Right inside the busy city of Jerusalem (just outside the ancient city walls) is where many people believe the crucifixion and burial of Jesus took place. One of the most difficult adjustments I had to make in my thinking was how close in proximity the biblical events occurred. So much happened in one little portion of this world. The death and resurrection of Jesus was such a monumental event, and it was hard to comprehend that it was just down the street from a bus stop, market and office building.
The other preconceived notion that I had to shake was how physically undramatic many locations looked compared to their spiritual relevancy. Though the beauty of Israel was stunning, the jump to the supernatural beauty I experienced when reading the Bible accounts could not be rectified. The weight of the world’s sins were held on a cross in a seemingly inconspicuous location. Cars honked, people walked to school, shoppers carried their goods all while I stood face to face with Golgatha, the site of my Savior’s death for my sins.
It wasn’t big, scary or dramatic. It just happened to look like the face of a skull. Even if it wasn’t the exact spot of the notorious Skull Hill, as my Scottish Christian guide advised, it would still pretty much look the same and be somewhere in the same general area.
The Mountain of Transfiguration, Mount of Beatitudes, Mount of Olives and Temple Mount (possible location of Mount Mariah where Isaac was bound) all looked amazingly average for having such a profound affect on history and the world.
When I think about the crucifixion itself, I realize that the actual process of crucifying people was a very normal circumstance in Jesus’ time. Many people were crucified, and it wasn’t at all romantic or unique. And I think about the location of the crucifixion. It was just outside the city walls (Hebrews 13.12), close to the city itself (John 19.20) and on a well-traveled road for all to see (Matthew 27.39). Crucifixions were a normal daily circumstance in Jesus’ time.
But then I think of our Jesus. He didn’t stand out in His appearance, and He was a simple carpenter (Matthew 13.55). He wasn’t a priest or a prophet ordained by human authority and ranks, yet He was the Savior of the world. And so many people couldn’t see His divinity because their eyes were limited to the natural world, oblivious to the beauty located in the supernatural realm. In fact, many people were offended by Jesus’ striking normality (Mark 6.3).
“He grew up before him like a tender shoot,
and like a root out of dry ground.
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by mankind,
a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.”
– Isaiah 53.2-3 (NIV)
I’m reminded through this experience that I can’t always trust my physical eyes to see the glorious movement of the Holy Spirit. In reality, many of the mundane sacrifices and obediences we take every day are spiritually breathtaking to God, though to us they seem boring, or worse, irrelevant. If we are being obedient to the prompting of the Holy Spirit, it doesn’t matter how insignificant our actions seem to the world. We must trust that God is creating something amazing in our walk of faith that would cause a band of angels to stop and take notice.
The world saw an average man die on a plain cross that stood on a simple hill, and many people totally missed the salvation of God. As Christian, we can look past the humble and the seemingly average into the the awe-inspiring glory of God.
“Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. For we live by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it” (2 Corinthians 5.6-9 NIV).