The Oxford dictionary defines a grave as “the place where someone is buried, often marked by a mound or stone.” We tend to think of graves as morbid, dark and cold. However, to the Christian a grave is just a resting place for our physical body, not our soul. Our grave is full of hope. And that hope is in Jesus. Did you ever wonder what His grave looked like?
While in Israel, my sister and I were able to peer into Jesus’ grave—two of them. There is a controversy over where Jesus was actually buried. On our tour of Jerusalem we walked the Via Dolorosa and visited the 14 Stations of the Cross. We were full of emotion as we pictured Jesus carrying His cross, stumbling, getting up again, and going forward. What an amazing experience to walk in our Saviour’s footsteps!
We reached the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre and as we waited in line to touch the “rock of Calvary,” we looked around and noticed the “shrine” prepared for tourists. A cross depicting Jesus as he hung dying, numerous candles, incense holders and gaudy fixtures were everywhere. A thought entered my mind. “Is this really what Jesus would have wanted?” I don’t think so. However, to be standing on the very spot where Jesus died for my sins was amazing and took my breath away.
The 14th and last Station of the Cross was the site of Jesus’ burial and resurrection. Again, it was full of candles, incense and gaudy fixtures. The same thought as before entered my mind and I have to admit, I was disappointed.
After leaving Old Jerusalem, our guide took us to the Garden Tomb; the site of the second grave. As we entered the garden, I immediately felt a difference. The atmosphere was one of peace and serenity. The birds were singing, flowers blooming—a spectacular site!
The guide led us to the grave and that’s all it was; a simple grave. Not one full of glitz and glamour. Just a room cut out of the rock with an indentation on the floor. This is where Jesus’ body was laid. I said to my sister, “This is more like it. This is where I choose to believe He was buried.” She agreed.
We ended our visit in the garden with an amazing and emotional communion service; one we both will never forget.
Even though my sister and I feel the Garden Tomb is the correct site, the controversy lives on. Many arguments have been and will continue to be held for both spots. But in the end, does it really matter? No, because wherever Jesus’ grave was—it is one of hope because He’s not there!
Luke 23:52-53 (The Message)
“He (Joseph of Arimathea) went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Taking him down, he wrapped him in a linen shroud and placed him in a tomb chiselled into the rock, a tomb never yet used.”
Mark 16:6 (NIV)
“…You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He’s not here.”
“Glitz and glamour” at the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre
First grave site we visited
Grave site at the Garden Tomb