#64 Q&A with Coach Phil – April 24, 2018 – Jesus’ Tomb is Empty!
Hey First Priority Leaders/COACHES around the GLOBE!
A few weeks ago at Easter time we talked about how central the fact of the death, burial, & resurrection of Jesus is to Christianity…a fact that sets Christianity apart from all other world religions…the fact that JESUS’ TOMB IS EMPTY!!! Well, last week I got to experience that fact first hand, and the tomb is still empty!!! Last Friday, we spent most of the morning at the site of the Garden Tomb, right next to Golgotha (the place of the Skull), just outside Jerusalem, where our Guide explained 14 evidences that prove this site is genuine and accurate for where Jesus was buried…the real deal!!! This is invaluable stuff for those of us that COACH young people in churches and First Priority Clubs!!! So let’s go through some or these “evidences!”
According to Matthew 27:57-59, a rich man named Joseph of Arimathea, who had become a disciple of Jesus, provided his own tomb for Jesus, which he had cut out of the rock. Archeologists have confirmed that the Garden Tomb was cut in the first century AD. This place is practically just a stones-throw away from Golgotha, a.k.a. Skull Hill, a.k.a. Beit-ha-Sekilah, which means the place of stoning & executions. Quintillian, a Roman writer says they always crucified criminals by crowded highways to serve as a warning to as many people as possible, and Golgotha is at the intersection of the two busiest roads near Jerusalem…the roads to Jericho and Damascus! Many scriptures describe the scene of a Garden Tomb near Skull Hill: outside the city wall (Mark 15:20, Hebrews 13:12), near the city (John 20), people passed by insulting Christ on the Cross (Matthew 27:39), at the place called the Skull (Luke 23:33) (in Aramaic = Golgotha, Latin = Calvary, a bald place), by a busy road (Luke 23:35, 48) while friends stood at a distance (Luke 23:49).
Apart from the historical details, there are numerous other geographical evidences that are backed up in the Gospels:
1) The fact that the tomb was located in a garden (John 20).
2) The fact that for gardens to survive in the long, hot summers of Jerusalem, water is essential, and so water cisterns were dug to collect the rain.
There are several near the Garden Tomb. In fact, one of them is the third largest in the entire city!
3) There is also a winepress in the garden, suggesting that it was once a vineyard!
4) The tomb itself:
-1-it is not a cave but is hewn out of solid rock and appears to be unfinished,
-2-it has a groove in front for a rolling stone to close up the entrance (Matthew 27:57-60),
-3-from the outside you can see, as the disciple did, the recess for the body, and
-4-it is large enough for several people to go inside, as the women and the apostle Peter did!
Although Jesus had broken no Roman law, Pontius Pilate succumbed to the Jewish demands for the death penalty to punish Jesus’ blasphemy…His claim to be divine, the Messiah, the Son of God, God (Matthew 9:3, 26:64-65, Mark 2:7, 14:63-64, Luke 5:21, John 10:33-36). Most importantly, Jesus went willingly & deliberately to die on the Cross:
1) to give eternal life to those who believed in Him (John 3:15-16),
2) to give His own life as a ransom for many (Matthew 20:28),
3) to bring mankind to God (1 Peter 3:18),
4) to overcome Satan’s power (John 12:31), and
5) to allow sins to be forgiven (Luke 24:47).
Without Jesus’ death, burial, & resurrection, there would be an impassable barrier between a holy God and sinful mankind. The most important fact of all is that the tomb is empty…that Jesus, in fact, did rise from the dead (Acts 3:32)!!! Therefore, as His followers, we can be sure that a new life awaits us when we die (1 Corinthians 15:20-22)!!!
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