From: Francis Harper
He is coming again!
During our first visit to Jerusalem in January of 1990, we met a young man at the Holy Land West Hotel. He introduced himself as Kent Sahlstrom, who was completing some of his residency requirements as a medical doctor at one of the hospitals in Jerusalem. He asked, “Are you people from the Midwest?” When we told him we were from Iowa, he told us he was a graduate of the University of Iowa Medical School. He volunteered to be our tour guide, at no charge! We recognized our meeting with Kent as being more than a coincidence. It was a divine appointment.
One of the many sacred sites we visited was the place of the Lord’s crucifixion and resurrection. Within an estimated 50 x 100 square foot area, about the size of a basketball court, is the place the Apostle John described in these words: “Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden , and in the garden a new [and unused] sepulcher . . . there they laid Jesus” (John 19:41-42).
John’s description fits the site we witnessed perfectly. The garden tomb and the skull-shaped hill are located side by side. The tomb, “hewn out of rock,” is at the left, the place of crucifixion at the right. The place of the skull can be identified by the natural indentations in the rock, which appear like the empty eye sockets of a skull. There was no need to transport the body of Jesus a long distance after it was taken from the cross, “for the sepulcher was nigh at hand” (John 19:42).
I recall asking Biblical Archaeologist Ronald Wyatt if he thought the Garden Tomb was the tomb of Jesus Christ? He quickly answered, “I know it is!” I asked, “How do you know?” He then mentioned several natural and man-made features of the garden, such as the stone mountain from which the tomb was hewn, the 200,000 gallon reservoir and the large wine vat identifying this place as a rich man’s garden.
Matthew described the place and process of burial: “When the evening was come, there came a rich man of Arimathea, named Joseph, who also himself was Jesus’ disciple [and a relative]. He went to Pilate and begged the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be delivered. And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and laid it in his own new tomb [the testimonies of John and Matthew agree], which he had hewn out in the rock, and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulcher (Matthew 27:60-62 IV; 27:57-60 KJV).
As the women walked in the early morning darkness with their spices to anoint the body of their beloved friend, they wondered who would roll away the stone for them, “for it was very great” (Mark 16:1-4). In his digging near the site, Wyatt discovered the great stone. It measured thirteen feet in diameter and nearly two feet in thickness, precisely the size to fit the trough chiseled out of the rock in front of the entrance to the tomb.
The final piece of evidence, which convinced Wyatt [and us] that the Garden Tomb is the actual burial place of Jesus, dealt with the sealing of the tomb. He explained that to the left and a little above the entrance to the sepulcher, he had discovered the end of an iron rod which had been inserted through the great stone door and into the rock of the mountain-side, from which the tomb was hewn.
After nearly 2,000 years, the end of the rod is still there, bearing a silent testimony that “a great earthquake” had sheared the rod, opening the tomb for all the world to see; Jesus “is risen, as he said” (Matthew 28:5 IV; 28:6 KJV). Is there any better news than this? Perhaps not better, but there is more good news. He is coming again!
“. . . we should live soberly, righteously and godly in this present world; looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God, and our Savior Jesus Christ; who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works” (Titus 2:12-14).
My love to all,
The Good News
The good news announced by the angels who appeared to the Bethlehem shepherds was fulfilled at Jerusalem thirty-three years later. The fulfillment occurred appropriately at the time of the Jewish Passover. The Jews had faithfully observed the Feast of Passover, each year in remembrance of “the night of great solemnity” when the destroying angel passed-over the homes of Israel. Moses had been commanded, “Speak ye unto all the congregation of Israel, saying, In the tenth day of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb . . . Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year . . . And ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day . . . and the whole assembly of the congregation shall kill it in the evening. And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door post . . . And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are; and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt” (Exodus 12:3-13).
God has provided us a Lamb. John the Baptist identified the worthy Lamb on two occasions. John, the beloved apostle, wrote: “. . . John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and said; Behold the Lamb of God,
who taketh away the sin of the world! Again, the next day after, John stood, and two of his disciples [Andrew, brother of Simon Peter, and John, brother of James], And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he
said; Behold the Lamb of God!” (John 1:29, 36).
The crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus are the supreme events of all recorded history. The Apostle John was an eye-witness of both. In his account, John very carefully and humbly avoids using his own name. In his description of the details of the crucifixion, he wrote: “And he that saw it bare record, and his record is true; and he knoweth that [which] he saith [is] true, that ye might believe” (John 19:5).
John wrote: “And he bearing his cross went forth into a place . . . which is called in the Hebrew, Golgotha.” He adds, “For the place where Jesus was crucified was nigh to the city” (John 19:17, 20). The Apostle Paul agreed: “Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate” [outside of the city gate] (Hebrews 13:12).
Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians, wrote, “God who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us [made us alive] together with Christ; heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ; if [it] so be that we suffer with him [being willing to sacrifice and shed blood of our own, if necessary], that we may be also glorified together” (Ephesians 2:4-5; Romans 8:17). “For it is by grace we are saved, after all we can do” (2 Nephi 11:44).
John was also an eyewitness of the burial and the place of the Lord’s burial: “Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden a new sepulcher . . . There laid they Jesus . . . for the sepulcher was nigh at hand” (John 19:41-42). The two most important historical events ever recorded, happened in the same place!
By his resurrection, Jesus was “declared the Son of God” (Romans 1:4). And his resurrection is proof of our own. “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:22).
Wherefore, how great the importance to make these things known unto the inhabitants of the earth . . . (2 Nephi 1:73). The good news is, “. . . he is risen, as he said” (Matthew 28:5 IV; 28:6 KJV).