Jerusalem Pictures Part 2: Golgotha, The Church of the Holy Sepulchre




Welcome back to the Jerusalem tour. I can’t wait to take you to Calvary, also known as Golgotha!

Where did we leave off? Ah yes, walking through Old Jerusalem.

strolling through the Jewish Quarter of Old Jerusalem

outside view of Old Jerusalem. Everywhere you go there’s a mosque (that tall tower where they shout out prayers). This particular one was not in use, but many of them are.

This view is looking out, over the ruins of the old wall from Solomon’s times.

Imagine our surprise, going through the narrow Zion gate, to see a couple of cars driving through it!

It’s all very close together.

In Part 1, we saw the Mount of Olives and entered Old Jerusalem. The first thing we saw there was the Upper Room and David’s Tomb.  Let’s stroll on over to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre now. This church sits on top of the site where Jesus was crucified.

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre

This one church houses the site of the crucifixion, Golgotha (the rock shaped like a skull), the tomb of Jesus, the stone where they washed the body of Jesus, among other relics and stories and art work centered around the crucifixion.

There are also several active church denominations that have their services at The Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

You may wonder how they know this is the place or how accurate this could actually be. Alan and I certainly did.

…And the answer it is that it appears to be surprisingly well backed by archaeological evidence.

How? For one, they began constructing this place in 326 AD.That’s less than 300 years after the fact.

Various other sites have been considered over the years. However, according to my Crossway study Bible info-graphic on page 2066 and 2067, excavations were conducted below the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the 1960s.

Do you know what they found when they dug?

They found “an isolated mass of rock in the middle of an extensive quarry,” as well as rock-cut tombs from the first century, AD. That’s good news.

Where was Jesus crucified? On a rock called Golgotha, meaning place of the skull.

To make it even more interesting, did you know that old Jewish tradition and early historians say that the skull of Adam (as in THE Adam, the first man) is preserved in this hill, indicating that it wasn’t simply a rock that looked like a skull, but also the place where the skull of an important ancestor of mankind is buried. (Crossway Bible, 2001)

Okay, so that last part may be more of a legend, who knows, but I loved that the archaeological evidence DOES indicate that Golgotha is indeed where the Church of the Holy Sepulchre sits.

There is another site outside Jerusalem that claims to be the tomb of Jesus, but archaeological research proved that particular tomb to be too ancient to have been a new tomb at the time of Jesus’s crucifixion.

 

Repairs are needed, but there are so many different groups that use this building that they cannot agree on how to make the repairs, so nothing changes.

See the ladder to the window above the right (sealed off) archway? That’s where the Armenians had to get into the church many years ago. No one needs the ladder now, but these groups cannot even agree on whether or not to move the ladder.

This building, which is centric to all of Christianity, as it marks the site where Jesus died for mankind, is the perfect example of the problem with the Church today.

We should all be one church, not arguing over menial, unimportant details, but instead we are divided. And what happens to a house divided against itself? Well, it cannot stand.

That wasn’t just Abraham Lincoln that said that. He was quoting Jesus. (Mark 3:25)

bells of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre

This is the place!!! This is the site where Jesus died for ALL mankind.

As divided as we are, God can still use us, but how much greater our ministry would be if we were united!! United by Christ!

 

Jerusalem Pictures Part 2: Golgotha, The Church of the Holy Sepulchre

This display marks THE spot where the crucifixion took place. Because the scene (in the photo above) looks drastically different than what it did way back in the first century, A.D., it’s hard to really feel like you are there, even when you are there.

There were people who were falling all over themselves, trying to touch the rock in this spot. But with the crowds, being indoors, and the noise, and so much competing for my eyes’ attention, it was hard to focus.

It is worth visiting. Only know that it’s very tourist-y.

But then, how could it not be? People all over the world have experienced major heart and life changes from the gospel message. God loves you where you are. Jesus died to pay the price for all of our sins. Faith. Hope. Love. We need only believe. Naturally, thousands of people a day are going to visit this place where it happened.

I’m actually surprised there aren’t MORE people there.

I think that’s largely because we have this misconception that it’s not safe in Jerusalem, but I can assure you, I felt perfectly safe.

stairway up to Calvary

steep stairs

See the glass bottom to the left? That is protecting THE spot of the crucifixion.

Alan took the photo above. I actually didn’t even see that there was rock under the glass like that until I saw these pictures.

Look at the bottom, at the people kneeling. They are kneeling over the washing stone, where they washed the body of Jesus.

I did take a moment to rub the stone. The actual stone is under a stone that they put on top of it to preserve it, but still!

 

I always feel like art work tells the story better than anything else.

 

Me, near the washing stone. I don’t know how it happened that everyone else is blurry but me, but it had a neat effect.

inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre

That big cube-like structure with the turret at the top marks the spot of the tomb of Jesus. He is not in the tomb. He is risen.

 

the dome ceiling

One of the most exciting parts—Golgotha!!! This is the actual rock of the skull!!! Many people in early years took chunks home as souvenirs, so now it sits behind glass. I got chills looking at this.

Golgotha, from a distance

So the soldiers took charge of Jesus. 17Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha). 18There they crucified him, and with him two others—one on each side and Jesus in the middle.

19Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It read: JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS             John 19:16-19

In the square, you see splits in the rocks.

The Bible says that when Jesus gave up his spirit, there was a great earthquake. Here you can see damage from that earthquake.

And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.

51At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split 52and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. 53They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people.

 

54When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God!”                           Matthew 27:50-54

 

 

the washing stone

memorial of the tomb

In a chapel off to the side, we found these sculptures. I thought they were a powerful telling of the story.

Today the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is run by Greek Orthodox, Catholics, Armenians, and Ethiopians, perhaps even more denominations than that, but do you know who holds the keys? This man and his family.

The key to Christianity’s most holy site actually belongs to a Muslim family.

They open the doors each morning to let the Christians in. Isn’t this fascinating?

Each year giant candles are lit in honor of the resurrection at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, on Easter Sunday. One year, while the people were gathered to light the candles and celebrate the resurrection, this column, made completely of marble, spontaneously burst into flames, at the bottom here.

So many mixed emotions in the Holy Land.

1.) I am in awe to be standing where Jesus and his disciples, and Mary, and David stood.

2.) I am baffled at our lack of unity.

In the book of John, chapter 17, Jesus prayed:

20“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”

 

Previous Israel Posts in this series:

No, I couldn’t possibly go to Israel next week.

Mount of Olives

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