VIDEO The Garden Tomb: Where Jesus Rose Again?

Christ_is_risen tomb

On Easter Sunday, millions of Christians around the world will be celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

In Jerusalem, thousands of Christian pilgrims visit what many believe to be the site of that resurrection.

Located near the heart of Jerusalem is a place called The Garden Tomb, what some believe was the Garden of Joseph of Arimathea. Here is where some believe Jesus died, was buried, and then rose from the dead.

The garden is a two acre oasis in the often hectic city of Jerusalem. British Christians bought the garden 125 years ago and formed The Garden Tomb Association. For years, they’ve allowed visitors here free of charge.

“What we do have here in the Garden is a perfect representation of the Biblical accounts at the end of the four Gospels. Everything in those four Gospels matches what we show people here in the Garden,” Richard Meryon, director of The Garden Tomb, said.

Touring the Garden

Today, nearly a quarter of a million visitors pour into The Garden Tomb each year. Guide Steve Bridge took CBN News on a tour visitors get when they come to the garden.

“What we plot out is the basic geography that we have in the Bible,” he explained. “Jesus was crucified outside of the city walls at a place called Golgotha. And in the immediate area to where Jesus was crucified there was a garden that belonged to a rich man by the name of Joseph of Arimathea.”

We came first to the place the Bible calls “Golgotha,” where the book of Matthew says “and when they had come to a place called Golgotha, that is to say, Place of a Skull.”

“What are some of the main questions people ask you when they come here?” we asked Bridge.

“Some of the main questions, certainly from Christian groups would be can we be certain that this is the place where Jesus died and He was raised to life,” Bridge said. “People often ask how come there are two places, here and there is the Holy Sepulcher?”

Weighing the Evidence

The question arises because some believe Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulcher is the actual place of the crucifixion and resurrection, not the Garden Tomb. Constantine’s mother Queen Helena helped build the church in 326 A.D.

The archeological weight supporting the church’s claim is substantial. For example, the Roman emperor Hadrian built a temple on the site in the second century because local Christians venerated the site as the place of Golgotha.

But the evidence for the Garden can be compelling. The gospel of John says, “… at the place where jesus was crucified, there was a garden … ”  (John 19: 38; 41)

If you have a garden, you need lots of water, especially in the dry Middle East. The Garden Tomb contains one of the oldest and largest cisterns in Jerusalem. It’s 2,000 years old and holds about 200,000 gallons of water.

“So the tomb we have here is a typical of a first century Jewish rolling stone tomb. It’s dated at least 2,000 years, possibly older,” Bridge explained to CBN News.

The Empty Tomb

In the Garden, the Bible also says there was a tomb.

“It is carved out of solid rock. It’s a man-made tomb and that’s how the Bible describes the tomb in which the body of Jesus was laid,” Bridge said of the tomb, while we we standing next its entrance.

“This channel that you can see in front of the tomb entrance is where the stone would have sat that would have been rolled to seal the entrance to the tomb. So finally, the most important thing about this tomb itself is that it’s empty.”

We went inside for a look.

“What we’re looking at when we’re looking at this direction is through into the burial chamber itself,” Bridge explained. “And what you have inside the burial chamber are these two areas where a body would be laid, one just down here and one on this side.”

The tomb itself seems to fit the Bible’s description. But whether The Garden Tomb or the Church of the Holy Sepulcher is the site of the resurrection of Jesus, many Christian pilgrims take with them a profound affirmation of their faith

“I’m a Bible teacher in the states. And want to take some of this passion back, that Jesus is who he says he is, that he is the son of God, and he did walk this earth,” Kelcey Gillespie, a Christian who made a pilgrimage here to Jerusalem, told us.

Celebrating the Person

As people celebrate Easter, those at The Garden Tomb stress it’s not the place, it’s the person.

“The Bible writers really weren’t that interested in establishing where Jesus died. We have very little information,” Bridge said. “The Bible writers themselves were much more interested in Jesus Christ himself who he is. Why He died.”

“That’s what we want people to take away, that the tomb is empty. And we as Christians, of all the world’s faiths, serve a living God who’s overcome death, who’s has dealt with the sin in our life,” Meryon said. “And Jesus is the centrality of our Christian faith, is He not?”

“And so here at the Garden that’s what we want people to take away is the living Lord Jesus. The Easter weekend is the weekend that changed the world,” he added. “The weekend that Jesus died and was buried and rose again for me and for you.”


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Holiness or Hardness Toward God?

pray hands
He…wondered that there was no intercessor… —Isaiah 59:16

The reason many of us stop praying and become hard toward God is that we only have an emotional interest in prayer. It sounds good to say that we pray, and we read books on prayer which tell us that prayer is beneficial— that our minds are quieted and our souls are uplifted when we pray. But Isaiah implied in this verse that God is amazed at such thoughts about prayer.

