“And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left.” Luke 23:33
When approaching this subject and talking about “Appreciating Calvary,” I am speaking of the finished work of the cross that Christ Himself accomplished in that place.
One of my favorite hymns to sing, written by William Reed Newell, says, “Mercy there was great and grace was free, Pardon there was multiplied to me, There my burdened soul found liberty – At Calvary!”
Calvary is that place we sing of. Calvary is the place of the skull. That same Calvary in our beloved hymn is the place which was also known as Golgotha Hill.
It was the place where the condemned were taken. A place where life was taken. It was a place of pain, and where life would come to an end. No one who mounted a cross in that place expected to leave that cross, except by way of death.
And Calvary, a place just outside of the walls of Jerusalem became a place synonymous with that suffering. It became a place known for its executions. In that, it also became the place for the most well–known execution of all time, that our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Why is this so important? Because He was, and is, so important.
History doesn’t record the name of others who died on that hill, for many have lost their lives in that place. Calvary was not new to having blood flow down its hills. Calvary was not new to having bodies bolstered high on its hill, exposing the shame of the condemned to everyone who walked by.
Calvary was not new to what the torture felt like that was carried out on its hills, but it wasn’t until Jesus became the one who walked up Calvary, His body already dealing with the pain of the scourging and whips; it wasn’t until Jesus, being fully submitted to the Father’s will, laid down His own life on that old rugged beam, that Calvary started to mean more than what it was used for.
I don’t know who died on that hill before Jesus. And although some try to put names to the two thieves hanging next to Him, the Bible doesn’t mention them by their names (they are only noted by their actions).
But there is only one Man’s actions that made Calvary a significant place in history, and that’s Jesus. It is only one name that climbed that hill that was worth remembering, and that’s Jesus. It’s what Jesus did at Calvary that makes us appreciate it. It is what Jesus performed on the cross on that hill that makes us want to pay attention to it and study it. We want to know about Calvary because that’s where Jesus died for my sins and yours.
Before Jesus laid on that cross, He said, “Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit” (John 12:24).
Before Jesus carried that beam up that hill, He said, “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. This he said, signifying what death he should die” (John 12:32-33).
Before one nail ever entered His flesh, He once told His disciples, “Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father” (John 10:17-18).
Before He was sentenced to death, Jesus confidently told Pilate, “Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above. . .” (John 19:11). You are not taking My life from Me! I know what I came to Calvary to do! I came to Calvary, at this appointed time, in this appointed place, to do the will of My Father! Before the foundation of the world, I was appointed here to offer mankind so much more, and Calvary was the place to make it all happen.
Calvary is the place of fulfillment. Calvary is the place where the Passover Lamb was sacrificed. Calvary was the place where things would be different now. Calvary was the place where all things would be made new. All because of what Jesus did on Calvary!
There, He hung and bled. There, He cried out and died. Because of what happened there, the veil was torn, the dead were raised, and souls would be released from eternal bondage, and so much more!
How much more, you may ask? Let me show you what Jesus, Himself said from that place on Calvary.
On Calvary, Jesus showed us what true forgiveness looks like, saying, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Instead of ranting and raving; instead of cursing and trying to get even; instead of hating those who put Him on the cross, Jesus prays to the Father for their forgiveness.
The pain He was feeling would not stop until He did. Even when His body is finally put in the grave, the unbelievers would still be mocking Him, but He didn’t let that deter Him, His heart was set on forgiveness!
On Calvary, Jesus also gave the offer of something better. The offer of heaven was given to the repentant thief. Jesus said from the cross, “Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43). While He was losing His life, Jesus showed just how important souls are to Him. Heaven is waiting for those who believe! Heaven is yours if you are repentant! What this world throws at you does not have the final say! The promise is there! The promise is for us. There is a place referred to as Paradise and Jesus offered it to this previous sinner.
Your sins do not have to keep you where you are! Jesus showed us on Calvary, that there is something better waiting for us ahead! “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9). Calvary showed us, that something better is waiting on the horizon!
On Calvary, Jesus showed us that relationships matter. On Calvary, Jesus shows how much He cares for and takes care of those He loves. Looking down from the cross we are told, “When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, ‘Woman, behold your son!’ Then He said to the disciple, ‘Behold your mother!’ And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home,” (John 19:26-27, NKJV).
He had to go. He had to die. But that didn’t make it any easier for His mother to comprehend. It was already prophesied to her, “(Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed” (Luke 2:35). It didn’t soothe the heartbreak at all. A mother’s love does not work like that. It is a special connection of the heart that starts at the time of conception and never leaves her. Jesus knew she needed special care. This woman who had raised Him and loved Him through it all needed to be looked after in a special way.
In His time of desperation, it is a blessing that He shifted the focus and thought about Momma!
