They came to a place called Golgotha

(which means The Place of the Skull)

Matthew 27:33

Golgotha was outside the city through the Sheep Gate. The Sheep Gate is where the sacrificial lambs for the temple would be brought into the city. The symbolism for Jesus, The Sacrificial Lamb, to exit through this gate is important.

The Crucifixion

And they crucified him.

Mark 15:24a

The beam was placed on the ground and the condemned person would be held in place. Four to five inch spikes would be driven into each palm or in the wrist joint. Sometimes the hands would not be pierced. The arms would be tied to the crossbeam, one on each side. Tradition and artists have shown the feet of Jesus on the front of the cross. The nails would be long enough for one foot to be on top of the other and driven through both feet. The knees would have to be bent for this to be done.

A skeleton has been found of a first century crucified man. His hands were not pierced and nails pierced the ankles with the feet placed on the side of the upright post. A Bible History Daily article, “Roman Crucifixion Methods Reveal the History of Crucifixions”, also presents evidence that spikes went through the side of the foot just under the ankle bone and into the side of the upright. A small wooden plaque was placed on the outside of the ankle so the foot could not be pulled off. In order for a person to take a breath they had to push up with their legs, causing pain. Death came slowly, sometimes taking days because no vital organs were damaged. The person would die from being so exhausted he could not push up to get a breath.

The Ridicule

When the soldiers crucified Jesus they took his clothes, dividing them into four shares, one for each of them, with the under garment remaining. This garment was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom. “Let’s not tear it” they said to one another. “Let’s decide by lot who will get it.” This happened that the scripture might be fulfilled which said, “They divided my garments among them and cast lots for my clothes.”

John 19:23-24

Casting lots was done to determine guilt, make decisions or settle disputes. Throwing dice or drawing a marked straw were two methods of casting lots. It is believed the soldiers threw dice which were commonly made of clay or carved from bone or stone.

Above his head they placed the written charge against him:

This is Jesus, the king of the Jews.

Matthew 27:37

The Jewish religious leaders wanted it to read “He claimed to be” but Pilate would not change what he had ordered. This was written in Greek, Hebrew and Latin so all viewing the crucifixion would know the charge against Jesus.

In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked him among themselves. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! Let this Christ, this King of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe.”

Mark 15:31-32

The Shadow of Sin

From the 6th hour until the 9th hour darkness came over all the land. About the 9th hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” which means “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”

Matthew 27:45-46

Jesus is using an interpretive technique called ramez, where he is quoting the first part of a popular chapter of the Old Testament, with the expectation that the listeners would know the remainder of the chapter. He is quoting Psalm 22:1.

The End - Part One

Later, knowing that all was now completed, and so that the 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

In Matthew and Mark the work Kalamos is a general term for “reed” or “thin stick”. Some scholars think the hyssop stick mentioned in Luke (Origanum Syriacum) would have been too short to reach the mouth of Jesus during the crucifixion. Some scholars have proposed that a stalk of ezof was used, which may include herbs like marjoram, oregano and thyme. The Arabs call this plant ezaf (Capparis Spinosa) which is a capor plant. It has cleansing properties and is native to the Mediterranean Basin.




The Veil

Luke 23:45-46 records that the veil was torn in two and then Jesus cried:

“Father, into your hand I commit my spirit”

When he said this, he breathed his last.

The word “veil” in Hebrew means a screen, divide or separator that hides, symbolizing a barrier between God and man. It was a thick curtain that separated the Holy of Holies from the Holy Place. It was made of fine linen and blue, purple and scarlet yarn.  There were cherubim (angels) embroidered onto it.  

The veil is described as about the width of a man’s handbreadth thick, or about 4 inches thick. It was woven of 72 cords with each cord consisting of 24 strands. The veil was 40 cubits (60’) long and 20 cubits (30’) wide. Eighty-two young women made 2 veils each year. When it became soiled it took three hundred priests to immerse and clean it. The veil was a picture of the barrier between God and man. Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross changed that. The presence of God was now accessible to anyone, not just the High Priest on the Day of Atonement.

Affirmation of Death

It was Preparation Day (that is the day before the Sabbath). The Jews did not want the bodies left on the cross during the Sabbath so they asked Pilate to order the legs to be broken. This would prevent the crucified from raising up to take a breath, thus quickening their death. According to Deuteronomy 21:22-23, the body of a Jewish person was to be buried the same day as their death, especially if hung on a tree. Jesus was already dead when the soldiers came to him so they did not break his legs as was done to the criminals on either side of him.

These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled:

“Not one of his bones will be broken,”

John 19:36a

The Spear

Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water.

John 19:34

This flow could indicate that Jesus died of a ruptured heart or that the crassamentum (the heavy red corpuscles) and the serum (the yellowish white aqueous part) of the blood had already begun to separate. Another theory is that the stomach or lungs contained water and one of these organs were pierced.

The Roman spear was about seven feet long. It was balanced so that it could be thrown a good distance without the metal shaft weighting the front. The metal shaft was made to have a weak spot where it met the wood. The spear would bend or break at this point when pulled out of wherever it landed, so it could not be thrown back at the Romans. The metal shaft was also longer than a man’s arm length so that when the spear went through a shield it would pierce the enemy’s torso.