Worship and intercession must go together; one is impossible without the other. Intercession means raising ourselves up to the point of getting the mind of Christ regarding the person for whom we are praying (see Philippians 2:5). Instead of worshiping God, we recite speeches to God about how prayer is supposed to work. Are we worshiping God or disputing Him when we say, “But God, I just don’t see how you are going to do this”? This is a sure sign that we are not worshiping. When we lose sight of God, we become hard and dogmatic. We throw our petitions at His throne and dictate to Him what we want Him to do. We don’t worship God, nor do we seek to conform our minds to the mind of Christ. And if we are hard toward God, we will become hard toward other people.

Are we worshiping God in a way that will raise us up to where we can take hold of Him, having such intimate contact with Him that we know His mind about the ones for whom we pray? Are we living in a holy relationship with God, or have we become hard and dogmatic?

Do you find yourself thinking that there is no one interceding properly? Then be that person yourself. Be a person who worships God and lives in a holy relationship with Him. Get involved in the real work of intercession, remembering that it truly is work— work that demands all your energy, but work which has no hidden pitfalls. Preaching the gospel has its share of pitfalls, but intercessory prayer has none whatsoever.

There is no allowance whatever in the New Testament for the man who says he is saved by grace but who does not produce the graceful goods. Jesus Christ by His Redemption can make our actual life in keeping with our religious profession. Studies in the Sermon on the Mount


Intimacy With Our Heavenly Father

John 1:12-13

From the very beginning, God intended to have an intimate, loving relationship with His children. What evidence do we have that this is His desire?

His Son. One reason that Jesus Christ came to earth is for us to know and relate to God the Father. The Bible tells us that Jesus is His exact representation; His words and works were the same as God’s (John 5:19; John 12:50). Therefore, when we look at the Son, we are seeing the character of our heavenly Father.

Invitation. Through the Scriptures, God invites us to join His family. He took care of all the arrangements; the only thing we have to do is say yes (John 3:16).

Adoption. The closest tie we can have with one another is family. At salvation, we are adopted into the Lord’s family. This relationship with our heavenly Father lasts for an eternity and provides us with support, encouragement, and love.

Friendship. By calling His disciples “friends” (John 15:15), Jesus revealed a new aspect to their relationship, which applied to His future followers as well. Jesus Christ is a forever friend, one who will never desert or turn away from us.

His Presence. From the moment of our salvation, we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit. He is even closer to us than any earthly kin can be.

The heavenly Father invites us to join His family through faith in Jesus Christ. This is our highest calling—to believe in Him and to live for Him all of our days (John 20:31). Once we become God’s children, His Spirit will work in us to make our family resemblance stronger and clearer in thought, word, and deed.

The Transfiguration

“And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart, And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light.” (Matthew 17:1-2)

This remarkable transfiguration of Christ was shown to the three disciples so that they could actually “see [Him] coming in his kingdom” (Matthew 16:28), as He will do someday when He returns to Earth “in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” (Matthew 24:30). This would ever afterward be an unforgettable experience that would strengthen the disciples for their critical future ministry.

James would become the first martyr, but his brother, John, would survive to bear the testimony far and wide for almost 70 more years. “And we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father” (John 1:14). Peter also wrote of the amazing event: “For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount” (2 Peter 1:17-18).

It is therefore very significant that the word “transfigured” (Greek metamorphoo) is also applied to Christian believers in 2 Corinthians 3:18: “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed [read ‘transfigured’] into the same image from glory to glory.” That is, as we behold the glory of Christ in the mirror of the Scriptures, we ourselves are spiritually being metamorphosed into His own image. The marvelous transformation will be completed when He does come again and “change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body” (Philippians 3:21). HMM

God Is There First

I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty. —Revelation 1:8

The unconditioned priority of God in His universe is a truth celebrated both in the Old Testament and in the New. The prophet Habakkuk sang it in ecstatic language, “Art thou not from everlasting, O LORD my God, mine Holy One?” (Habakkuk 1:12). The Apostle John set it forth in careful words deep with meaning,

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word
was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by
him; and without him was not any thing made that was made (John 1:1-3)….

Here we acknowledge (and there is fear and wonder in the thought) the essential unity of God’s nature, the timeless persistence of His changeless being throughout eternity and time…. Begin where we will, God is there first. He is Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending…. If we grope back to the farthest limits of thought where imagination touches the pre-creation void, we shall find God there. In one unified present glance He comprehends all things from everlasting, and the flutter of a seraph’s wing a thousand ages hence is seen by Him now without moving His eyes.

