Daily Lent Devotions from Church Street UMC

Sunday, April 4, Morning

By Rev. Dr. Tooms H. Kay, Jr., March 26, 1978

From Death to Life

Read John 19:41-42 (J.B. Phillips)

“In the place where he was crucified, there was a garden containing a new tomb in which nobody had yet been laid. Because it was the preparation day and because the tomb was conveniently near, they laid Jesus in this tomb.”

One of the most moving experiences of a visit to the Holy Land will be found at Gordon’s Calvary and the Garden Tomb. This is a traditional site of the crucifixion and burial of Jesus, and is about three blocks northeast of Herod’s Gate. This place of crucifixion is named for Charles George Gordon, a British general. As he walked atop the wall of Jerusalem, he pointed to a hill and said, “That looks just like Calvary.” What he saw resembled a skull, with two eyes, a crooked nose, and a distorted mouth.

Later excavations conducted at the base of the rocky cliff uncovered a garden in which there was an empty tomb. Could this have been the private garden of Joseph of Arimathea? The tomb was shaped like a bathtub and had been lengthened about a foot to accommodate a larger person. Was not Jesus buried in a tomb not his own? In January of 1977, as a group of us studied that rocky hill, pointing out to each other the form of the skull, we were caught up in the immensity of Christ’s sacrificial love. We sang one verse of “There Is A Green Hill Far Away.”

From that vision which recalled agony and death we walked down a lovely garden path to a limestone wall in which there was an opening. One by one we entered, “stooping down” as did that “other disciple” (John 20:5). Here was the place where Jesus might have been laid. We spoke in quiet whispers. Outside again we stood around our guide, a gentleman with a marked British accent. He reminded us that these were merely traditional sites, and the important thing was to remember that our Lord had risen.

As we departed, I thought, “The place of crucifixion and the place of resurrection are not very far apart. How quickly we may go from death to life!” May that message become real to each of us this Easter Day.

Prayer

O God, we accept the promise of Jesus that “I am the resurrection and the life.” Let our experience confirm the truth of that proclamation, not only at Easter, but every day of our lives. Amen.

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