On A Hill Far Away
by John D. Morris, Ph.D.
And He bearing His cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha (John 19:17).
The Hebrew word Golgotha and the Latin word calvarie actually mean skull. The Romans had selected a place of execution outside Jerusalem (Hebrews 13:12) but near the city (John 19:20), near a public highway (Matthew 27:39), and easily visible from some distance away (Mark 15:40). This has led many to speculate that it was on a hill, as in the first verse of the well-loved hymn, The Old Rugged Cross.
On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross, The emblem of suffering and shame; And I love that old cross where the dearest and best For a world of lost sinners was slain.
Truly His cross involved great suffering: Christ also suffered for us. . . . Who His own self bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed (I Peter 2:21,24). Likewise, it involved great shame: Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree (Galatians 3:13). But this suffering and shame was not in vain, for as we see in both passages above, it was on our behalf. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13).
However, Gods dearest and best, indeed Gods only begotten son (John 3:16) was slain, not so much for friends, but for enemies! A world of lost sinners put Him on the cross. But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. . . . When we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son (Romans 5:8,10). So Ill cherish the old rugged cross. JDM