Moriah, Golgotha and the Garden Tomb

Chapter 6. The Resurrection Morning - Part C

By the Resurrection, God declared Jesus to be the Son of God. The empty Tomb means we don't worship a dead God, but a living, resurrected Lord. 2000 years ago, death could not hold Him. He broke the bonds of sin, death and hell, and was raised victoriously from the dead. Also death can't hold those of us who have put our trust in Him. The moment we receive Him and accept His Blood for our forgiveness, He takes us into His Everlasting Arms, puts us into Himself, translating us from darkness to light, from death to life. We now belong to Him. Because He lives, we shall live also!
(2) Loculus Tombs: This type of tomb was less common, as they were reserved for those of wealth and high rank. These had shallow rock-cut burial places (loculi) or sarcophagi or benches cut parallel to the wall of the chamber, often with an arch-shaped top over the recess. So, the body lay parallel to the side of the chamber, where it was fully visible, unlike with a Kokhim Tomb. Rolling Stones are found with the Loculus Tombs, and are hardly ever found with the Kokhim Tombs. 

*Christ’s Tomb clearly belonged to the Loculus Type: 
(1) His Tomb was a rich man's Tomb (Matthew 27:57; Isaiah 53:9). 

(2) It was a Rolling-Stone Tomb.

(3) John, Peter and Mary could fully see the grave clothes laid out, occupying the same position as the body (John 20:5, 11). This would be impossible in a Kokhim Tomb, but is normal for a Loculus Tomb.

(4) The 2 angels were seen sitting at both the head and feet of His Burial Place (John 20:12). Clearly this is absurd for a Kokhim Tomb, which discounts any possibility of it being of this type. The sitting angels tell us it was probably not an ‘Arcosolium’, where the Burial Place was recessed into the wall with an arch above serving as the top of the recess. It would be unlikely an arch would allow sufficient headroom. Moreover, this type of Burial Place are usually found only in the interior chambers of multi-chambered tombs, but where Jesus had lain was clearly and fully visible from outside, so it would have just had a single Burial Chamber in addition to the Weeping Chamber. So the Garden Tomb fits the Biblical description perfectly. (Moreover, the most common Loculus arrangement for Herodian period tombs was the triple (3 sided) arrangement, just as seen in the Garden Tomb). Due to his wealth, Joseph also had a Weeping Chamber.

In Summary, Christ’s Tomb was Loculus Tomb, where the bodies 
were laid out parallel to the wall, in full view of the mourners. There were places to sit at the head and foot of the Burial Place, and plenty of headroom, for grown men to sit there. Moreover, as you entered the Weeping Chamber, the Burial Chamber was on the right, not straight ahead, as was the more common arrangement. 

It is important to establish these points, in order to answer the arguments that Gabriel Barkay has made against the Garden Tomb as being from the First Century. We will deal with this in Appendix 3, but essentially most of his arguments turn to dust in the light of the New Testament description of Christ’s Tomb. Although the Garden Tomb generally fits well as a First Century Tomb, it has certain features that are unusual, and not typical of most first century tombs. Barkay uses these features against it. However, these are the very features possessed by Christ’s new Tomb, as described in the Bible! These are the features outlined above from the Gospel accounts. 

The reason that it was not an entirely typical First Century Tomb can probably be found in the fact that: (1) it was unfinished, (2) it was built by a very rich and powerful man, and (3) it was built in the immediate vicinity of some more ancient 7th century BC tombs, which were probably royal tombs. Therefore, although his Tomb was quite different in style from these older Tombs, it would be natural for the ‘nouveau-rich’ Joseph to have been influenced by these tombs, making his Tomb somewhat compatible with his illustrious neighbours. The advantage of Christ’s Tomb having a number of special features is it should make it easier to identify. So if we find a Tomb with all these features in the right location (and we have!), then it’s a clear sign that we have found the genuine Tomb of Christ!

*Then Jesus Himself appeared to Mary (John 20:13-18).

John 20:13-18: “Then they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.” Now when she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” She, supposing Him to be the GARDENER (the presence of a full-time Gardener confirms this was a rich-man’s Garden), said to Him, “Sir, if You have carried Him away, tell me where You have laid Him, and I will take Him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to Him, “Rabboni!” (which is to say, Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.” Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that He had spoken these things to her.”

Mark 16:9-11: “Now when He rose early on the first day of the week, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom He had cast 7 demons. She went and told those who had been with Him, as they mourned and wept. And when they heard that He was alive and had been seen by her, they did not believe.”

*Soon afterwards, Jesus also appeared to the other women

Matthew 28:9,10: “As they went to tell His disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, “Rejoice!” So they came and held Him by the feet 
and worshipped Him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell My brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see Me.”


*The UNIQUENESS of the GARDEN-TOMB 
Since Jesus was crucified at the Place of the Skull on Mt.Moriah, He had to be buried nearby, and there is only one Tomb in this neighbourhood that perfectly fits the Biblical description - the Garden Tomb. Many tombs have been found in this large, ancient burial area of Jerusalem. But this Tomb is of special interest, for it is the only Tomb in the area that fits the Biblical description in every detail. In fact, out of 300 ancient tombs in and around Jerusalem that have been examined, not one other than the Garden Tomb, satisfies all the Biblical requirements. It certainly is a RICH MAN’S TOMB, with a Rolling Stone, set in a GARDEN. Inside, to the RIGHT of a large Weeping Chamber, was a single Burial Place (Loculus) that was prepared for a body. The other 2 Loculi were unfinished, showing that it was a NEW (unused) TOMB, when this body was placed there. The whole length of the body would be visible to the mourners, and there was room for the angels to sit at both ends. It is remarkable that all the features mentioned in the Bible's account of the Tomb of Jesus can be seen here. The internal appearance of the Garden Tomb does not contradict the Biblical record in any detail. In fact, at this Tomb, the words of the Gospels step out of the New Testament into living colour. Even if you don’t accept it as Christ’s Tomb, you must admit that the real Tomb (wherever it is) must be similarly constructed. In fact, the Garden Tomb is the only possible candidate. It must be Christ’s Empty Tomb, the place where He rose from death!


*THE PERSON. What is important of course, is not so much the Place, but the PERSON behind the Place, and the Person behind this Place is none other than the resurrected LORD JESUS CHRIST! 

What does this mean? The Gospels are an historically accurate account of the Life, Death, Burial and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. These are historical events that actually happened at a specific place and time. He DID die for your sins, and He DID rise from the dead on the 3rd day, and He IS alive forevermore, and He OFFERS you His Gift of Salvation: Forgiveness and Eternal Life! Receive Jesus now into your heart, as your Saviour and Lord (Revelation 3:20)!

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