Where Did Jesus Die?
Have you ever wondered where Jesus died? Where was Jesus crucified? Was it on Calvary Hill near Jerusalem or somewhere else entirely? What evidence exists to prove where Jesus' death actually took place?
These are all questions that have yet to be answered definitively, but there is much historical evidence that can help us come to an informed conclusion.
In this blog post, we will explore the scriptures and history to find out where Jesus likely died and why this exact location is so important for Christians around the world.
Where Did Jesus Christ Die?
Jesus was crucified at a place called Golgotha also called Calvary. It is often referred to as "the place of the skull" due to its rocky appearance and the stone having the appearance of a skull. It is placed outside of Jerusalem’s city walls, where criminals were executed in order to separate them from the rest of society.
To those who believe, which includes the vast majority of followers of Christianity around the world, this place is a powerful symbol; one that has been venerated for generations. The death of Jesus is an important cornerstone in the Christian faith and Golgotha remains stamped upon its history being the place where Jesus died.
Golgotha: The Place Where Jesus Died
You can visit the place where Jesus died today. Golgotha also known by its Latin word Calvary, why it is called Calvary Hill, is located where the church of the Holy Sepulchre is today. It is in the Old City of Jerusalem positioned in the northwest quarter or Christian quarter.
Golgotha, called "the place of the skull" is known for the stone formation on the side of the mountain that resembles a skull.
It is most closely associated with Jesus Christ's crucifixion and subsequent resurrection from the dead. Prior to this event, however, Golgotha was already a place of great importance -- not just for Judeans but the world over.
This is because it was believed to be an execution site used by Alexander Jannaeus on criminals who committed heinous acts. He believed that in death his enemies could be conquered and thus secure his power over his land as a ruler. As such, he would have criminals hung on crosses at Golgotha as a terrifying example of what happened to those who wronged him. In 88 BC, Jannaeus crucified 800 Pharisees.
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre
The church of the Holy Sepulchre is believed to be planted where Jesus was crucified, buried, and resurrected. This site has held spiritual significance since ancient times and remains an integral part of many denominations of Christianity to this day.
According to tradition, Roman Emperor Constantine ordered the construction of a magnificent basilica in 326 AD where the garden tomb of Jesus is believed to have been located.
Since then, the church of the Holy Sepulchre has gone through multiple renovations and expansions but at its core, it still stands as a testimony to the faith that was instilled during its inception centuries ago.
Besides being one the oldest continuously running places of worship in history, it is home to some important artifacts associated with Jesus' death - including what is purported to be a relic from his own cross.
The Gospel Accounts of Jesus' Death
There are four accounts in the Gospels about Jesus' death at the place called Golgotha. The New Testament of the Bible contains four books that are called the Gospels. Each of these four books, Matthew, Mark, Luke (which are considered the synoptic gospels), and John, gives an account of Jesus' life, death, and resurrection.
Matthew 27:33 says, "And when they came to a place called Golgotha, which means Place of a Skull." This scripture is in the context of Jesus' crucifixion.
The prior verses specifically verse 31 tells us, "And after they had mocked Him, they took the cloak off Him and put His own garments back on Him, and led Him away to crucify Him" (Matthew 27:31).
The verses after verse 33 do not mention Jesus traveling anymore past Golgotha, "they gave Hi wine mixed with bile to drink; and after tasting it, He was unwilling to drink it. And when they had crucified Him, they divided His garments among themselves casting lots" (Matthew 27:34-35).
Mark 15:22 says, "Then they brought Him to the place Golgotha, which is translated, Place of a Skull."
In this verse, it tells the reader that they brought Jesus Christ to Golgotha, and in verses 23 and 24 it mentions as it does in Matthew that they gave Jesus mixed wine and they had Jesus crucified on that skull hill.
Luke 23:33 says, "And when they came to the place called The Skull. there they crucified Him and the criminals, one on the right and the other on the left."
In this verse, the place called "The Skull" is referring to Golgotha. It is shown in Matthew's Gospel that "the Place of a Skull" and "The Skull" are in direct relation to Golgotha and are actually the same exact place.
John 19:17 says, "They took Jesus, therefore, and He went out, carrying His own cross, to the place called the Place of a Skull, which in Hebrew is called Golgotha."
John tells us here that Golgotha translates to Place of a Skull so we know it is the same place.
What Happened at Golgotha
What happened at the Golgotha to make it a place to be remembered? The New Testament, specifically the Gospel accounts, shows the reader what happened at Golgotha.
