Daily Dose, July 21 — Mountaintop Experiences

  So they took Jesus; and carrying the cross by himself, he went out to what is called The Place of the Skull, which in Hebrew is called Golgotha. There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, with Jesus between them. Pilate also had an inscription written and put on the cross. It read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” Many of the Jews read this inscription, because the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, in Latin and in Greek. Then the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but, ‘This man said, I am King of the Jews.’” Pilate answered, “What I have written I have written.” When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his clothes and divided them into four parts, one for each soldier. They also took his tunic; now the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from the top. So they said to one another, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see who will get it.” This was to fulfil what the scripture says, “They divided my clothes among themselves, and for my clothing they cast lots.” And that is what the soldiers did. Meanwhile, standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, “Woman, here is your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home. After this, when Jesus knew that all was now finished, he said (in order to fulfil the scripture), “I am thirsty.” A jar full of sour wine was standing there. So they put a sponge full of the wine on a branch of hyssop and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the wine, he said, “It is finished.” Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. (John 19:16-30) There’s one mountain top that’s better than any other. It’s not even a mountain top, really. It’s more like a hillside. A place that was just a little higher than the ground around it. It isn’t a towering peak or a majestic overlook. It’s humble. It’s simple. We sometimes refer to it as “Mount Calvary.” The Scriptures refer to the place as Golgotha, which means “the place of the skull.” Though it may have been called that because of the way the place actually appeared -- caves set into a small hill resembling a mouth and eye sockets -- it’s more likely that it got its name from what happened there. It was a place of executions. It was a place where men lost their lives. It was a sobering place. And yet, for us who place our faith in Christ, it is the best place on the planet! On Mount Calvary -- the place of the skull -- Christ offered up his life for us. On that (slightly) high place, God accomplished for us what we cannot accomplish for ourselves. It was there that forgiveness was completed and our sins were taken off of our own shoulders. It’s a place unlike any that has ever existed or will ever exist. It’s a scandalous place. It’s a beautiful place. It’s a divine place. It’s a place that God created for you…and me…and all the world. There’s a simple song by Rick Altizer that considers the meaning of that high place. Here are a few of the lyrics:

When you walked up that hill, you stood high above everything When you walked up that hill, you became the strongest king Now Heaven and Earth, and all the powers therein Cannot confine me, hold me a prisoner to sin Yes, death lost its sting and its chill When you walked up that hill.

Today, I invite you to “climb” that hill and consider what was accomplished there. It was for you. It was for me. -- Rev. Brad Greene