A Writer’s First Visit to the Holy Land: Golgotha and the Garden Tomb
As, probably for the first time in my life, I celebrate Good Friday and Easter Sunday at home and not in the direct presence of other Christ-Followers, I reflect on the privilege it was to visit Israel and particularly Golgotha and the Garden Tomb only a couple of months ago, a short time before all travel was curtailed and then suspended. Easter is a time when I particularly reflect on the times and locales that were intimately bound together with Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection: the Mount of Olives, Gethsemane, Golgotha, and the Garden Tomb.
We are not 100% sure of the Golgotha (Calvary) site used for Christ’s crucifixion. We know when the Romans crucified someone, they chose a very public place, near a main road or gate, so that it would have maximum impact on passers-by. This location, along with a nearby burial site seem like a likely spot, particularly if one looks at older photographs when the area was less built up and the sun, at the correct angle throws the skull’s eye sockets into shadow.
The Garden Tomb
Near the site of Golgotha one can also find burial sites. These sites have a rock-sealed chamber where the wrapped body is left to decay, so that the bones can be recovered later and stored with those of other family members in a family ossuary. Sometimes there is also a chamber where mourners can wait.
Having visited Israel, I cannot now read the accounts of Jesus’ trial, crucifixion, burial, and resurrection without remembering places we visited.
One cannot get around it. The death and resurrection of Jesus is at the heart of the gospel and the Christian message. One can disbelieve it, but one can’t legitimately explain it away.
At the end of the Garden Tomb visit, our group had a secluded patio to ourselves where we could sing about the resurrection. We sang one of those songs today as part of our internet Easter service. That song brought the garden musical worship experience flooding back.
- With our coronavirus-imposed isolation, how has that affected your celebration of Easter?
- How have you meaningfully connected with friends and family during Easter, a time when many of us would gather at someone’s home for a meal and family time?
I’d love to hear your answers as comments here or on Facebook.