Jesus' Tomb

Jesus' Tomb

Jesus Tomb

Tomb of Jesus

Here is the Biblical tomb of Jesus ("Jesus' tomb"), located 97 meters northwest of Golgotha, where Jesus was crucified. As you can see, Jesus' tomb is hewn out of rock, as the Bible mentions.* The groove at the bottom (see below) allowed a stone to be rolled into place to close the tomb, as the Bible also mentions* (the crumbled facade of the tomb to the right of the entrance was crudely repaired centuries later).

Below is a photo of a plaque displayed outside the entrance to Jesus' tomb. It is a top down view of the tomb. The blurry words are repeated and explained further below:

Jesus Tomb

1  "Entrance to outer room, hewn in rock." - entrance to Jesus' tomb (top photo).
2  "Low threshold to graves." - a step down to the right half of the tomb.
3  "Short low rock walls between the rooms."
4  "Finished loculus (burial place)." - where Jesus' body lay for three days.
5  "Pillow cut in rock." - Instead of dropping off at a right angle, the rocky mass had been smoothed and sloped into a pillow for the head (Jesus' head lay here).
6  "Weeping chamber." - for the mourners.
7  "Rough ledge."
8  "Unfinished loculus." - The rocky mass at the foot of this loculus that had not yet been cut to drop off at a right angle indicates that the tomb was not quite finished and therefore still new when Jesus' body was laid in it. This is a key detail since John 19:41 states that Jesus was laid in "a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid."
9  "Small window." - visible in the top photo, would have been covered when the stone is rolled into place to close the tomb.

Below is the tomb's finished loculus (#4 in the photo above) where Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus laid the body of Jesus. Notice how the rock facade slopes into a "pillow" at the head (left) but drops off at a right angle at the opposite (right) end.

Jesus Tomb

The angle from which Jesus' loculus is viewed above is probably the angle from which Peter and John viewed it when they sought Jesus' body in the tomb 2,000 years ago.** The rock pillow where Jesus' head had lain actually can be touched from the tomb's weeping chamber (#6 above). Being inside Jesus' tomb, even being able to touch where Jesus' head had lain for three days, is an incredible privilege and experience.

Jesus TombMatthew 27:60 says that a "large stone" was rolled "against the door of the tomb."

The large (1.5 liter) water bottle in the groove (right) running along the front facade of Jesus' tomb gives an idea of the size of the stone rolled along it to close the entrance to the tomb and the small window (#9 above).

Could a wounded but still-alive Jesus have escaped from the tomb on His own?

Rolling the stone by pushing it from behind would have been a struggle; rolling it away from inside the tomb with nothing to grip onto, especially by a mortally wounded man, would have been impossible.

Could Jesus' disciples have come and freed Him?

To eliminate that possibility, or more precisely to eliminate the possibility of Jesus' disciples taking His body from the tomb, the chief priests and Pharisees asked Pilate to "seal" Jesus' tomb and post guards, and Pilate granted their requests (Matthew 27:62-66). Even if Jesus' disciples had dared to come to the tomb, they would have been no match for armed Roman soldiers who would have defended the tomb with their lives since the failure to defend the Roman seal would have meant their own execution.

Any speculation of Jesus escaping from the tomb also has to explain how someone whose back had been shredded by Roman flogging, whose wrists and feet had been crushed and punctured, whose shoulders had dislocated while on the cross, whose torso and vital organs had been pierced by a spear strike, and who had been confirmed dead by multiple Roman soldiers - trained killers - returned to life in the first place.

Jesus Tomb

The plaque on the door of Jesus' tomb quotes the angels' words in Luke 24:6 about Jesus' resurrection: "He is not here, for He is risen."

How can we be sure that Jesus rose from the dead?

Despite all that Jesus said and did, if Jesus had died and stayed dead, Christianity wouldn't even have started. Consider things from the perspective of Jesus' disciples. They followed Jesus around for three years and saw amazing miracles. Yet when Jesus was crucified, all but one of them ran off and hid, fearing that they too would be killed.

But just six weeks later, they marched back into Jerusalem and confidently declared to the masses that Jesus, "whom you crucified" (Acts 2:36), "This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses." (Acts 2:32). Something significant happened during those six weeks - something so dramatic in fact, that it confirmed their faith in Jesus being God more than all of His miracles (see Tabgha) that they had witnessed during the previous three years. But what could be more dramatic than seeing Jesus heal the sick, make the blind see, feed thousands, calm the storm and walk on water?

This time, it wasn't what Jesus did, but what He couldn't do: Jesus couldn't stay dead. During those six weeks they had seen and talked with the physically resurrected Jesus, who proved His deity and power over death and even ate in front of them (Luke 24:41-43) to prove that they weren't seeing a ghost.

Consider things also from the perspective of those who heard the disciples' declaration. The last thing they wanted to hear was that Jesus, whose death they had called for (Matthew 27:22-23), is back and that He is their "Lord" (Acts 2:36). If Jesus hadn't risen from the dead, they would have yelled back, "What are you talking about? Jesus is dead and we know where his body is!"

But instead of challenging the disciples, they listened in silence, and then 3,000 of them became believers right then and there (Acts 2:41).


The only possible explanation is that they couldn't deny the truth of what Jesus' disciples had declared: Jesus indeed had risen from the dead and thereby proven His deity.

* Now when evening had come, because it was the Preparation Day, that is, the day before the Sabbath, Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent council member, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, coming and taking courage, went in to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Pilate marveled that He was already dead; and summoning the centurion, he asked him if He had been dead for some time. So when he found out from the centurion, he granted the body to Joseph. Then he bought fine linen, took Him down, and wrapped Him in the linen. And he laid Him in a tomb which had been hewn out of the rock, and rolled a stone against the door of the tomb. (Mark 15:42-47)

** Peter therefore went out, and the other disciple, and were going to the tomb. So they both ran together, and the other disciple outran Peter and came to the tomb first. And he, stooping down and looking in, saw the linen cloths lying there; yet he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; and he saw the linen cloths lying there, and the handkerchief that had been around His head, not lying with the linen cloths, but folded together in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who came to the tomb first, went in also; and he saw and believed. For as yet they did not know the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead. (John 20:1-9)

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