planned ahead of time by God.

Nothing happened by accident. Nothing took God by surprise to make Him resort to “plan b”.

His plan therefore had to include the very place where Jesus died and we shall deal with this more later.

We usually think of the cross through religious eyes and tradition. If you look at it closely, we have been led to believe that the cross Jesus carried was extremely large, but how can one man drag such a weight of wood comprising the vertical stand as well as the cross beam that distance, even if he had not undergone such scourging? Every time I watch a movie of some kind depicting Jesus carrying such a thing, the cross is taller than a man and wider than a man’s outstretched arms.

A railroad tie or sleeper is the only thing I can compare to that and such things can easily weigh from 100 to 300 pounds.  The middle range of 200 pounds is approximately 90kg. That is heavier than I am and I cannot lift such a weight!

I therefore cannot imagine Jesus struggling with such a cross the way religious tradition has told us. It might have been different to how we have been tradtiionally taught. Anyhow, that’s just my opinion, but what I concentrate on are the things that are “hidden in plain sight” in the scriptures. They are hidden for us, not from us.

I have lost count of how often I have read the Easter story when Pilate washed his hands and said that Jesus was to be crucified; how the Lord carried His cross and of the actual crucifixion itself. But I had glossed over a very important part that I had seen, never looking closely into the meaning of the location—the place of the skull.

The account is seen in Matthew 27:33, Mark 15:22 and John’s version as above. If 3 of the 4 gospels talk about this, it must be important. Therefore in this short story, we shall see why.

The Greek word is Golgotha. It has a Hebrew origin where the word to look at is gulgōlet. It means something round—like a skull which is also the root of the word Galilee. Wow! Jesus spent a lot of time in Galilee. That cannot be a coincidence.

The early meaning describes a round white rock that resembles a  human head. You might see the shape in the pictures I have shared that are supposedly the place where Jesus was crucified.
This was the hill of crucifixion that was used by the Romans and one must ask why they chose such a place. Was it a matter of convenience? Did they deliberately pick it or were they “influenced” by God to use that place to fit in with His plan that had been formulated before the Roman empire was ever created? Unwittingly perhaps, they, Judas and the devil were all doing precisely what God wanted to bring us salvation. If we look at Peter’s words again, they were spoken during a Jewish festival. Jesus was crucified during a Jewish Festival.

And the first day of unleavened bread, when they killed the passover, his disciples said unto him, Where wilt thou that we go and prepare that thou mayest eat the passover?
And he sendeth forth two of his disciples, and saith unto them,
Go ye into the city, and there shall meet you a man bearing a pitcher of water: follow him.  And wheresoever he shall go in, say ye to the goodman of the house, The Master saith, Where is the guestchamber, where I shall eat the passover with my disciples?  And he will shew you a large upper room furnished and prepared: there make ready for us.
And his disciples went forth, and came into the city, and found as he had said unto them: and they made ready the passover.  And in the evening he cometh with the twelve. Mark 14:12-17

Jewish preparations were complex and this festival was for a seven day period of time, the final day being the actual Passover meal.

By God’s command they had to select a lamb 4 days beforehand, set it aside and check it for defects before slaughter. It was not the same as selecting a leg of lamb from the butcher or refrigerator and place it in the oven to roast as we do. This particular lamb had been chosen by the owner of that house at least four days before and waiting for Jesus’ two disciples to find the house and set the table. According to what Peter said, this was also planned ahead of time.

Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: Acts 2:23

I would like you to look at a few key words in this verse, starting with determinate.

In the Greek it is horizō meaning that at some previous time, God had appointed, declared, determined and ordained it to happen at His set time.
The word counsel is boulē and it talks about purpose and intent. Foreknowledge is prognōsis.
This means that God both knew in advance, planned for it to happen just as He wanted it and made sure it happened that way.

There is more to it than that of course, but I have hopefully painted the picture for you that our salvation and relationship with God had been meticulously planned before the dawn of time. Calvary was when God “made it happen”.

When Jesus was taken up that rugged hill and nailed to the cross, it was as I have touched on already—the place of the skull. This is just a rock formation—a smooth, rounded rock that “just happens” to look like a human skull. Stop for a moment to ask when that rock formation was formed. How old is it? When God picked up a lump of clay and squeezed it in his hand to form a ball and call it the planet earth—He made that rock!

But wait...there’s more!

And the LORD spake unto Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, in the tabernacle of the congregation, on the first day of the second month, in the second year after they were come out of the land of Egypt, saying,  Take ye the sum of all the congregation of the children of Israel, after their families, by the house of their fathers, with the number of their names, every male by their polls; Numbers 1:1-2
 

You might wonder what that has to do with Easter. 

The Hebrew word for polls is golgoleth. It means “by their skulls”.

This was the best and most basic way to count people—head by head.

This indicates that Jesus’ redemptive death on the cross at the place of the skull provided salvation for every individual human who will ever live. It was as if God did a head count when He made the place of the skull, but still gave us freedom to make the choice.

He knew how many people would accept this free gift that God had offered us and when we were added to this count, our names were added to the Lamb’s Book of Life...but then God knew we would.

What amazing love.

We do not need to remember these events only at Easter time... we can reflect on them every day of the year.

If you have not already done so, why not make it personal...right now?

Invite the Lord into your life. Believe that all this was just for you and accept it like a free gift, which it is...the gift of eternal life. Ask Him for it...

Blessings,

Robert and Marjorie


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