The Garden Tomb


There are two locations considered to be possible sites of Jesus' crucifixion, burial and resurrection. As with many events of the Bible, no one can know with absolute certainty the exact location. The Garden Tomb is believed by many to be the garden and sepulchre of Joseph of Arimathea, and therefore a possible site of the resurrection of Jesus. There is a deep well, which would substantiate a garden flourishing in this location.
The tomb is in the area of an ancient stone quarry. According to tradition, the quarry was used by the Jews as a place of execution by stoning, and the site is linked to Stephen's martyrdom by Christian tradition as well.
In person, you can see what looks like the features of a human skull (eyes, nose and mouth) in the cliff above the quarry. This location is also just outside the city gates and situated along the ancient road to Damascus. The Bible tells us that Christ suffered outside the city gate, at "the place of the skull" (Golgotha in Aramaic, Calvary in Latin). The Romans carried out executions alongside busy roads as a visual deterrent against rebellion. This site would have been at an intersection of trade routes between Jericho and Damascus.
This tomb was unearthed in 1867. Not all agree on the date, but many archaeologists have described it as a Jewish tomb of the first century AD. The archaeological evidence found here indicates that this vineyard's owner was a wealthy man. His tomb was cut out of the solid rock, with a large weeping chamber, and a channel for a rolling stone.
This was such a beautiful and serene place. It's a quiet site reserved for prayer, meditation and worship. There is no charge for visiting and it is run by British Christians. Our guide was very obviously a believer. I enjoyed listening to him. As we walked along a path to and from the tomb, we passed other believers from different parts of the world. This moment touched me deeply and was so unexpected. As we walked past believers from India (walking in the opposite direction), they were singing and praising God. There was such a radiance in their countenance. Their joy was palpable. And as we passed one another, they made eye contact, smiled huge smiles and raised their hands to touch ours in a sort of "high five" manner. I can't even put into words how moving this experience was for me. If I had seen these people outside this setting, I would never have even guessed they were Christians like myself and our group. That in itself made a big impression on me. We make a lot of assumptions in life based on very superficial things we interpret wrongly.
As we passed these joyful believers, touching their hands, raising our hands in praise, and proclaiming back and forth to one another, "He is Risen!" I could not help anticipating Christ's return and heaven. As overwhelming as this moment was in my spiritual life, I knew it wasn't even a fraction of the joy we will share as we gather around the throne of God and The Lamb. There are tears running down my cheeks as I relive this experience at my keyboard. There is not one highlight to this trip, but the Garden Tomb is way up there on my list.
You can just barely make it out in this picture, but our guide is holding a picture that shows the features of the human skull in the cliff.
The Harneys and The Howertons, just outside The Garden Tomb.

We were able to sit in a beautiful setting and worship together just a little distance from the tomb. There was so much singing going on all around us. We sang. Allen preached. Charlie spoke and sang "In the Garden." We prayed. We had communion. And I have our tiny olive wood goblets on a shelf in my kitchen as a keepsake from this very memorable experience. It was an amazing day I will never forget. I am so thankful to have shared this experience with John and some of my church family.

I haven't shared pictures of the alternate location yet. When I do, I think you will understand why I so want to believe that The Garden Tomb is the actual location of Christ's resurrection. I felt the power of His resurrection while visiting this site and it felt so much more like the right place to me. I didn't feel that way at the other site. The other site is very different, both in the way it looks and the way it feels. But ultimately, it really doesn't matter where His resurrection took place. All that matters is that we know our Redeemer lives, and that He will one day return for us, His followers.

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