And in His time of desperation on that cross at Calvary, He shifted His focus from Himself, and thought about you, and took care of you, because He loves you: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). His relationship with you matters to Jesus, also.
On Calvary, Jesus fully felt the infirmity of mankind. “And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matt. 27:46, KJV). Whatever the agony He felt in the garden that caused Jesus to sweat like great drops of blood during prayer (Luke 22:44), it wasn’t nothing compared to this moment. Whatever agony His body felt as He hung with those nails impaled in His hands and feet, it was nothing compared to what He was feeling right now.
Placing all our sin upon Him, it is said, God turned His back on His Son. He turned His back on Jesus, and Jesus felt the worst thing He had ever felt before – separation from God. He had a moment of not feeling the Father’s presence with Him. When the Bible says, “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15), that is exactly what it means.
Jesus not only knew what it was to live in the flesh, but Jesus knew what it was to die in the flesh. Jesus knew what it was like to live in the presence of God. And through this moment, through this agony He currently felt, He felt the fullness of what man would feel if there was no reconciliation through His blood. He felt man’s lost state. He felt what man would feel like if God were to turn His back on them. Jesus felt it all and refused to come down from that cross. He refused to sin against the Father’s will, even in this!
On Calvary, Jesus fulfilled every prophecy. From the cross, He said, “I thirst” (After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst. – John 19:28).
Not even the smallest of details were overlooked on the cross. What may seem like an insignificant thing, Jesus fulfilled it all because your salvation is important and my salvation is important, and that we are able to trust in His salvation is important. One can only trust a God who keeps EVERY WORD, even down to the simplest, “I thirst”.
If it is prophesied, “My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death” (Psalm 22:15), Jesus said, I’ll fulfill it.
If it is prophesied, “They gave me also gall for my meat; and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink” (Psalm 69:21), Jesus said, I’ll not leave this cross until I fulfill it. The details of the prophecies are too important. The details of the promises this cross would heal and give are too important. Even the little details, I will do. People have to know that even the little promises from the Father matter the most because they matter the most!
So, in the brokenness of His body, Jesus said, “I Thirst!”
On Calvary, Jesus spoke, “It is finished!” The time of victory is almost here. In Matthew 5:17-18 Jesus said, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.”
Jesus didn’t tap out. Jesus didn’t give up in the middle of the process. Jesus didn’t let people, discouragement, or pain stop Him from fulfilling everything that that moment on Calvary was asking for, or for everything the Father asked of Him, because for Jesus, it wasn’t over until it was all over.
He didn’t stop! He had every right to. When they mocked Him, when they spit on Him, when they blindfolded Him, and slapped Him, and said, “Prophesy, who is it that smote thee?” (Luke 22:64), Jesus still didn’t stop. He kept going. He kept enduring everything the crucifixion was throwing at Him.
Jesus didn’t let none of it frustrate His purpose for coming to this earth. He let none of it get in the way of the salvation it would bring. Jesus let none of it stop Him from being able to utter those words “It is finished!”
Genesis 49:10-11 says, “The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be. Binding his foal unto the vine, and his ass’s colt unto the choice vine; he washed his garments in wine, and his clothes in the blood of grapes:” – “It is Finished!”
And finally, on Calvary Jesus spoke these words: “Father, into Your hands, I commend my spirit” (Luke 23:46). Speaking these words, Jesus fulfills Psalms 31:5 which says, “Into thy hand I commit my spirit: thou hast redeemed me, O LORD GOD of truth.”
1 Peter 2:23 tells us of Jesus, “When He was reviled, reviled not again, when he suffered, he threatened not; but committeth himself to him that judgeth righteously.”
He put it in the hands of God. He trusted God for the outcome. He did everything He was supposed to do and to God, He was leaving the rest. What a lesson for us to follow!
In John 16:28, Jesus said, “I came forth from the Father, and I am come into the world; again, I leave the world, and go to the Father.”
In Psalms 23:4, it promises, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.”
Isaiah 12:2 confidendently tells us, “Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the Lord Jehovah is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation.”
Jesus knew His body would see pain and death, but Jesus also knew that He body was promised not to see corruption. This body that hung on the cross today, was going to be resurrected on the third day. Therefore, “Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit!” Release! It was time to get out of here!
On Calvary, Jesus fulfilled every law. On Calvary, Jesus fulfilled every requirement against us. Everything we needed for a new life, started on that cross at Calvary.
In Christ, we are restored!
In Christ, we are blessed!
In Christ, we are made free!
In Christ, we are made new!
It had to happen! It had to happen on Calvary!
My friend, today we are living on the other side of Calvary. What our Lord Jesus did on that historical day that we call Good Friday wasn’t for Himself. It was for you. It was for me. That indescribable gift of the life of Christ was laid down there in that place that we might one day rise in freedom.
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