The Garden Tomb | What's The Story Behind This Place?
Jerusalem is a bustling active city of nearly one million residents, yet it features many quiet corners where an openhearted visitor can find solace and be “transported” to a different place and time with a peaceful and simpler state of mind.
It is as if those locations, often just steps away from hubs of hectic and loud activities, provide a supernatural “time travel” opportunity to visit places and seasons that are held in special esteem throughout our bibles.
One such spot is the Garden Tomb.
Held as one of the possible locations of Jesus of Nazareth’s burial and resurrection, this beautiful garden is situated just outside the walled Old City of Jerusalem a few feet from its northern main gate. The site has been the focus of Christian worship and prayer for over 120 years, featuring an ancient Jewish tomb, a garden, and a water cistern.
The story behind this Garden is fascinating and it goes back to a mid-19th Century British Christian delegation that studied the area since, according to scriptures, Jesus was crucified in a place named “the Skull” (Golgotha in Aramaic).
These scholars suggested that the rocky hill just above the garden fits the Roman crucifixion site due to its proximity to the Old City’s main gate and its physical likeness to a skull.
The Scripture says that “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).
Excavations in the site discovered evidence of a well-watered commercial garden and a Second Temple era Jewish burial ground that could have housed the empty tomb of Joseph of Arimathea.
The fact is that whether this is the exact location of the Lord’s burial and resurrection, or merely a replica of the actual biblical site somewhere nearby, this beautifully restored garden perfectly reflects the bible text speaking of a skull-shaped hill, a garden and an empty Jewish tomb.
As such, the Garden Tomb has been drawing Christian worship, prayer, adoration, and reflection for over 120 years, inspiring multitudes of believers to contemplate the Messiah’s perfect life and sacrifice, His suffering, execution, burial, and ultimate resurrection.
Identified as one of the most impactful sites during a Holy Land visit by many of our guests and clients, our SAR-EL groups share a special time of worship, prayer, and communion when visiting the Garden.
For anyone with eyes to see and a heart that believes, a visit to the Garden Tomb is truly a “time travel” experience, going back to a quiet, gloomy afternoon and a small and humble burial party, still shaken from the recent earthquake, carrying the bloodied and tortured body of their beloved Rabbi, teacher, and Lord.
Brushing dangerously close to the start of the Sabbath or the High Holiday when all labor must cease, as soon as the oils and perfumes were applied to the bruised corpse and it was wrapped in a burial cloth, Jesus was placed in the spacious burial cave and the stone was rolled into place to seal its opening.
But it didn’t stay there for long.
What a profound and amazing difference from this moment of grief, loss, and anguish to the scene we find in that same garden 72 hours later; one of spectacular resurrection power, angels’ proclamations, amazed disciples, and a resurrected Lord.
The resurrection of the Son of God was controversial and scandalous back then as it is today. This historic and well-documented resurrection and our consequent faith in the resurrected Messiah remains the ultimate distinction from all other religions on earth, no matter how lovely and positive they might be.
Only Jesus of Nazareth whom the Bible calls Son of David, Son of Abraham and Son of God is worshiped today as God’s perfect sacrifice whom, after laying down His life as a ransom for all humanity, rose from the dead.
He is the only resurrected fountainhead of any of the world’s religions, ideologies and “isms”, and the only One whose tomb is empty!
Rather, He lives and reigns today in millions of hearts and lives across all epochs and continents, and, according to Scripture, HE WILL return to take up His throne in Jerusalem.
Your SAR-EL team will be honored to bring you to this special garden, and much more, during your next visit to the Land of Israel, God’s Promised Land, and the focal point of His miraculous work.
See you here soon.