The place where Jesus was crucified was known as “a place of a skull” (Matthew 27:33). The Apostle John noted that it was “called in Hebrew Golgotha” (John 19:17) and Luke’s gospel provided the Latin version of this word, calvaria which is where the English term Calvary comes from. The exact location of this spot is unknown, but some think it “may have been a small hill (though the Gospels say nothing of a hill) that looked like a skull, or it may have been so named because of the many executions that took place there” (note on Mark 15:22). The name of the site was probably given so that there would be no confusion about the fact that a public execution actually took place. It is possible that Jesus knew of the site before he was taken there and had mentally prepared himself for the inevitable crucifixion that was going to take place.

Crucifixion was “a Roman means of execution in which the victim was nailed to a cross. Men condemned to death were usually forced to carry a beam of the cross often weighing 30 or 40 pounds, to the place of crucifixion. A cross might be shaped like a T, an X, a Y, or an I, as well as like the traditional form. A condemned man would normally carry a beam of it to the place of execution. Somewhere along the way Simon of Cyrene took Jesus’ cross (Mark 15:21), probably because Jesus was weakened by the flogging. Heavy wrought-iron nails were driven through the wrists and the heel bones. If the life of the victim lingered too long, death was hastened by breaking his legs (see John 19:33). Archeologists have discovered the bones of a crucified man, near Jerusalem, dating between A.D. 7 and 66, which shed light on the position of the victim when nailed to the cross. Only slaves, the basest of criminals, and offenders who were not Roman citizens were executed in this manner. First-century authors vividly describe the agony and disgrace of being crucified” (notes on Mark 15-21, 24 and John 19:17).

Luke’s record of Jesus’ crucifixion contains details that are not found in the other three gospels. Luke opened his letter with this statement:

Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us, even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word; it seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus, that thou mightiest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed. (Luke 1:1-4)

Luke’s motivation for writing his letter to Theophilus was to explain what had happened to Jesus in terms that were understandable to a non-Jewish Roman citizen. Luke was a physician and had spent a considerable amount of time traveling with the Apostle Paul. His education was probably an advantage in translating the Jewish records into modern language that could be understood by the general population. Luke’s use of the term calvaria, or in English Calvary, as the name of the place where Jesus was crucified has made it a well-known landmark that is still visited some 2000 years later.



The treatment Jesus received from the Jewish religious leaders and Roman government officials made a mockery of the fact that he was not only the Savior of the world, but the Creator of the universe. It says in Mark 14:65 that after Jesus was accused of blasphemy, some of the Jewish counsel “began to spit on him, and to cover his face, and to buffet him, and to say unto him, Prophesy: and the servants did strike him with the palms of their hands.” At one point, a crown of thorns was fastened to Jesus’ skull in order to mock him about the title the Roman governor, Pilate had assigned to him, “King of the Jews” (Mark 15:18). Matthew’s description of the incident stated:

Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the common hall, and gathered unto him the whole band of soldiers. And they stripped him, and put on him a scarlet robe. And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand: and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews! And they spit upon him, and took the reed, and smote him on the head. And after they had mocked him, they took the robe off him, and put his own raiment on him, and led him away to crucify him. (Matthew 27:27-31)

The two Greek words that are translated mocked in this passage of scripture, en (G1722)and paizo (paheedĀ“-zo) (G3815), suggest that the Roman soldiers were bullying Jesus, treating him as if he were a child on a playground that they could easily take advantage of. An interesting thing to note about this situation was that Jesus had previously told Peter in the garden of Gethsemane to put away his sword and said, “Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels?” (Matthew 26:53, ESV).

The apparent disadvantage Jesus had in dealing with the Roman soldiers was not because he lacked physical or spiritual resources. Jesus intentionally allowed himself to be mocked and tortured because it was necessary for him to do so in order to fulfill his role as Israel’s Messiah. In his final conversation with Jesus, Pilate indicated he was willing to release Jesus if he would cooperate with his interrogation (John 19:10). It was only because Jesus refused to answer his questions and the Jews insisted on his crucifixion that Pilate decided to wash his hands of the matter and do what the people wanted him to. According to John’s gospel, it was the day of Preparation of the Passover and it was about the sixth hour” when Pilate said to the Jews, “Behold your King!” (John 19:14). Then, they cried out, “Away with him, away with him, crucify him…So he delivered him over to them to be crucified” (John 19:15-16).