Good morning ~
My body doesn’t know the time zone yet and I am jet lagged. We had an amazing day yesterday and learned a lot. I am behind in journaling, and to be honest my mind is overflowing with thoughts and emotions which are difficult to compress into a blog entry day by day. I have to pick and choose what to share only because this thing would ramble for days otherwise.
In this place I am most struck by the diversity of people – not just the diversity of people visiting and living here, but the diversity of people who seem to be most intrigued in the story of Jesus, wanting to walk in His steps, see His birthplace, the place of his imprisonment, and the place of His resurrection. He has truly captivated humanity across all cultures and in all times. And He continues to do so. Including little me from eastern North Carolina.
We spent the day in a busy itinerary and to be truthful, my mind is reeling and I cannot yet process everything enough to share here. But I do have some thoughts to leave with you today….
We visited the garden tomb yesterday afternoon and in case you have not read of this or been here, this is the place where the body of Jesus was laid to rest in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea. There has been some controversy about this place as to whether it is the true place His body was laid to rest, but after hearing all of the history I am convinced that this place fits the description of the place described in scripture. Historically the place has confirmed to predate the death of Christ (by a secular organization of antiquities) and its proximity to Golgotha is perfectly aligned with the likelihood that this is the tomb. The shape of the tomb is unusual for the culture during the time of Jesus, but in scripture when Mary Magdalene and Mary went to the tomb to anoint his body with spices, they enter the tomb and “look to the right.” (Mark 16:5). A tomb of this configuration was actually quite rare:
More typical would be a tomb in which the weeping room was directly in front of the smaller entrance to the burial room which would have continued straight from the weeping room…In other words, there would no room to the right or the left.
Why does this matter? When we stood in the weeping room of this tomb, we were struck by the emptiness of it! We took time to pray, and in our prayer we were surrounded by our echoes of prayer…magnifying the empty feeling of the room. There was no death in this place. We in our culture have become so desensitized to the story of the resurrection – growing up hearing it every Easter holiday and in church on Sundays….but to stand in the place where Mary Magdalene and Mary encountered the angel – and imagining what the echoes must have sounded like to them in that small EMPTY tomb, was overwhelming to me. The grave was empty. It is still empty. Jesus arose from the dead. Still have a hard time believing that? His resurrection was witnessed by literally hundreds of people in the following days …. the Bible is not just a story, but is history which is documented and established as such. God’s word for us so that we may believe, and know Him, in a personal relationship.
Visiting this place is a personal visit. Jesus wants us to know Him in the most personal way. He made this land His home so that there would always be a place we could gather to know Him better…to see where he walked and taught and where He suffered. Where He died, where he was buried and where He is no longer.
On an ending note here are a few more pictures from the last couple of days….Enjoy!
1. We visited Masada, the famous empire of Herod built next to the Dead Sea…the story is amazing – read about it here: https://www.deadsea.com/articles-tips/history/story-masada-siege-symbolic-meaning/
2. In front of the steps where Jesus would have been led to imprisonment in the house of the high priest Caiphus … This was on the night he was arrested and taken for “trial” with the High Priest. Mark 14:53)
3. Jesus would have been lowered down into the prison by chains or ropes, and the picture below is of the small opening at the top of the pit. The second picture is of the “sacred pit” where Jesus was imprisoned in the house of the High Priest Caiphus.
“Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgression; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have hone astray ; we have turned – every one – to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” Isaiah 53:4-6