The last place we visited is perhaps the most important place in all of Israel. The tomb is in the middle of a vineyard, including a large wine press from the first century AD. The tomb has two rooms, with only one place for a body to be laid. It also has no body niches, small pit or hole for the bones. The other room apparently had several benches, which have since been destroyed. There is a track for the stone is there to see, although the stone that was rolled away is gone.
The Garden Tomb
Inside the Garden Tomb
Early Christians (3rd century) left an inscription on the wall, indicating “alpha and omega.” These early Christians believed this to be the place where Jesus was buried. Of course, the most important of all is that Jesus is not here, for He is risen!
Alpha & Omega Inscription
First Century Wine Press
After we had the opportunity to step in the tomb, we had a time of worship and communion in a small chapel. What a precious time to remember the price Jesus paid for my sins, and then to realize He is risen indeed!
One more very precious experience: there were many other groups visiting the tomb, and frequently groups would start singing to the Lord, some in other languages. It’s a thrill to know that we are all worship the same Lord, and will worship Him together in heaven someday.
The Garden Tomb
Some of you may know that I will be going to Israel on a tour in a few weeks. My sister, who is the organizer of tour, recently wrote this to the group that is going:
I’m sure you will be celebrating Christ’s Resurrection in the next few weeks. We will be too, beginning this weekend, with our granddaughters (4 and 6 yrs old). In our Bruce family tradition, we’ll act out the Easter story again and again, changing who gets to be Jesus, or the angel, or whatever. Sometimes a hole in the bushes doubles as the tomb; last year the tomb was under the piano bench. They have a great imagination, but I’m thrilled that they are learning the Scripture truths so well.
The “Hill of the Skull” just outside the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem has been overtaken by a modern bus stop. While you get the sense that one of our holiest places has been desecrated by smelly buses, in a sense that is appropriate, because Jesus was crucified right on the main thoroughfare, where all travelers could see the spectacle of the Son of God carrying our sin on a rugged cross.
There is a walk-in tomb near Calvary that might have been the tomb of Jesus. If so, it was once sealed tightly shut, but the seal on the door wasn’t strong enough to keep the Son of God inside. After three days he rose again, alive and victorious over death!
That tomb is certainly empty today, and we can visit it. In fact, we plan to celebrate Jesus’ death and resurrection with communion together there.
Blessings, Les & Kathy Bruce