Jesus Tomb

Golgotha Why Was Jesus Crucified?

Jesus Tomb

Jesus Tomb

Jesus' Tomb

This is the tomb of Jesus ("Jesus' tomb"), located about 80 yards to the left and behind Golgotha (when facing Golgotha). As you can see, Jesus' tomb is hewn out of rock as the Bible mentions* (the rock formation to the right of the tomb wraps over the area photographed), and the facade of the tomb had been smoothed to the left of the entrance to allow the stone to be rolled into place to close the tomb, as the Bible also mentions* (the crumbled facade of Jesus' tomb to the right of the entrance was crudely repaired much later).

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

Jesus Tomb

1   Entrance to outer room, hewn in rock.  This is the entrance to Jesus' tomb visible in the top photo.

2   Low threshold to graves.  This is a step down to the right half of the tomb, which is slightly lower than the left half.

3   Short low rock walls.

4   Finished loculus (burial place).  This is 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.

6   Weeping chamber.  The left half of the tomb is a flat area for the mourners to mourn while looking at the body on the other side of the short rock walls ("3" above).

7   Rough ledge.

8   Unfinished loculus.  How do we know it was unfinished? The rocky mass on the right side had not yet been sloped and smoothed into a pillow ("5" above), indicating that the tomb was almost but not quite finished and therefore still new when it was used. This is an important 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.  This window is visible in the top photo and would have been covered when the stone is rolled into place to close the tomb.

Below is the finished loculus ("4" in the photo above) where Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus lay 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 was photographed above is probably the angle from which Peter and John looked at it 2,000 years ago, according to the Bible.** The rock pillow where Jesus' head had lain actually can be reached and touched from the weeping chamber. Being inside Jesus' tomb, let alone being able to touch where Jesus' head had lain for three days, is a special 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 facade of Jesus' tomb gives an idea of the size of the stone rolled along it to close the entrance and the small window (above the area photographed but "9" in the second photo above).

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

While it would have been a struggle to roll the stone by pushing it from behind, it would have been impossible to roll it away from inside the tomb with nothing to grip onto, especially by someone who had been mortally wounded.

Could Jesus' disciples have come and freed Him?

Precisely 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 requested the Roman governor to "seal" Jesus' tomb and to 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 Jesus' tomb with their own lives since the failure to defend the Roman seal would have meant their own execution.

Any speculation of Jesus' escape also needs to explain how someone whose back had been shredded by the Roman flogging, whose wrists and feet had been crushed and punctured, whose shoulders had dislocated while on the cross, whose torso had been punctured 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 Him do amazing miracles. Yet when Jesus was crucified, all but one ran off and hid, fearing that they too may be arrested and 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 must have 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) they had witnessed during the previous three years. But what could be more dramatic than seeing Jesus heal the sick, make the blind see, calm the storm and walk on water?

This time, it wasn't what Jesus did, but what He couldn't do: He 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 above. 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' resurrection weren't true, 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).

Why?

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 proved His deity. See why was Jesus crucified?

* 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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