In the afternoon we visited the site of the Garden Tomb and Skull Hill. Since 1894, the Garden Tomb, wine press and its surrounding gardens have been maintained as a place of Protestant worship. A local docent did an introduction to the area.
First Skull Hill: The four gospels all say that Jesus was crucified at “the place of the skull” (Matthew 27:33-35, Mark 15:22-24, Luke 23:33, John 19: 17-120) The word skull is “calvary” in Latin and “golgotha” in Hebrew.
Located just outside of Old Jerusalem’s northern wall, near the Damascus gate, is a rocky hill with small natural caves and a wall that resembles a skull. Today, considerable erosion has worn away the hill and the bridge of the nose is gone. The docent showed us photos of what the skull looked like years ago. What was jarring, and somewhat unsettling to us is that the location today is a bus station! What???
Nearby, is The Garden Tomb, a possible location of Jesus’ tomb and resurrection. Some say that archeological studies and the presence of a large cistern and wine press points to the existence of a garden at that time. We were allowed to go inside the tomb, believed by many to be the resting place of Jesus. However some archeologists question whether this is the correct location because typological features suggest the tomb was originally carved out during the 8th–7th centuries B.C. and was not a new tomb as stated in scripture.
We have done quite a bit of research when writing this blog on the sites of Jesus’ crucifixion and tomb. It has been confusing and frustrating at times. Could it be the Church of the Holy Sepulcher? Was it located at Skull Hill and the Garden Tomb? Or neither place?
An excellent article we read when researching is:
I particularly like his conclusion that even though the correct site is not known, each of the sites provide an excellent peaceful, serene location to teach others about Jesus’ sacrifice so that we may have eternal life.
Another interesting article is:
After visiting the Garden Tomb, our guide had reserved a place for us to have Holy Communion with our pastor. It was a solemn, reverent occasion, made even more so by Angie’s acapella singing of, “Were You There? ”
select the image below to play the video
A beautiful end to our time in Jerusalem!
We finished the day at the Church of the Resurrection in Abu Ghosh, Israel a 12th century Crusaders church. The Crusaders associated the place to Emmaus, referred to in the Gospel of Luke. (Luke 24: 13-35) On the road to Emmaus is where resurrected Jesus met two disciples who didn’t recognize him. As they walked down the road, the disciples expressed sadness and hopelessness over the death of Jesus. When Jesus joined them for dinner, took bread, blessed it and gave it to them, they joyfully recognized him as the resurrected Christ. Jesus had a LAST supper before his crucifixion, this was his FIRST supper as our resurrected Lord and Savior.
On our final trip to the hotel, I took some parting shots of the places and people of Jerusalem.
That night after dinner we had a special presentation by Don Piper on his experiences documented in his book “90 Minutes in Heaven”.
We then went back to our room to rest for a couple of hours. Our ride to the airport picked us up at midnight for a 5:00 AM flight. Lots of sitting and waiting followed by more sitting and waiting during our layover in Frankfurt, Germany. We were a little concerned about Frankfurt because of airport worker strikes there. Sure enough, when we landed in Frankfurt we sat on the tarmac waiting for them to bring the jetway out so we could disembark. Finally the captain came on and said no one was available so we would be exiting from the rear of the plane, down the steps and taking a shuttle to the gate. No problem for us but not convenient for those with mobility issues or small children and lots of carry on items. Fortunately the bus was there and we didn’t have to wait for it to show up.
Long trip home, over 24 hours, but it was good to be home.
Next: more exciting overseas travels coming up in May!