People, Places, and Events Regarding the Crucifixion and Resurrection

THE MOUNT OF OLIVES. Jewish tribes coming to Jerusalem in the Bible era always camped in the same places. Those from Galilee always camped on the southern end of the Mount of Olives. To get from Bethany, where Jesus had spent the night, to Jerusalem from there Jesus had to travel through their encampment. Galileans knew Jesus, much of His ministry was performed there. On His way to Jerusalem He passed through their encampment. As He did, they shouted “Hosanna” and other praises. He was their champion. Galleans being rural people, farmers, shepherds, and fishermen, they wanted the Romans driven out. Their motivation for shouting praise was likely not of Him as Messiah, but potential liberator. It was nonetheless fitting praise.

Later in Jerusalem the religious and merchandising community led the crowd shouting “Crucify Him,” They were profiting from the business provided by the Romans and wanted to placate them, thus they were inclined to condemn Jesus.

It was not the same crowd shouting the two different expressions as commonly thought in Western culture. 

THE CAVE IN GETHSEMANE. After an extended and exhausting day in Jerusalem, Jesus went to a place well known to Him in the Garden of Gethsemane. He was already too exhausted to climb the Mount of Olives and return to Bethany.

In the garden was a cave still in existence today. Jesus was in it when Roman soldiers came for Him. The text says Jesus “went out” to meet them. The Greek text means “He went out from within” to meet them. This further indicates He was within some enclosure, the cave.

A BOARD GAME AT CALVARY. Scripture notes Roman soldiers gambled for Jesus’ garments at Calvary. There was a game popular with Roman soldiers called the Basalie, or King’s Game. The markings would have been made on a stone. In playing the game a criminal, and if one was not available a straw man, was mocked as a king and abused. In that instance Jesus was their mock king being belittled .

ON CALVARY’S HILL. There is no evidence in the Bible Calvary was a hill or mount. The concept was made popular by Cecil Francis Alexander (1818-95) in a hymn regarding the crucifixion entitled, “There Is A Green Hill Faraway.”

THE HEIGHT OF THE CROSS. Jesus was offered a sip from a sponge on a reed. Such reeds were approximately 18″ long. Thus, His head was about 9″ to 10″ high, no higher. 

THE CROSS. The cross was not made of dogwood according to a popular thought. Dogwoods don’t grow in Israel or the region. It’s shape may have been as is normally thought. However, Romans crucified many people using anything that resembled a cross, such as the fork of a tree. Some were even “X” or “T” shaped.

GUARDS AT THE TOMB. Jewish leaders asked Pilate for a guard to make certain the tomb was secure. Shortly before this Herod had disgracefully divorced his wife, the daughter of the King of the Nabataeans, Aretas domiciled in Petra. Aretas retaliated by engaging Herod’s forces in battle east of the Dead Sea. Herod’s forces suffered heavy losses in the battle. There were scarcely enough to keep the peace during the festival apart from Roman soldiers. In response to the request made of Pilate the scarceness of Jewish forces prompted Him to say, “You have a guard.” It is commonly thought he was giving them a guard.. However, it is more likely he was saying “You have a guard, your Temple Guard, use the guard you have.” This being true there were not members of Herod’s forces or Roman soldiers at the tomb resurrection morning, but Jewish members of the Temple Guard.

REGARDLESS of such details as these, it is the FACT Jesus suffered, died, and was resurrected for our sins. It is that we celebrate at Easter.