June 7 – Trip to the Holy Land – The Garden Tomb

DAY 26 – THE GARDEN TOMB

Theme: The Resurrection of Christ

Read Matthew 28:1-10

A favorite spot for many Christians who visit the Holy Land is the Garden Tomb. Dozens of groups enjoy communion each day in this peaceful setting in the middle of the noisy streets of Jerusalem and next to a bus station.

This beautiful garden provides a wonderful reminder of the resurrection of our Lord.  The location includes a very old tomb, even though it may not be the original tomb of Jesus.

In fact, there are many empty tombs around Jerusalem because grave robbers have stolen the contents of those tombs over the centuries.  Therefore, the greatest argument for the resurrection of Jesus is not an empty tomb, because there are many in this vicinity. The greatest argument for the resurrection of Jesus is that a dead man came out of one of those tombs and appeared to His followers who had seen him die.

Those followers feared Jewish and Roman authorities who might accuse them of being insurrectionists. Nearly all the followers of Jesus deserted Him when He died.  Thomas even said, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe” (John 20:24 – NIV).

It didn’t take long for the Resurrected Christ to meet that challenge. “A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you!’ Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:26-28 -NIV).

It’s almost as if Jesus said to Thomas, “OK, big guy, let me prove that I’m alive. Go ahead and touch my hands and my side.”

But that wasn’t the only appearance of the Lord following his resurrection. 1 Corinthians 15 summarizes those appearances: “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born” 1 Corinthians 15:3-8 NIV.

It’s one thing to die as a martyr for something you believe to be true. It’s an entirely different thing to die for a lie. Those whimpering cowards were transformed into bold proclaimers of the Gospel all because of one thing: They saw a dead man walking! They were accused of “turning the world upside down” with their message because they had seen their crucified Lord alive.

The late Chuck Colson often told about his role in the Watergate scandal of the Nixon administration. As the secrets of Watergate unraveled, the president’s closest advisers tried to deceive the American public about the truth. Even though they were charged with protecting the most powerful man in the world, they couldn’t endure “living a lie” – even for a few weeks.

If the disciples of Jesus had only devised a plan to deceive others about Christ’s apparent resurrection, how long do you think their little scheme would have lasted? How could they have faced martyrdom unless they had been radically changed by the post-resurrection appearance of a Man they saw die? For 2,000 years, their transformed lives have stood as a powerful testimony for the greatest miracle the world has ever witnessed!

Prayer of reflection:  Thank you, Lord Jesus, that you conquered death through your resurrection.  Help me to live in light of the “power of your resurrection.”

Bob Fetterhoff

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