Does everyone know the difference between the words “Calvary” and
“cavalry”? They're easily confused, but they mean very different things.
The tip off is that one of them is a proper name and therefore capitalized.
“Calvary” is the place where Jesus was crucified. “Cavalry” are
mobile military forces using horses or other quick modes of maneuver.
We sometimes sing hymns that mention “Calvary”. The place outside of
Jerusalem where Jesus was crucified was called “Golgotha” in the
Aramaic language, which is the language spoken by Jesus and the apostles.
The word “Golgatha” translated into English means “The Skull.”
Several centuries after Jesus, Jerome made a Latin translation of the New
Testament, (The Latin Vulgate) and translated “Golgotha” into the Latin word
for skull - “calvaria”. When the KJV translators came to the word
“Golgotha”, instead of translating it into English “The Skull”
they retained the Latin “calvaria” and altered the spelling a little.
Consequently, when people read “calvary” in the KJV, very few know
what they are reading; “And when they were come to the place, which is
called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the
right hand, and the other on the left.” (KJV) or “And when they came
to the place called The Skull, there they crucified Him and the criminals,
one on the right and the other on the left.” (NASB) (Luke 23:33).
My own preference is the English translation since I do not know much Latin.
In our minds, “the place called 'the skull'” does much more to
suggest the death and decay of that awful place. Think of the difference: we
sing “There my burdened soul found liberty at Calvary” when actually
it would be “There my burdened soul found liberty at 'The Skull.'”
The mental picture is much more dreadful, and it ought to be.
The Sun Was Darkened
Was this a natural eclipse or something beyond (Matthew 27:45)? It would be,
as we count time, from 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm that the world was in darkness.
Efforts to reconcile the darkness with a natural eclipse fail to satisfy the
requirements of the eyewitness testimony. We know when the crucifixion
occurred. (Matthew 26:2). No natural eclipse could have occurred then. The
moon was full and the earth was between it and the sun. Additionally, the
darkness would only last a few minutes, not three hours. But these were not
the darkest three hours of human history because the sun “refused to
shine, and shut his glories in” but rather because the full force of all
of humanity's evil was being met and suffered for by the innocent Son of God
on the cross.
The Cross On Which the Prince of
There has been some controversy about the shape of the cross. Of course, it
is not necessary to know the shape of the cross - it makes little difference
as the shape is unimportant.
The Greek word “stauros” is translated “cross”. Literally, it
means “stake.” Jehovah's Witnesses teach that it was one piece of
wood and not a “cross” at all. Was it shaped like an “I” ,
like a “T” or like an “X”? Romans used all three types, so it
really could have been any of the three if all we had was that information
alone. (John 19:17-25).
I doubt it can be proven, but a couple indications do shed some light. The
New Testament itself refers to the “cross” as a “tree”
(Galatians 3:13; cf. Deuteronomy 21:22,23). Also, recall that Pilate had
ordered an inscription to be placed above Jesus' head (Matthew 27:37). With
an “I” His hands would have been above His head. With an “X”
there is no place above His head. The “T” seems to fit best. But the
point is not the shape of the cross, but rather Who died on it, and why, and
what our response is going to be.
“Eli” or “Elijah”
Jesus had been on the cross about six hours. All strength is almost gone. He
cried out, no doubt His agonized speech was slurred, and the volume of it
would not have been great. “About the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud
voice, saying, "ELI, ELI, LAMA SABACHTHANI?" that is, "MY GOD, MY
GOD, WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME?" And some of those who were standing
there, when they heard it, began saying, "This man is calling for Elijah."
Apparently, His word were mumbled and therefore unclear. We recall the
prophecy that said He would make this statement (Psalm 22:1; 6-8; 14-18). In
Jesus, it is fulfilled, as are dozens of others that day.
Blood and Water
After Jesus had died, but in order to remove all doubt, a spear thrust into
Jesus' side apparently found its way to Jesus' heart (John 19:32-37). The
spear would have had an iron head, sharp, and as big as a man's hand. The
heart, surrounded by a membrane of liquid called the pericardium which keeps
the surface of the heart from becoming dry during its continual motion.
Though Jesus was already dead, if He had not been, this would have killed
Him. Jesus was dead when they later removed Him from the cross.
John recorded his gospel and used Roman time (as we do… 6:00 am is the
“sixth hour” - John 19:14). Matthew, writing especially to Jews, used Hebrew
time (6:00 a.m. would start the count; 9:00 am would be “the third hour”;
12:00 noon would be the sixth hour”).
There were actually three inscriptions placed on the cross, each saying the
same thing but in three different languages; Hebrew, Latin and Greek.
Matthew, Mark, Luke and John tell us what they said. There is a slight
variance, but this is explained by understanding that none are giving a
complete translation of all three languages, but each is emphasizing that
Jesus was said to be “the King of the Jews” in each of the
When we look at the event that took place on the hill called “The Skull”,
we see the gracious Redeemer who was willing to go through this awful ordeal
so that our sins might be paid for. Hopefully, we understand a little better
how repugnant our sins must be to our holy and righteous God of light, and
how much He must still love us to allow Jesus to make atonement for us in
this way. For those who want to see Jesus, they will find in Him the mercy,
grace and power of God.
From The Bradley Banner 7/9/2006
Published by the Bradley Church of Christ
1505 E. Broadway
Bradley, IL 60915