First Presbyterian Church of Blackwood
21 E. Church Street
Blackwood, NJ 08012
Sermon Notes (Sunday ~ September 4, 2022)
Rev. Dr. Mouris A. Yousef, Pastor
“A Place Called Golgotha!”
“Then they brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull),” says the gospel of Mark chapter 15:22. Much can be said about Golgotha. What comes to your mind when you think about Golgotha? Is it the suffering that Jesus endured? Is it the horrible pain, the anguish, and the agony of death by crucifixion? Is it an image of a Savior who is facing the darkest hour as He takes the wrath of God upon Himself? Is it the unconditional love of God the Father? Is it the shout of victory as Christ declared, “It’s finished”? It’s hard to fully capture what happened at Calvary.
Located immediately outside Jerusalem’s walls, stands a hill that looks from far away like a skull. That’s why the Greek speakers called it “Golgotha”, which means a “skull.” According to many scholars, Golgotha and the ancient site of Mount Moriah, where Abraham was willing to offer his son, Isaac, as a sacrifice, is the same place. At Golgotha, God spared Isaac’s life, and two thousand years later, God redeemed the fallen humans through the sacrifice of His only Son.
We have been looking at places this summer, and we cannot wrap up this summer sermon series before reflecting on two more places: Golgotha and the Resurrection Garden. So, today we will focus on Golgotha and next Sunday, we will get the chance to reflect on the Resurrection Garden. Two reminders from Calvary this morning.
First: Calvary is a Reminder that God is still in Control
If you were standing there that first Good Friday, the only conclusion anyone could reach is that the Devil won the battle. Here is Jesus of Nazareth hung on a cross dying. Even those who had followed Jesus for three years thought it’s over. That’s the end.
No one knew that God was working behind the scenes. No one knew that God was orchestrating the tiniest details of His redemptive plan. No one knew that God is still in control. No one knew that at Golgotha, God was providing for the salvation of humanity.
At Mount Moriah, God proved to Abraham that He is still in control. As Abraham bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood, taking his knife to slay his son, the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!” “Here I am,” he replied. “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son” Genesis 22:9-12.
Genesis 22:14 tells us, “So Abraham called that place Jehovah Jireh “The Lord Will Provide.” On Mount Moriah, God was in control. At Calvary, God was in control. The calmness with which Jesus faced the darkest hour of His life at Calvary speaks a volume about His faith in a God, a Heavenly Father, who is always in control. When difficulties enter our lives, we can face them with calm—even grateful—assurance when we remember that God is in control.
Second: Calvary is a Reminder to Finish the Race Set before us
At Calvary, Jesus set the race God the Father put before Him. John 19:30 tells us, “When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” It was not a shout of defeat, rather, it was a shout of victory. The Greek word is “tetelestai” – it’s finished. All our sins are taken away. All our guilt has been taken away. Our salvation is won. Our sins are forgiven! “It’s finished.” These words do not specify the end of Jesus’ life, but the completion of His mission.
I am thankful that Jesus endured to the end because this is a reminder to stand firm in the Lord until our mission is done. Sometimes we grow weary in our own struggle, but at Calvary, we get to remember that we, too, can finish our race when we look to Jesus for strength, for grace, and for patient endurance. God has called each and every one of us to accomplish a certain mission in life. Your calling is very unique. Christ was determined to finish His race so should we.
Friends, in 1921, American hymn writer, Jennie Evelyn Hussey, wrote the famous hymn, “Lead Me to Calvary.” The chorus of this hymn states, “Lest I forget Gethsemane … Lest I forget thine agony … Lest I forget thy love for me … Lead me to Calvary.” A place called Golgotha. What would you do when you find yourself at Golgotha? When your find yourself in Golgotha, remember that you’re not beyond the sovereignty of the Almighty God. As we face our pain and endure the hardships of this life, let’s remember that God is still in control. At Golgotha, we remember to finish the race of faith the Lord God set before us. We do so as we look unto Jesus the author and perfecter of our faith. In the Name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen!
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