It tells us the story of Christ's death and now knowing where Jesus was crucified and being able to visualize it brings a whole new depth to the event of Christ's death.
Before Jesus Christ's Crucifixion
The Roman soldiers arrested Jesus in a garden outside Jerusalem and immediately took him to the high priest, Caiaphas, and the other chief priests. There, they conducted an illegal nighttime trial, condemning him to death.
Jesus was also brought before Pontius Pilate who attempted to release Jesus multiple times but ultimately bowed to the will of the people and authorized his crucifixion.
From there, they proceeded to mock Jesus, strip him of his garments, beat him, and place a crown of thorns upon his head.
They then led Jesus through the streets of Jerusalem to Golgotha, where he was nailed to a cross and crucified in front of an assembly of people.
Jesus Christ Crucified
At Golgotha Jesus died on the cross to make atonement for humankind's sins, demonstrating his immense love and self-sacrifice. After being beaten by roman guards and mocked by the people, Jesus was brought to Golgotha carrying his own cross.
Timeline of Jesus' Crucifixion
Mark's gospel, tells us, "Now it was the third hour when they crucified Him" (Mark 15:25). Mark's gospel continues to give us a time frame of what was happening and he tells us, "When the sixth hour came, darkness fell over the whole land until the ninth hour. At the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, 'Eloi, Eloi, Lema Sabaktanei?' which is translated, "My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?" (Mark 15:33-34). Mark gives us the time Jesus was crucified when the land became dark, and Jesus' time when he died.
Breakdown of Jesus' Crucifixion
The first piece of time that the reader sees is in Mark 15:25. The third hour was when they crucified Jesus, but when was that? The third hour would be considered as nine am since it would be three hours after sunrise.
In Mark 15:33-34 we are given two new time slots. Mark tells about the sixth hour which would be around noon, darkness fell over the face of the entire land. The sixth hour would be considered the sunniest time of the day. This occurred for three hours until the ninth hour which would be considered three in the afternoon.
The ninth hour is when everything comes to an end. Luke's gospel tells us Jesus' last words before Christ died.
"Jesus called out with a loud voice, 'Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.' When he had said this, he breathed his last" (Luke 23:46). This is the moment when Jesus died.
Matthew's Gospel gives us a breakdown of what happened after Jesus died.
"At that moment (this is when Jesus gave up His spirit) the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook the rocks split and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs after Jesus' resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people" (Matthew 27:51-53).
To sum up, what Matthew is telling the reader after Jesus was crucified is the giant temple curtain tore in half from top to bottom, there was a massive earthquake, and the tombs broke open where the dead saints were raised to life and came out of their tombs to obtain eternal life that Jesus brought for all of humanity.
After Jesus Christ's Death
After Jesus was crucified on the cross and suffered a painful death he was taken by Joseph of Arimathea. The scriptures tell us, "...With Pilate's permission, he (Joseph of Arimathea) came and took the body away" (John 19:38). They wrapped Jesus' body and covered him with about 75 pounds of a mixture of myrrh and aloes and in strips of linen cloth.
"Now in the place where He was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden was a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. Therefore because of the Jewish day of preparation, since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there" (John 19:41-42).
This verse tells us that Jesus was probably buried at or near Golgotha in a nearby tomb that Christians today would call the garden tomb. The garden tomb was cut into the rock and there was a large stone in front of the garden tomb to cover the entrance.
Jesus Christ Resurrected
We are introduced to Jesus resurrected through the story of Mary Magdalene. She was the first person to stumble upon Jesus' empty tomb and bear witness to His glorious resurrection. When Mary Magdalene came to the tomb where Jesus had been buried, she was expecting to find his body. To her surprise, she found the tomb empty and the stone rolled away.
Mary Magdalene was weeping at the tomb where Jesus was buried and two angels appeared to her and said, "And they said to her, 'Woman why are you weeping?' She said to them, 'Because they have taken away my Lord and I do not know where they put Him.' When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and yet she did not know that it was Jesus" (John 20:13-14).
Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene and through her, all the disciples were able to hear the good news that Jesus is alive.
Where did Jesus die? Did Jesus die at Golgotha? Did Jesus die on Mount Calvary or Calvary Hill? According to the four Gospels in the New Testament, Jesus Christ was crucified at Golgotha also known as the Place of a Skull due to the rock formation that resembles a skull.
What is there today is believed to be the Holy Sepulchre Church. You can visit this place in the Old City of Jerusalem positioned in the northwest quarter or Christian quarter.
Golgotha is a special place that hosted a historical moment that not only affected early Christianity but Christians today as well.