On December 6, 2012, our tour group visited the Garden Tomb in Jerusalem,
which could very well be the tomb in which Jesus was buried.
We had a short wait for our turn to hear from the docent about the details of the Garden Tomb area.
He was very knowledgeable about the Garden Tomb, including the specifics of how the site compares very positively with Biblical descriptions of the place of Jesus' crucifixion, burial and resurrection.
I took the above photo from where we were sitting as we listened to the docent. You can see that it looks like a skull, which is one of the meanings of "Golgotha," mentioned in the Bible. "Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the skull, which in Aramaic is called Golgotha." -John 19:17
This photo, from Wikipedia shows the skull-like face at a better angle.
Right below where we were seated there were two Islamic minarets (above photo). The docent said that Roman crucifixions took place along busy roads, not on top of a hill, so that many people would see them. He said that Jesus was probably crucified down there where the Palestinan bus stop is. That road was and still is a very busy one.
I spotted this rock hyrax living in one of the holes in the limestone face of Golgotha. I was surprised to read that the hyrax is a mammal, related to the elephant!
We followed the sign toward the tomb.
This tomb was obviously made for a wealthy family. It had two small carved-out rooms inside. Also an ancient wine press and cistern have been discovered, evidence that the area had once been a garden. "At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid." - John 19:41
Our docent pointed out a cross carved on the outside of the rock tomb, possibly during the Byzantine empire.
He's making a cross shape with his hands.
The two loculi (burial chambers) are shown above on the right and left sides of this side of the tomb. I snapped this picture with the flash.
This is the burial area taken without a flash.
Just outside the tomb is a pretty planter.
Some of our tour group members inside the tomb in the "weeping chamber" photographing the sign on the outside of the door:
"He is not here for he is risen." - Luke 24:6
Some of our tour group members coming out of the tomb
This is a track carved out of the limestone right in front of the opening to the tomb, along which a large stone (like a millstone) would have been rolled to cover the opening. "They found the stone rolled away from the tomb." - Luke 24:2
We walked a little way in the garden to an area where we could all sit down. Our leader, Pastor Jay McCarl (Calvary Chapel Georgetown), led us in a time of worship, prayer and communion.
The small communion cups were made of olive wood and we each kept the one we drank out of.
Pastor Jay leading us in singing praise and worship songs
I like this sign on a rock in the garden.
After communion, we headed back along the garden path to our bus. Every Biblical site was exciting to see, but I would say that this site was the most touching and meaningful to me. Perhaps it wasn't the actual site of Jesus' crucifixion and burial, but its features and location seem to fit very well with descriptions in the gospels of the crucifixion.
I keep saying this, but I'll say it again: Our Israel tour was awesome. I would rank it right up there with the best tours I've ever been on.