When Ken and I visited Israel, the Friends of Israel guide took us to a place called Gordon’s Calvary. This is the place many Christians think is the site of the tomb where Christ was buried. Mr. Gordon. an Englishman, who lived in the 1800s is the one who did the research.
First he searched for a place that looked like a skull outside the gates of Jerusalem.He found an outcropping of rock which did/does look like a skull. The top of the rock was known to be used as a place for officials to deliver harsh punishment since it could be seen from quite a distance. One researcher has it marked as the place where later Stephen was stoned.
Mr. Gordon thought if that was the place, he should be able to find a tomb and along with some archeologists, they did find a tomb carved into the rock. Although there was evidence that it had been used. no bodily remains were left behind as there are in most graves. The next thing he looked for was a garden and yes, he found evidence of a garden watering system too.
The guides are quick to tell you that there is no guarantee that this is actually the place where Christ was buried. They don’t know. We don’t know.
In fact, there is another place inside the walls of the city that many feel is the site.
However, this post is not to debate the two locations.
Since many of the tour groups that visit are evangelical, they give the groups opportunity to sit in a quiet garden area and have communion. Because this was just our Friends of Israel group, what was said before communion was biblical and meaningful. Because Ken was a pastor, he was asked to be one of the men who took part.
After spending an hour or so in this quiet, peaceful garden, surrounded by references to Christ’s resurrection, we headed back out to our bus.
One of the men in our group, an older gentleman, (I’ll call him Bob) had been warned about paying attention to where he put his wallet, but he didn’t listen and assured everyone it was under control.
As soon as we headed out the gates, we were surrounded by street kids selling postcards. “Ten for a dolla!” “Ten for a dolla!” The boys cried as they pushed us against one another.
Ken and I made a dash for the bus and that’s when we heard the cry! “Stop! You little thief!” One of the boys had grabbed Bob’s wallet and taken off down the sidewalk. His wife gave an exasperated sigh. Our tour guides shook their heads – this would hold up the schedule. And most people looked at him like “weren’t you told to better protect your wallet?”
Some of the younger people in the group took off after the boy, who fortunately, grabbed the money (quite a bit of money) and tossed the wallet itself into a trash can. so Bob at least got his ID, etc. back.
That entire scene made an impact on me. We had just been inside a beautiful garden, next to an empty tomb, remembering Christ’s death and resurrection through communion … and then five minutes later, we saw a young boy, already consumed by dishonesty steal someone’s wallet. (Well, aren’t we all consumed by sin?)
That boy’s thievery (and our attitude toward Bob because of his carelessness) was exactly why Christ had to die. We are all sinners, saved only by grace.
In one way, I am glad that happened because I clearly remember both scenes … the quiet garden as we praised the Lord for His resurrection and seeing the boy go after Bob’s wallet. Because of the one … we need the other.
Surely He has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed Him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
But He was pierced for our transgressions;
He was crushed for our iniquities;
upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with His wounds we are healed. (Isaiah 53:4-5)