As a born-again Christian, I’m thankful for the great sacrifice that Jesus Christ made for me at the cross on Calvary. It is because of this sacrifice that I can have a spiritual fellowship with God and hope for everlasting life. Calvary is a place of great significance, and during our last Bible study, we decided to study about his place in-depth. Our study session was opened with the question, “How many times is Calvary mentioned in the Bible?”
For all its popularity and significance in the Bible, I was surprised to find that Calvary is mentioned only once in the Bible. It is the place where Jesus was crucified on the cross, with two criminals on his left and right sides (Luke 23:33). Another name for Calvary is Golgotha, which is mentioned up to three times in the same reference to the place where Jesus Christ was crucified.
In this article, I’ll share with you the meaning of Calvary, what the Bible says about it, and what it signifies in Christianity. Keep reading to learn more.
What is Calvary?
Calvary is a place outside of Old Jerusalem where Jesus was crucified. This place was also called “the place of the Skull,” and the founders of the early church suggest that this was because the hill was shaped like a human skull. Today, some Christians believe that the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem is built upon the original site of Jesus’ crucifixion. Christians remember Calvary as the place where Jesus defeated sin and conquered death, granting us everlasting life and a closer relationship with God.
What does the Bible say about Calvary?
The King James Version Bible uses the name Calvary to refer to the place where Jesus was crucified (Luke 23:33). Two criminals were also crucified here alongside Jesus, each on either side. One of the criminals insulted Jesus and asked him to save himself, but the other criminal defended Jesus and asked him to remember him when he went to heaven. Jesus forgave him for his sins and promised him eternal life in paradise. (Luke 23:39–43).
Therefore, the Bible describes Calvary as the place where Jesus Christ made the ultimate sacrifice to forgive us our sins and reconcile us to God.
Instances where Calvary appears in the Bible
Calvary directly appears once in the Bible, in Luke 23:33. This verse suggests that Calvary is where Jesus Christ was crucified, with two criminals on his left and right sides. Aside from the King James Version, other Bible versions simply refer to Calvary as “the Skull” in relation to the meaning of its Latin variation, “Calvaria.”
Another name for Calvary in the Bible is Golgotha, and it appears in three different books but within the same context (Matthew 27:33; Mark 15:22; John 19:17). In all these verses, Golgotha is where Jesus was crucified, and it also means “the place of the skull.”
What was accomplished at the cross of Calvary?
Pastor Cornelius R. Stam suggests that the death of our Lord Jesus Christ at the cross of Calvary accomplished the following:
We received forgiveness and redemption
In Ephesians 1:7 and Ephesians 2:4–5, the apostle Paul thanks the Lord for granting us forgiveness of sins and redemption through the blood of his son Jesus Christ.
We were reconciled to God
After the fall of man, God withdrew himself spiritually from mankind, and they were unable to have a direct fellowship with him. When Jesus died on the cross, he reconciled us to God through himself (Romans 5:10).
We were freed from the curse of the law
Galatians 3:10–14 suggests that those who rely on the law are bound by a curse, which forbids them from doing anything contrary to what is written in the Book of the Law. Thankfully, Christ’s death on the cross redeemed us from this curse and enabled us to live our lives by faith rather than rules. Colossians 2:13–14 also implies that Christ’s sacrifice at the cross canceled all the laws that condemned us.
What is another name for Calvary in the Bible?
The gospel books of the New Testament suggest that the other name for Calvary is Golgotha. In Matthew 27:33, Mark 15:22, and John 19:17, Jesus was crucified at a place called Golgotha, which means “the place of the skull.” Luke 23:33 refers to this place as Calvary. Theologians believe that the name Calvary comes from its Latin variation, “Calvaria,” which means “skull.” Therefore, another name for Calvary in the Bible is Golgotha.
Miracles of Calvary
Matthew 27:45–53 suggests that at the time of Jesus’ death on the cross, a chain of five miraculous events happened. Theologians have taken these miracles to signify the uniqueness of our Lord Jesus Christ, validate his claims to be the Son of God, and assure Christians of the redemption they will receive by believing in him. The miracles that happened at Calvary include:
Darkness covered the land from noon to three in the afternoon
The first miracle that happened after Jesus was crucified at Calvary was the darkness that suddenly fell over the land for three hours in the middle of the day (Matthew 27:45). Theologians have proposed several symbolic meanings of this miracle, including that it signified the magnitude of Christ’s death and the impending doom that awaits those who don’t believe in him.
The veil of the temple was torn in two
After Jesus said his last words and yielded his spirit to God, the veil of the temple was ripped in two from top to bottom (Matthew 27:51; Mark 15:38). Since the veil was used to represent the barrier between man and God in the Bible, its being torn in two showed that Christ’s death had opened the way for us to be in God’s presence. We can now have fellowship with God through his son, Jesus Christ.
There was an earthquake
As the veil was torn in two, there was also an earthquake which caused the earth to shake and the rocks to split (Matthew 27:51). This miracle demonstrated God’s power over the earth.
The tombs broke open
The Bible suggests that the miraculous shaking of the earth and splitting of rocks led to the tombs breaking open (Matthew 27:52). Theologians suggest that the opening of the graves was preparation for what would follow next, which was the raising of the dead. The opening of the graves also signified Christ’s victory over sin.
The holy people who had died were brought back to life
In Matthew 27:52–53, many of the saints who had died were brought back to life, but they came out of their tombs after Christ’s resurrection. This signified that Christ had conquered death, and he had the power to give everlasting life to those who believed in him (John 3:16).
They say that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, right? Being raised by Christians significantly impacted my life since I started professing Christ from a young age. My passion for the Christian faith made me pursue a degree in Religious studies and a Masters in Theology. I am a believer and pastor dedicated to spreading the word of God. I have been in the Christian ministry for over a decade and am currently ministering in Life Christian Church. I have also been privileged to teach 4 Christian courses in a college and university. Please check the About Us Page for more details.