Your timelessness is a truth that is beyond my comprehension, Lord, but it leads me to fall before You in awe. Amen.

Which Cross Do You Carry?

Having made peace through the blood of his cross. (Colossians 1:20)

One of the strange things under the sun is a “crossless” Christianity. The cross of Christendom is a “no-cross,” an ecclesiastical symbol. The cross of our Lord Jesus Christ is a place of death!

Let each one be careful which cross he carries!

Thousands turn away from Jesus Christ because they will not meet His conditions. He watches them as they go, for He loves them, but He will make no concessions.

Admit one soul into the kingdom by compromise and that kingdom is no longer secure. Christ will be Lord, or He will be Judge. Every man must decide whether he will take Him as Lord now, or face Him as Judge then!

“If any man will… let him follow me.” Some will rise and go after Him, but others give no heed to His voice. So the gulf opens between man and man, between those who will and those who will not.

The Man, the kindly Stranger who walked this earth, is His own proof. He will not put Himself again on trial; He will not argue. But the morning of the judgment will confirm what men in the twilight have decided!

Desire to be saved by works?

If any of your desire to be saved by works, remember one sin will spoil your righteousness; one dust of this earth’s dross will spoil the beauty of that perfect righteousness which God requires at your hands. If ye would be saved by works, ye must be as holy as the angels, ye must be as pure and as immaculate as Jesus; for the law requires perfection.

The power to receive is scarcely a power, and yet it is the only power needed for salvation. Come along and take what Christ doth freely give you.

Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and believe intensely.

Our Lord’s Surprise Visits

You also be ready… —Luke 12:40

A Christian worker’s greatest need is a readiness to face Jesus Christ at any and every turn. This is not easy, no matter what our experience has been. This battle is not against sin, difficulties, or circumstances, but against being so absorbed in our service to Jesus Christ that we are not ready to face Jesus Himself at every turn. The greatest need is not facing our beliefs or doctrines, or even facing the question of whether or not we are of any use to Him, but the need is to face Him.

Jesus rarely comes where we expect Him; He appears where we least expect Him, and always in the most illogical situations. The only way a servant can remain true to God is to be ready for the Lord’s surprise visits. This readiness will not be brought about by service, but through intense spiritual reality, expecting Jesus Christ at every turn. This sense of expectation will give our life the attitude of childlike wonder He wants it to have. If we are going to be ready for Jesus Christ, we have to stop being religious. In other words, we must stop using religion as if it were some kind of a lofty lifestyle— we must be spiritually real.

If you are avoiding the call of the religious thinking of today’s world, and instead are “looking unto Jesus” (Hebrews 12:2), setting your heart on what He wants, and thinking His thoughts, you will be considered impractical and a daydreamer. But when He suddenly appears in the work of the heat of the day, you will be the only one who is ready. You should trust no one, and even ignore the finest saint on earth if he blocks your sight of Jesus Christ.

The message of the prophets is that although they have forsaken God, it has not altered God. The Apostle Paul emphasizes the same truth, that God remains God even when we are unfaithful (see 2 Timothy 2:13). Never interpret God as changing with our changes. He never does; there is no variableness in Him. Notes on Ezekiel, 1477 L


The Damage Of Prayerlessness

Colossians 4:2-6

Prayer is a priority for any person who desires to be used mightily by the Lord. Jesus often slipped away to spend quiet moments with His Father. If the Son of God needed prayer time, then we surely can’t live well without it! Yesterday we saw that those who “go it alone” become weary from bearing unnecessary burdens in their lives. There are serious results of carrying that extra weight throughout life.

When a person is drained spiritually, emotionally, or physically, he or she becomes more susceptible to discouragement. Joshua was exhorted to meditate on the Law day and night, because his success was dependent upon following the will of God. (See Josh. 1:8-9.) Keeping the heavenly Father at the center of one’s focus builds confidence. Without spending time in prayer and Bible reading, believers enter a vicious cycle where troubles loom ever larger as man-made solutions fail. Under such conditions, discouragement is unavoidable.

Loss of confidence is soon followed by doubt. A believer immersed in prayer and Scripture reading will find security in God’s power and presence. But someone who questions His faithfulness will seek refuge everywhere except in those disciplines. Eventually, he or she will step out of God’s will while chasing a counterfeit solution. Sadly, the result is often a marred testimony.

Forsaking prayer results in a downward slide. But the direction can be reversed at any time. The corrective steps are simple: Confess your prayerlessness to the heavenly Father, and then make a priority of regular quiet time with the Lord. In those moments of communion, He will make burdens light, offer encouragement, and fill your heart with confidence.