Dodge City was founded in 1872 and quickly became the world’s largest shipping point for Longhorn cattle. It was the wildest of the early frontier towns, but law and order was soon established with the help of men such as Bat Masterson, Wyatt Earp, and Bill Tilghman.
Dodge City’s history began with the establishment of Fort Dodge in 1865. Its purpose was to protect wagon trains on the Santa Fe Trail and to serve as a supply base for troops involved in the Indian Wars to the south.
For the first few years, there was no local law enforcement and the military had no jurisdiction over the town, so lawlessness reigned. Arguments between buffalo hunters, railroad workers, drifters and soldiers quickly led to shootings. This created a need for a local burial ground – Boot Hill Cemetery.
As we prepare to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. He too came to bring order to chaos. Over two thousand years ago, Jesus came to bear our sins upon an old rugged cross. Within three of the gospels (Matthew, Mark, and John), the hill upon which Jesus was crucified is referred to as Golgotha or the Place of the Skull. Luke gives the place another name Calvary. The Greek word for Golgotha and Calvary is “skull.”
The “hill” we call Calvary lies on the northeast side of ancient Jerusalem. It isn’t a large hill, just one that is noticeable. It was a place where onlookers could see those who were put to death for their crimes.
Outside the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus was taken by the Roman soldiers. He was led from trial to trial based on false accusations. As the night went on, the people became all the more angry. When Pilate offered the people choice between a real criminal (Barrabbas) and Jesus, they cried, “We want Barrabas. Crucify Jesus!” Jesus was immediately turned over to the soldiers where they beat Him with the cat of nine tails. They mocked Him and made Him carry a cross down the city streets up to the Place of the Skull.
Jesus chose a hill to die on. Many of us look at Golgotha as a physical hill; however I also think of it as a spiritual hill.
The hill Jesus chose to die on was the “hill of forgiveness.” How many Christians choose to die on the hill of forgiveness? I would say that more Christians choose to die on the hill of unforgiveness than on the hill of forgiveness. The hill of forgiveness is a most difficult hill to die on. It is one where you will have to swallow your pride, where you will have to become humble, where you must lose you selfishness.
Jesus chose the hill of grace to die on. Grace is a free gift for which you have done nothing to earn. When Jesus died upon that old cross, when He defeated death and the grave, grace became a free gift to all.
The hill Jesus chose to die upon was the hill of love. Love hung on that old cross. Jesus’ love for us could be seen as he graciously laid down His life, so that you and I could have everlasting life.
What hill have you chosen to die on? Is it the hill of unforgiveness? Is it the hill of complacency? Is it the hill of immaturity? Is it the hill of stubbornness? Is it the hill of pride? Is it the hill of “I will not change?”
Whether you believe it or not, we all chose our hills. The hill in which we choose to die on may seem to be worth it at first, however if you take a second look, it may not be worth it at all. Whatever hill we do take a stand on; it should be one that lines up with the Word of God. It should not be a hill of personal preferences. It should be a hill of love, forgiveness, and of grace.
Keith Stewart is pastor of Morriston Baptist Church.