North of the Damascus Gate, near the fast-paced center of Jerusalem, lies a garden oasis–believed by many to be where Jesus was buried and rose from the dead.
For over a century, the site of the Garden Tomb has drawn the faithful and the curious to this two acre plot. Today, the site boasts nearly a quarter of a million visitors each year. The Garden Tomb affords a tranquil place for worship, prayer and reflection, as well as an unfinished tomb that matches the biblical description. However, any claims to its authenticity as the site where Jesus was buried and resurrected remain uncertain.
The tomb was discovered by General Charles Gordon, who, while on a visit to Jerusalem in 1883, believed he located Golgotha (or The Place of the Skull), the site where Jesus was crucified. Gordon immediately associated the limestone cliff with a previously discovered tomb nearby, making the claim these were the actual sites of Jesus’ crucifixion and burial. For years, the location bore the name “Gordon’s Calvary”.
Offered as an alternative site to the famed Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the Garden Tomb preserves the look and feel of what the tomb and garden may have been like 2000 years ago. The Gospels are largely silent about the exact location of Golgotha and the tomb, but they do describe that Jesus was crucified outside the city of Jerusalem, near an oft-traveled road, and that He was buried in a new tomb in a nearby garden.
Opinions remain divided about the actual location of Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection. However, the Bible writers demonstrated more interest in the reality of the resurrection of Jesus than in the place where it occurred. This experience is best summed up by the message carved on the wooden door of the Garden Tomb, “He is not here for He is risen!” The Garden Tomb affords visitors a place to celebrate the resurrection of the One who changed the world.