On the final day in Jerusalem, we visited the Garden Tomb, a beautiful site which poignantly contains the presumed tomb of Jesus from which he rose on that Easter morning (Passover time in Roman era) so long ago. He was led to Calvary (Golgotha) to be publicly shamed by the Romans, who loved the spectacle of public executions. After forgiving the world for this most shameful crucifixion, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do,” Jesus’ body was not destined for a proper burial. The story told to us today had such an undertone of importance (besides the glorious story the world has come to know). After Jesus’ death a man named Joseph of Arimathea risked his reputation in his community and his life by directly asking Pilate if he could take Jesus’ body for a proper burial. Joseph was a follower of Jesus, a Jew and an important man, who owned a garden and a large newly excavated tomb, which was for his own family. Saving Jesus’ body from a possible humiliating pauper’s grave, it is believed that Joseph put him in his family tomb from where Jesus rose from the dead to give eternity to Christians. The underlying significance to this for me is the quiet story and the quiet act of faith which had eternal results. Because of Joseph’s action, the Biblical prophecy in Isaiah was fulfilled, “He was assigned a grave with the wicked and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth.” Isaiah 53:9. Mary Magdalene was the 1st to recognize the risen Christ and went to share the news with his disciples that 1st Easter.
We celebrated communion together in this meaningful place with all 5 of the pastors in the group participating. It was a beautiful service which was actually preceded by the wedding renewal of Channing and Martha who were married in a small ceremony in Indianapolis but wanted the memory of a wedding in Israel with all of us in attendance. So this is good by to Jerusalem after a spiritual, life experience and new friendship -filled pilgrimage we will never forget and which will live in our hearts forever.