One of the things you learn upon visiting Israel and specifically Jerusalem is that there are conflicting opinions about where things happened.
For instance – the crucifixion and tomb of Jesus.
The most celebrated and popular spot that scholars and archeologists believe to be that location is marked by the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. We visited that earlier in the week and it is a massive church site with a ton of little chapels inside for different churches to worship and celebrate Jesus.
Here is an example of the location inside marking the crucifixion.
There are also sections that mark the tomb and the actual stone that covered the tomb.
We were told by our group leaders that there is another location very near the Old City of Jerusalem that most evangelical Christians have accepted as the spot – called the Garden Tomb.
Today we visited that spot.
We had a wonderful guide, Anne. She lives here in Jerusalem for 2 months at a time to work for this ministry and she lives in London as her permanent home.
Her insight was so very helpful.
Ready to see something you didn’t expect???
(I’m learning that’s pretty normal on this trip)
THIS is the hill where most Christians accept as Golgotha – indicated by a skull marking in the rock.
Why, yes. That is a city bus lot that has been built RIGHT beside it.
Hmmmmm – obviously this isn’t respected as much as the other church.
It was hard to get a good photo from the angle of the observation deck, so Anne showed us a photo from earlier times of this same area.
Can you see the sunken in eyes and the nose in the rock? This is the skull in the rock that was very well known in the Jerusalem area and it would have been outside the city walls – as described in the Bible.
You can still see the skull area when standing directly in front of the rock from the bus lot.
Something super interesting Anne shared with us about the song we’ve all heard, “Oh a hill far away, stood an old rugged cross…”
Well, that really isn’t what would have happened – Jesus being crucified on a hill. The Bible tells us the crucifixion happened near that hill. Anne shared that the Romans crucified people along the street – the major road that went in front of the hill you see there with camels above.
The point was for the people to be humiliated and seen by everyone passing on the road. We even hear that people spat in His face. That would have happened when they walked by on the street.
Something to think about, right?
One reason people accept this location as the spot of the crucifixion is the location of the garden and tomb that are located right next door to this rock.
This garden RIGHT BESIDE the skull rock was owned by Joseph of Arimathea – he’s mentioned in the Bible.
According to John 19:39-40, Joseph and Nicodemus took the body and bound it in linen cloths with the spices that Nicodemus had bought. The disciples then conveyed the prepared corpse to the place previously bought for Joseph’s own tomb, a man-made cave hewn from rock in a garden of his house nearby.
So Joseph is the one that went with Nicodemus to prepare the body of Jesus for burial. He used his own tomb in his own garden – that IS the garden above.
And here is Joseph’s tomb:
This tomb has been certified by whoever does those kinds of certifications to be 2,000 years old.
Also, the channel that the tomb stone was rolled in you see below is certified to be that old.
The stone is not here. Anne said if you have a large stone you’d like to donate, that would be fine. Hahah!
This tomb has two parts – the part on the left for preparation of burial and the part on the right for laying the body:
This was such a powerful place.
The biggest takeaway for me?
IT DOESN’T MATTER WHERE IT WAS – HE’S RISEN!!!
Whether it was at the church up the street or here in this garden, the story is still the same.
Seeing this garden and tomb today helped to see what it would have possibly been like in that day. We know this tomb is 2,000 years old – so it would have at least been similar to what our Jesus was laid in!
There is also an ancient wine press in the garden.
After the Garden Tomb, our group went on a walk called the “Stations of the Cross” – these places could possibly represent the walk Jesus took after being arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane. But, really – who knows?? I just know it all happened SOMEWHERE around here!!
Here is the garden at the bottom of the Mount of Olives where Judas led the soldiers to arrest Him.
They would have led Jesus from the garden up the road to Pontius Pilate where he let the crowd decide what to do with Jesus.
“As soon as it was morning, the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council. They bound Jesus, led him away, and handed him over to Pilate.
Pilate spoke to the crowd: ‘What do you wish me to do with the man you call the king of the Jews?’ They shouted back, ‘Crucify him!’ Pilate said to them, ‘Why, what evil has he done?’ But they shouted all the more, ‘Crucify him!’ So after flogging Jesus, Pilate handed him over to be crucified.” – Mark 15:1, 12-15
You can see the Mount of Olives in the distance above the road here. The Garden of Gethsemane is right at the base of that mountain. The building on the right hand side marks the location of Pilate’s Hall.
The next location is directly across the little stone street from Pilate’s Hall.
There are two churches marking this spot.
The first church marks where Jesus was beaten by the Roman soldiers.
The second church is where He was sentenced to death.
Station 3 commemorates where Jesus fell under the weight of His cross.
Station 4 marks the spot where Mary watched her son go by with the cross.
Can we even begin to imagine what went through the mind of the mother of Jesus as she watched all of these events unfold? There are no words.
Station 5 commemorates Simon of Cyrene who was forced by Roman soldiers to help Jesus carry the cross.
Station 6 marks where a tradition says that Veronica wiped Jesus’ face with her handkerchief.
Station 7 shows where Jesus fell for a second time.
Station 8 would be where Jesus stopped and consoled the lamenting women per Luke 23:27-28.
A large number of people followed Him, including women who mourned and wailed for Him. Jesus turned and said to them, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children.”
Station 9 shows that Jesus fell for a third time under the weight of the cross.
Station 10 is supposedly where Jesus was stripped of his clothes. This is the entrance of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.
The rest of the stations are inside of the church.
Again, this is where most Christians believe it all to be different – showing that Jesus was led to Golgotha.
Remember the bus station, right??
It was an interesting day, walking all the streets of the Old City.
We walked to the Temple Mount area – this is all set up on the location of the 2nd temple that was built and destroyed.
These photos do not do this area justice. It is HUGE! I can’t imagine how big the Temple must have been!
The Dome of the Rock has been built on the Temple Mount – it is a Muslim monument. We weren’t allowed to go inside.
We also had a free afternoon to finish up whatever we wanted to see in the city before we leave.
Here are a few of our favorite highlights.
Arab Fried Chicken anyone?
We tried to find access to a stairwell and in the process stumbled on this beautiful stone area beside the wall.
I loved this 3D stone artwork in one of the local shops.
And the beautiful bold colors of this metal bowl.
The bowl was almost $100. Um no. I didn’t even ask how much the tree stone was….the salesman said something about it all being expensive..hah!
Finally, we ended up at the hotel for dinner. Can I just say I LOVE the food here???
Today was packed full of fun – but now I pack!
That is not fun 🙂
In case you missed it – from the past week on the blog: