In March of 2016 I had the opportunity to travel to Israel and Jordan with a tour group from Lubbock Christian University led by Dr. Jesse Long. Among the many highlights of that tour for me was the opportunity to visit the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem. Within that building is the “Edicule,” a small building built during the crusades over the remains of what was believed to be the cave tomb of Jesus.
About six months after our visit, the Edicule was closed for major repairs and the National Geographic magazine and cable channel was granted permission to video what was uncovered in the center of that small building. A documentary and magazine article are available from them. But in brief, when the flat marble stone (dating from about AD 1100-1300) supposedly covering the “tomb bed” was removed, another much older stone slab dated to about AD 345 was discovered beneath. Then when that slab was shifted to one side, only the original limestone tomb bed was found beneath! And then within a few hours it was all cleaned and repaired, and hidden once again from human eyes.
Historically, this spot has been visited and even revered by Christian believers all the way back to at least AD 100. Who better than those 1st century believers to know where Jesus’ original tomb was located? And everything about that limestone tomb bed inside the Edicule is consistent with what we can know from the New Testament records:
- Located just outside the 1st century walls of Jerusalem
- Only a short distance from the area usually identified as Golgotha where He was crucified
- An unbroken historical record to within one generation of AD 29-30 identifying this as the place
- The physical evidence of a limestone cave once having been at this spot
Just a week or so after my return from Israel, I preached the following sermon at Tanglewood congregation on Easter Sunday 2016. It is entitled, “The Tomb Is Still Empty.” Click on the title to hear the message.
Our image is of the small building (Edicule) built over the spot believed since the 1st century to be the burial place of Jesus.