By Newman Hall, Brooklyn, New York, November 3, 1867
They brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha
(which means The Place of the Skull). Mark 15:22
Jesus to Golgotha? The perfectly pure One—He who was holy,
harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners—He, brought to a spot regarded as
the most polluted and defiled, where skulls and bones marked the place of
public execution, and which was branded with the anathema of all—Jesus to
Golgotha? Jesus—the greatest Philanthropist whom the world has ever known—who
went about doing good, whose life was love—He, brought to the place to which
were dragged the violent and the dishonest, the assassin and the
murderer—Jesus to Golgotha? Jesus—the incarnate Deity—to whom all power was
given in heaven and on earth, whose will the armies of heaven obey—He, seized
by wicked men, and dragged as if He were a helpless victim of their cruelty,
instead of being their Monarch and their Judge—Jesus to Golgotha?
They bring Him—and He comes! They could not have
brought Him against His will. One thought in opposition to their malice would
have rescued Him from their impotent grasp. Therefore, if they brought Him, it
was because He did not resist them. He said of His own life, "No man takes it
from me—I lay it down of myself." Why, then, did He allow Himself to be
led to Golgotha—the pure to the place of impurity, the 'benevolent One' to a
spot identified with violence—the 'omnipotent One', as if, like common
culprits dragged there, he was helpless?
Because He was pure and holy He went to
Golgotha; for thus He fulfilled the purposes of the Father, as He said, "I
delight to do Your will, O my God."
Because He was benevolent He went to Golgotha; for
thus it was He must accomplish the redemption of the sinful race He came to
Because He was the Son of God He went to Golgotha; for it
was with a view to this very hour that He took our nature, and was found in
fashion as a man, "made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of
death." And so "they brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha."
Golgotha was a spot of all others the most disgraceful;
and so He who occupied the loftiest seat of honor in heaven stooped to the
very lowest, in order to lift up to the highest those for whom Golgotha had
been a more fitting place.
Golgotha was a region of death. Here was the palace
of the last enemy; here he held his revels. It was death's chief
temple; here ghastly sacrifices were continually offered up. Here, at the very
citadel of death, they led Christ to do battle with death.
Golgotha! There is a legend that it was the very center of
the earth's surface—the middle point of the habitable globe. We think nothing
of the legend, but very much of the truth it suggests. For the cross of Christ
is the true center of the church, where all believers meet, of all tribes and
nations, of all parties and sects. Here all may forget their differences; here
all, who from different directions converge, are one church.
Golgotha! There is a legend that the body of Adam was
buried there, and that the blood of Christ trickled down until it reached the
bones; which then were clothed again with flesh and revived. We think nothing
of the legend, but very much of the truth which it suggests. For when by faith
the blood of Christ is applied to our guilty souls, the old Adam, dead
by sin, lives again, but lives renewed and purified. Christ is the second
Adam, who remedies the ruin of the first, and by whom paradise lost becomes
Golgotha! It was the "place of a skull." And all are
going there. Every possession, every enjoyment, has death for its goal.
However beautiful the path, it leads us ever onward to Golgotha. How closely
does affection bind us to our friends! But they, too, are traveling to
Golgotha; and every day brings us nearer to that "place of a skull." Those who
have everything to make life happy, as well as those to whom life is a dreary
waste of disappointment, are on their way to Golgotha! Those who are radiant
with health and beauty, as well as those who are sickly or deformed, and to
whom existence is a burden, are on their way to Golgotha! Those who have
riches, and honor, and fame, and power, as well as the poor, the unknown or
despised, are on their way to Golgotha!
But if by faith we are disciples and followers of Jesus,
our Golgotha is changed by His. No longer the place of a skull, it
becomes the gateway of glory. Sorrow turns to joy, sickness to health,
poverty to riches, when, in company with Jesus, we are on our way to Golgotha.
Yes, afflictions all become blessings, and death is life, through the grace of
Him who was led to Golgotha.
Then we will look to Golgotha no longer as the place of a
skull, but as the Hill of Paradise, the Mount of Salvation. Golgotha? It is
where the lily and the rose exhale their fragrance. Golgotha? It is where the
Tree of Life grows, whose leaves are for the healing of the nations, and whose
fruit is ever fresh. Golgotha? It is where the river bursts forth, which flows
in every direction for the salvation of the world. Golgotha? It is thence that
we catch distant but transporting views of the glories of the heavenly city,
and see the open gates of the New Jerusalem inviting us to enter. Golgotha? It
is where heavenly breezes blow, and the Sun of Righteousness shines, and where
angel voices sing, "Lift your eyes; O, lift your eyes unto this hill, where
comes—where comes help." Yes, we will lift our eyes to this Hill of Salvation,
and triumph in this place of a skull—mysterious, life-giving, glorious
"They gave him to drink, wine mingled with myrrh, but He
received it not." This was the customary drugged draught, intended to
stupefy, and thus deaden pain. It may sometimes be thought necessary to
administer such a dose to a dying person; but the responsibility is very great
of giving it to a patient who has but a few days or hours to live, and whose
real life is thus cut short, inasmuch as all power of thought is destroyed.
There was a woman, of whom I heard, who, in her last illness, entreated her
physician, saying, "O, doctor, do let me go before my Maker sober." But
whatever we suffer, Christ suffered. He endured without mitigation all
the pain of that most painful death. Alleviations of suffering are allowed to
us, and may be received with thankfulness; but Jesus died as a
sacrifice, and would neither avail Himself of His divine power or of human
expedients to escape any portion of the trial, and so when "they gave Him wine
mingled with myrrh He would not drink." He would not allow His mind to be for
a moment incapacitated for His great work, and so "He would not drink." He had
to implore forgiveness for His murderers, and so "He would not drink." He had
to manifest sympathy for His mother, and commend her to another's care, and so
"He would not drink." He had to receive the prayer of the dying thief, and to
assure him of paradise, and so "He would not drink." He had to maintain the
battle with the foe, and to cry with the loud voice of victory, "It is
finished," and so "He would not drink."
"And they crucified Him." They tore off His clothing,
which the sick had touched for healing. With cruel nails they fastened to the
cross the feet which had borne Him about on errands of mercy, and the hands
which had been stretched out only to bless. They raised Him up to be an object
of their scorn, while His life's blood slowly ebbed away. Hear the blows of
the hammer which drives in those nails! Hear them, you careless ones! Jesus
was crucified for you. Can you neglect the salvation which cost Him so dear?
"Is it nothing to you, all you that pass by?"
Who nailed Him there? Was it the priests? Was it
Pilate? Was it the soldiers? It was our sins—yours and mine. Those sins struck
the hammer. We crucified Him. O, let us hate those sins; let us renounce them
forever. Backslider, will you crucify the Son of God afresh, and put Him to an
open shame? Shall we repeat, in any degree, so far as we are able, the insults
of His murderers? Lord, forgive us that we should ever have pierced You.
Henceforth may we crucify the world, our sins, ourselves. Henceforth let us
trust, adore, and love You as our only Savior, our Lord, our Friend, reigning
now on Your glorious throne, though once, for our redemption, crucified at