The wrinkled face of the earth offers many hills, from smooth, worn, grassy mounds to rugged, sharp, barren crags. The most prominent hills are given names so references to them are clearly set forth. Mt. Calvary was such a hill—the Place of the Skull. It must have reminded onlookers of death—a wicked apparition possessing the broken rocks like a doomed soul tortured by demons.

Calvary was chosen for executions by the Roman authorities and thus it was the workplace of the Roman soldiers. Like flies drawn to a dung heap the scavenger birds circled above the Place of the Skull, riding the thermals that boiled upward from the sun-heated rocks at the pinnacle.

It was all so routine. There were so many crimes against the state; the people in this corner of the Empire were a rebellious lot. They returned any kindness offered by a professional soldier with sneers and curses.

But today the duty on the ugly mountain of death would prove anything but routine. Three criminals, three crosses, and a crowd of onlookers climbed the hill today. Some of the people mourned—unusual for rebels and thieves—and other jeered, hurling insults at one of the victims. They put Him, the object of both the grief and the derision, on the center cross.

None of the men put up any kind of resistance. They were exhausted from the ordeal of getting to and up the hill bound to the crosspiece upon which He would die. It was a nasty business, but the soldiers had seen all there was to see many times before. They made quick work of the hammers and the nails and the raising of the crosses.

The Man on the center cross said things—that was unusual—and the things He said were even more strange:

  • something about forgiveness,
  • a prayer to His father,
  • something about His mother, and strangest of all—
  • “It is finished!”

The last thing He said was a shout—how could a man that weak have the strength, even as He breathed His last?

Wind and clouds and lightning and crashing thunder followed as the day grew as dark as the watch in the middle of the night. The earth trembled in protest to this execution and even as the tremors ran like sea waves through the rocks and sands on the hill, Jesus slumped in death.

It was finished, at least for now.

Mark 15:25-26
Now it was the third hour, and they crucified Him.

Lord Jesus, on this day, I stop the contemplate Calvary. Before I rush into the day, I pause to remember. Oh, I wasn’t really there but, as the old song said, “I’ve been to Calvary. I can say I’ve seen the Lord. I’ve been to Calvary through the witness of His Word.” Thank You for going only where You could go. Thank You for doing what only You could do. Thank You loving people so much—for loving me so much. Thank You for finishing the work of redemption, for it is finished—salvation is here! Your Kingdom has come in our hearts! The sin barrier is down so people and God can talk again. Into Calvary-cleansed hearts the Holy Spirit has come to abide—to live in us! Today we remember that horrendous hill, the Place of the Skull, the domain of death as the place where live begins again. For the glory of the Father!

Calvary Isn’t just another Hill

Words and Music: J.D. and Steve Phifer

1. Oh how true the story told of Calvary,
Where with pain and blood Christ purchased you and me.
And no matter how the world at large may feel,
Calv’ry isn’t just another hill.

Calv’ry isn’t just another hill.
It’s the place of submission to God’s will.
Dying there Jesus stamped redemption’s seal.
Calv’ry isn’t just another hill.

2. Now each day I make my way to Calvary.
There a crimson stream is flowing full and free.
That can cleanse your soul, your mind and body heal.
Calv’ry isn’t just another hill.


Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

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