Between the Gardens

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  • Susie O'Neal

GOLGOTHA- THE GARDEN OF VICTORY

Example of a tomb similar to the one that Jesus would have been laid in

On The Night He Was Betrayed

When we left off, we were in the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus agonized over the imminent events he was going to have to endure. Immediately after he rose from prayer, the ground shook from the marching feet of a large crowd that stormed toward the garden. The crowd included Roman soldiers and temple guards; hatred and contempt for Jesus burning wildly like the flaming torches that lit up the night sky. A strong breeze blew through the leaves of the olive trees. Jesus warns his disciples that it was time to wake up and that his hour had come.

Betrayed with a Kiss

His disciple, Judas, was at the front of the angry mob. The sound of shields and swords clanged together as the crowd came to a halt when Judas approached Jesus and gave him a kiss on the cheek. In the Holy Land, at this time, this would have been a common greeting among friends. However, this was no friendly greeting. It was the signal Judas had orchestrated to assure that the chief priests arrested the correct person.

I imagine those two in that moment. The betrayer and the betrayed. In Matthew 26:50, Jesus said to Judas, “Do what you came for, friend.” Friend. It seems almost unimaginable that Jesus could still call him a friend. This is what love is. Jesus doesn’t know how to do anything but love, even when one of his closest companions has set in motion the most gruesome death that anyone can fathom.

Jesus calls out to the crowd and asks them why they have come to him with swords and clubs. He answers his own question by saying, “But this has all taken place that the writings of the prophets might be fulfilled.” (v.56).

And then, as if Judas’ betrayal did not leave enough of a sting, ALL the disciples deserted him and fled.

Jesus is sentenced to death

After Jesus was arrested, he was brought before the chief priests, and then he was sent to Pilate. In the gospel of John we are told that Jesus told Pilate that his kingdom was not of this world, but that his kingdom was from another place. At any moment, Jesus could have called on all the powers of Heaven and put an end to this. Nevertheless, he had conceded in Gethsemane that God’s will be done. Pilate tried to make the matter disappear, he did not believe that Jesus had done anything that was worth a crucifixion, but to no avail.

The people, who just days before, had cried “Hosanna, hosanna” and welcomed him like a king, shouted at the top of their lungs for his blood, “Crucify him, crucify him.”

I imagine the devil was quite pleased with himself at this point, it all seemed to be going so well.

Golgotha- The place of the skull

The old rugged cross where He died for me

After being sentenced to death, Jesus was mocked, spit on, beaten, scourged, and a crown of thorns was placed like a vice of sheer agony through his skull. Weak, bleeding profusely from the lashes he had endured, skin ripped away from his body, every part of him screaming in pain, he was then made to carry the cross from Jerusalem to Golgotha. This would have been about a 0.2 mile (0.3km) trip. This is just an estimate, however, since no one knows the exact route that they made Jesus take. For Jesus, it probably felt like hundreds of miles.

Golgotha in Aramaic means “the place of the skull”. Golgotha was just outside the city and along a main road. The Romans made it a point to ensure that as many people as possible would be able to witness their crucifixions. I suppose it was symbolic of their power and oppression over the Jews. Perhaps it was meant to be a deterrent for anyone who would dare commit a crime punishable by death. Or, perhaps, the Romans were simply sadistic and enjoyed flaunting the barbaric act.

This was the place where Jesus’ journey would end. It was here that he would be nailed to the cross and he would die for you and for me. I came across a description of what the crucifixion would have been physically like for Jesus. It is from sandyadams.org and is given below:

The Crucifixion

“As his body slowly sags down, it puts more weight on the nails in the wrists. Excruciating, fiery pain shoots along the fingers and up the arms—the nails in the wrists are putting pressure on the median nerves. As he pushes himself upward, he places his full weight on the nail through his feet. Again he feels the searing agony of the nail tearing through the nerves.

As the arms fatigue, cramps weep through the muscles, knotting them in deep, relentless, throbbing pain. With these cramps comes the inability to push himself upward to breathe. Air can be drawn into the lungs, but it can’t be exhaled. Jesus would be fighting to raise himself up in order to get even one small breath.

Finally, carbon dioxide builds in the lungs, and in the bloodstream, and the cramps partially subside. Spasmodically he is able to push himself upward to exhale and bring in some life-giving oxygen. He endures hours of limitless pain. Cycles of twisting, joint-rendering cramps, intermittent partial asphyxiation, and searing pain.

Jesus cries out to his father, “My God, my God why have you forsaken me?” But, it is not because of the pain, it is because the sin that Jesus was covered in on that cross was so abominable, that God had to turn his face away…He couldn’t look at his son.

Tissue is torn from his lacerated back as he moves up and down the rough timber. Then another agony begins. He experiences a crushing pain deep within the chest as the pericardium slowly fills with serum and compresses the heart. It is almost over now.

The compressed heart is struggling to pump heavy, thick, sluggish blood into the tissues. Tortured lungs are making a frantic effort to gasp in small gulps of air. Jesus could feel the chill of death. Jesus looks to the heavens and says, ‘It is finished.'”

He did it for you. He did it for me.

The Garden Tomb

After Jesus had died and was taken down from the cross, the gospel of John records that Joseph of Arimathea, a secret follower of Jesus had asked Pilate for his body and it was granted to him. “At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid.” (John 19:41). This is where Jesus’ body was prepared, wrapped, and placed. The stone rolled in front. Jesus was dead.

Then on the third day, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed. In the gospel of Luke we are told that two gleaming men appeared in the tomb and said, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen!

Jesus had defeated death. He had silenced the boast of sin and the grave. The heavens roared as he was raised to life again. The fulfillment of the plan that had been set in motion in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve brought the curse of sin into the world, had finally been fulfilled. God had reconciled himself with man.

Oh what a sweet victory that Jesus bought and paid for us!

Jesus has defeated the enemy, but the story is far from over….we wait in anticipation for the final garden, the last Eden, when a new heaven and a new earth will be established.

Until next week….

Blessings,

Susie

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