“He is not here for He is risen”

The holiest site of Christianity

On my very first visit to Israel, I was given advice about spending time in the peaceful garden around the empty Tomb. I did and not only on that visit but on every time when I have been in Jerusalem. Many of those times are filled with memories of friends of Israel who joined our annual tours to make a pilgrimage.

For every pilgrim, it is an emotion-filled moment to enter the Tomb and see the two chambers with rock-hewn benches. On the open entrance door, there is a small plaque stating: “He is not here for He is risen.” During the first century A.D., the Jewish burials were a two-stage process. The first burial site was a tomb, and in twelve months when there were only bones left, the second burial took place by transferring the bones to an ossuary. When Moses and the Hebrews left Egypt, they carried Joseph’s bones with them to be buried in Canaan. Joseph had made the sons of Israel solemnly swear to fulfill his final request about his burial (Exodus 13:19).

Views from the Garden Tomb: the tomb door, the tomb rock facade and reference to Romans 1:4.

The tomb is not the actual one where the Lord was laid; however, this historic fact does not diminish its holiness.

The Lord’s presence is there as He is everywhere where He is worshiped, meditated upon or there is a time dedicated to prayer in His Name. The most memorable way of worship is to serve the Holy Communion in the Garden.

The tomb remains empty. Before ascending to heaven, the resurrected Lord appeared to His followers. In Galilee, He spoke to His disciples and said:

“All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:18─20).

Come to the Garden Tomb. Spend time with the Lord in the holiest site on earth.                                Hannele Pardain