Sabbaths, Feasts, and More
Marking Jewish Themes with Devotion
“At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid” (John 19:41).
There are two significant places in Jerusalem that claim to be the place of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection: The Garden Tomb also called Gordon’s Calvary and Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Both have very convincing proofs and some negative aspects as well so it would be hard to say for sure where our Lord spent the last moments of His Passion.
Of course, God has allowed this on purpose, lest we worship the spot and not the Person. How strange we humans are on that kind of stuff. We just love to get fixed on people, on things.
Personally, I prefer Gordon’s Calvary. It is close to a rocky mountain that sits to the north of Mt. Zion and is high enough from city view that it would make a good place for Roman executions. Also, there is a tranquil peace in the garden below that used to be an ancient vineyard and wine pressing place.
The Garden Tomb will alway be my favorite. Here’s a bit of history about the place.
Unearthed in 1867, the Garden Tomb is a rock-hewn ancient Jewish sepulcher considered by many Christians to be the very place of the crucifixion, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. However, Israeli archaeologist, Gabriel Barkay, dated it to the 8th-7th centuries BC, making it unlikely. Interestingly because of the Jewish practice of building familial tombs over tombs over tombs through the centuries, it’s probability of authenticity rises. Adjacent to the Garden Tomb is a rocky hill that once resembled the face of a skull; this could have been the place called Golgotha or Skull Hill where scripture records His death. The Garden Tomb is surrounded by glorious gardens and is an old vineyard and winepress as mentioned in scripture. Christians have maintained it since 1894. It is a popular Holy Land pilgrimage for tourist.
It is wonderful to sit in the cool next to the tomb and imagine what it was like that first Easter morning when Mary found the stone rolled away and the grave empty. I have enjoyed many quiet, Holy Spirit moments in the precious garden, pressing my ear to the very heart of Yeshua. I have imagined His death and resurrection and the love that was poured out for the world, for me. He has spoken to me there — of my past and future and reminded me that He heals my sickness and emotional wounds because of His bruises, stripes, and blood. He forgives my sin. The world stops, and heaven begins in that place.
I wrote this poem after a trip to the Garden Tomb.
From the Nile’s fertile crescent,
flax flowered to spin royalty a garment.
Colored in red and purple,
Egypt’s fine linen
swathed imperial couches and kingly graves.
In Israel and Phoenicia,
dreamy women pressed textured fabric
to yearning hearts,
and merchants bartered
camels, cinnamon, and shiny stones
for the luxurious textile treasure.
linen wove passion with purpose:
a priest’s perfect garment,
a tabernacle’s curtain,
a crimson veil,
a bride’s prepared gift,
sails, and carpet covers.
Once a king, clothed in pure linen,
even danced with all his might.
Most precious purpose ascended
above the cherubim and seraphim
and bore deeper than old earth’s core
the finely twisted linen
that cradled a dead Jewish king.
Transformed shroud into mantle,
by blazon light,
the royal linen glowed transparent
and wafted fragrant with spikenard.
That linen, stained with blood and folded neatly,
imposed life’s ultimate gift
in a garden tomb, found empty.
© Bonnie Saul Wilks
For more study…
Matthew 20:17-19, John 12:23-25, Isaiah 53
Work it into daily life…
As we approach Resurrection weekend, take the time to contemplate what Messiah’s death, burial, and resurrection means to you. You may not be able to go to Gardens Tomb in Jerusalem, but you can meet with the Master in the cool, private of your own heart. He can speak to you tenderly, heal your emotional wounds and body, and forgive your sins. Don’t let this Easter season pass without a “garden tomb meeting” with your Savior. Eagerly plan it and anticipate with joy. He will not disappoint you. He is in the garden waiting for you. There waits — refreshment, hope, and a new beginning.