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Gene’s Daily Scriptural Postings.

Reflective Bible Study.

The Place of the Skull: Mark 15:33-39

Listen to this episode and/or subscribe on in Mark – Episode 44: As Mark describes the first part of Jesus’ crucifixion, discover some amazing things we can learn about Jesus’ death and about some of the symbolism surrounding the place Jesus hung on the cross. Read the transcript: For the next several podcast episodes, we will slow down and focus in on Jesus’ time on the cross. In many ways, this event is the climax of the entire Bible record, and this event could be considered the climax of history, or we could say “His-Story”. However, nothing in this event seemed positive at the time it was happening, that is unless you were Satan or one of the religious leaders pushing for Jesus’ death. This moment in history was evil’s big time in the spotlight. Let’s read how Mark’s gospel describes the first portion of the crucifixion, and unpack some things we can learn from this event. Our passage for this episode is found in Mark, chapter 15, and we will read from the New Century Version. Starting in verse 22, Mark tells us that: 22 They led Jesus to the place called Golgotha, which means the Place of the Skull. 23 The soldiers tried to give Jesus wine mixed with myrrh to drink, but he refused. 24 The soldiers crucified Jesus and divided his clothes among themselves, throwing lots to decide what each soldier would get. 25 It was nine o’clock in the morning when they crucified Jesus. 26 There was a sign with this charge against Jesus written on it: the king of the jews. Let’s stop reading here. Each one of the verses we just read has some fascinating details in it. First off, the place Jesus was crucified was called Golgotha, and the meaning of Golgotha is “the Place of the Skull”. This is interesting in my mind because to get a name like this, this location needed something special about it. When looking up information about this location, there is some speculation about how Golgotha received this name. However, I found the following detail fascinating. Golgotha may be named this way because it was a hill that resembled a skull, because one church tradition said that Adam was buried there, or because of all the people (or skulls) that were executed there. When seeing the detail that Adam was buried there, I chuckled a little bit because how could anyone know where Adam was buried since he died before the flood and the flood radically changed the surface of the earth. However, the rational explanation for this theory is that Noah excavated Adams bones and brought them with them on the ark. Then following the flood, Shem and Melchizedek traveled to the resting place of Noah’s Ark, retrieved Adam’s bones from it, and were led by Angels to Golgotha, which is described as a skull-shaped hill at the center of the Earth. This location was also where the serpent’s head had been crushed following the Fall of Man. I found this theory to be fascinating, and if it turns out to be true, then it gives a lot of symbolism not only to the significance of Jesus death, but that the place Jesus died was connected with the origin of sin and with humanity’s fall. It also connects Jesus with Adam, and in other parts of the New Testament, Jesus is symbolically referred to as a second Adam. Also in these verses, I find it fascinating that Mark describes Jesus being offered wine mixed with myrrh to drink. This detail is fascinating because one of the gifts Jesus received when He was born was myrrh. The wise men brought Jesus gold, frankincense, and myrrh. This means that at the beginning of Jesus’ life, He was brought myrrh and at the end of His life, He again is offered myrrh. With this recurrence of myrrh, I wonder what might be its significance. Looking at myrrh in the Old Testament, we discover that myrrh is a key ingredient in the oil that was used to anoint and dedicate the temple, priests, and kings. However, this was myrrh used for anointing, not ingesting. Wine mixed with myrrh likely was given as a way to help numb the pain, and I believe Jesus refused this because He did not want rumors circulating that He was drunk while on the cross, even if the amount of wine given wouldn’t likely have been enough to intoxicate someone. In addition to being in the wine that was offered to Jesus at His death, myrrh shows up again in Jesus’ burial, but in John’s gospel, when Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus bring a 100 pound mixture of spices, which included myrrh by name. While we aren’t focusing in on John’s gospel in this year of podcasting, myrrh in this context symbolically connects Jesus’ death and His being anointed as priest and king. Following Jesus refusing the wine, Mark describes the soldiers dividing Jesus’ clothes and gambling for them. While Mark doesn’t give much context or symbolism for this detail, at least one of the other gospel writers includes the detail that this fulfilled an Old Testament prophecy. After describing Jesus’ clothing being gambled for, Mark tells us that the crucifixion began at nine o’clock in the morning. This detail is important in my mind because it shows how quickly and earnestly the religious leaders wanted Jesus condemned to death, with the sentence carried out. The previous day had ended with Jesus walking freely around Jerusalem as He left the temple that day, but less than 18 hours later, Jesus is dying on a cross. Many of Jesus’ biggest supporters would have gone to bed that night believing everything was fine, but they would wake up the following morning, get ready for their day, head into Jerusalem, and pass Jesus hanging on the cross. This was evil’s time in the spotlight, and Satan was not going to give up this opportunity to see Jesus’ life end. The speed of Jesus’ crucifixion and the events of His betrayal and arrest remind me that life can change in an instant. However, while life can instantly become worse when it was better before, Jesus’ death also makes the reverse possible. Because of Jesus’ death, our lives that are destined to end in death because of our sin can instantly be given a different destiny. When we place our faith, hope, trust, and belief in Jesus and His sacrifice, Jesus accepts our sinful lives as being included in His death, and He gives us the assurance of the life He deserved. The new life Jesus offers us is a life that begins today and it extends into eternity. Just as Jesus spent a brief period of time resting in the grave, we may experience this rest as well, but like Jesus was resurrected, we too can look forward to our own resurrection at the moment Jesus returns to take us home! As we come to the end of another podcast episode, here are the challenges I will leave you with: As I always challenge you to do, intentionally seek God first in your life and choose to place your faith, hope, trust, and belief in Jesus and in His sacrifice on our behalf. Through Jesus’ death, we can have the assurance that our sins are forgiven and that we can have a new life with God that extends into eternity. Also, continue to pray and study the Bible for yourself to learn and grow closer to God each and every day. By studying the Bible, discover what God wants to teach you as you come to Him in prayer and study His message of hope. And as I end every set of challenges by saying in one way or another, never stop short of, back away from, chicken out of, or drift away from where God wants to lead you to in your life with Him! Listen to this episode and/or subscribe on this article on the web on it's official page: The Place of the Skull: Mark 15:33-39

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