Pastor's Blog

My Favorite Place in Jerusalem Posted 4.18.2014

In ten days I’ll board a plane and head to Tel Aviv.  There are fifteen of us heading off on a spiritual pilgrimage to discover the land of the Bible, and how the land impacts faith.  Every day will bring fresh insights into the story God has told, as we explore the geography, which is such an integral part of the text.  I can’t wait for the schawarma and the falafel and I suppose the baklava and ice cream bars could tempt me. But none of that compares to the places we’ll see.  There are so many highlights that it can be overwhelming.  But choosing a favorite does not require too much thought.


My favorite place is not the Via Dolorosa, with its narrow stone streets and cramped sidewalk.  It is not the walls of Jerusalem, though I love to walk on top of them.  It is not the gate up in Megiddo built by Solomon.  My favorite place has been known to be a bit dangerous actually.  It sits in the middle of the hustle and bustle of Jerusalem, just a short walk from the Damascus Gate. I’ve had some travelers lose a wallet to a pickpocket on the street outside this spot.

As you enter, you can hear the cries of the vendors, “20 postcards.  One dollar.”  “Hand-carved olivewood crosses.”  “You’re my first customer.  I’ll make you a special deal!”  I used to think that I would loose any hope of pious reflection as the big city encroached.


But inside it is very different.  Quiet.  Peaceful.  Insulated from the city by walls and a beautiful garden. It is the Garden Tomb complex.  Being Israel, you can’t be sure of its authenticity, but you can discover everything the Gospels record about the events of that last weekend of Jesus’ life to be true.  All of it.


This is my favorite spot in all Jerusalem.  The Via Dolorosa is moving.  Gethsemane allows for reflection.  Gordon’s Calvary is sobering.  But there is nothing like the Garden Tomb, located just steps from Gordon’s Calvary.  Sometimes the Tomb itself is crowded, depending on the season and time of day.  But it is worth the patience required take a look inside for yourself.  Granted, there is nothing inside.  And that’s the point, right?


As you leave, there is a simple sign that hangs on the door.  It reads, “He is not here – for He is risen.”  That says it all.  The tomb is “new,” well at least it has the appearance today of never having been finished.  It is near a garden.  It has some marks of ancient worship outside of it.  There is a trench for a rolling stone.  It meets all the Gospel requirements.  But its authenticity doesn’t really matter.


When I leave, I remember that I don’t worship the grave, I worship the Son of God who rose from the grave.  Places are important because they remind us of the reality of the events that occurred there.  But always remember, our hope rests in a living Savior, not a cold slab of limestone that once served as the temporary resting place for His human body.  He is risen.  He is risen, indeed.

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