Picture of Calvary - Golgotha

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Picture of where Jesus was crucified

The location where Jesus died for the sins of the world is called Golgotha. In some religious traditions, this name refers to the location of the skull of Adam. The book of Luke calls this place Calvary in the King James Bible translation (Luke 23:33).

The picture above of a rocky outcrop, located north of Jerusalem's old city walls, is referred to as the "place of the skull" due its resemblance to a human skull (sunken eyes, nose, etc.). This escarpment, roughly 100 yards (91.4 meters) east of the Garden Tomb, is believed to be the Golgotha of the bible where the crucifixion of Jesus and two criminals occurred. The mighty Roman Empire conducted the executions.

The link between a skull and Golgotha (Calvary) can be found in the gospel accounts in the King James Bible.

"And when they were come unto a place called Golgotha, that is to say, a place of a skull . . ." (Matthew 27:33, see also Mark 15:22 and John 19:17)

In early writings, references to Golgotha state it is a hill looking like a skull very near a gate into the city of Jerusalem., References to Calvary, since 333 A.D., call it a small hill. Since the 6th century A.D., it has referred to the location of a mountain. The place of the skull, however, is not the traditional location of where Jesus died.

The traditional location of where Jesus hung on the cross and died was established by the Catholic Church. It was based on the testimony of Helena (mother of Constantine I) in 325. Helena also claimed to have found the place of Jesus' tomb and to have discovered the "true" wooden cross on which Christ was crucified. Constantine built the Church of the Holy Sepulcher around the whole site his mother said was where Jesus died. Prior to Helena's claim, a temple to Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, beauty, and sensual pleasure was on the site.

Crucifixion, as a slow, painful form of capital punishment, was used by the Persian Empire (559 to 330 B.C.), the Seleucid Empire (213 to 63 B.C.), the Carthaginians, Macedonians and the Romans. The Greek King Alexander the Great crucified 2,000 survivors from his siege of the city of Tyre in 332 B.C. In 337 A.D. Emperor Constantine the Great (Constantine I) abolished the practice of crucifixion in the Roman Empire. The English word excruciating, meaning something extremely painful or intense, comes from the Latin word for torture or pain out of or from crucifying.

Golgotha (Calvary) represents the final chapter and culmination of Jesus' earthly life. He lived a perfect life of 33 and 1/2 years so that, in 30 A.D., he could offer himself as the sinless, atoning sacrifice for ALL sins. One of the great paradoxes of his ministry is that, by willingly offering himself at the 'place of the skull' or place of DEATH, he made possible the gift of eternal LIFE for those who believe in him.

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