Now in the place where He was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. John 19:41
In the fall of 2011, Mr. Bruce Wurdeman, LHM's executive director, and I visited Israel and Palestine. Upon our return he asked me to write a series of Lenten devotions which center on the Savior and some of the places we saw. This week's devotions fulfill his request. It is my prayer that the Lord will use them to bless you as well as those who will be traveling with us to the Holy Land in the fall of 2012. In Him, Pastor Ken Klaus
Go to Jerusalem and you will find there are many gardens, but you won't find the garden, which is mentioned in John 19.
Go to Jerusalem and you will find there are many hills, but you won't find the whole hill the Bible calls Calvary.
Go to Jerusalem and you will find many graves and tombs, but you won't find one which contains the body of the Savior.
There is a reason for that.
You won't find the hill and you won't find the garden because the Roman Emperor Hadrian had his builders come in with plans for a temple, a new temple which was to be dedicated to Venus, the goddess of love.
The spot they selected for the temple's construction was Golgotha, the place of Jesus' execution, the place near the garden where He had, at least for three days, been buried. Most certainly the Christians back then would have been scandalized to see a temple celebrating earthly, physical love being deliberately substituted for the love as shown in the blood-bought sacrifice made by the Savior.
No, you won't see the hill, and you won't see the garden, and you won't see a tomb containing the body of Jesus of Nazareth.
There is a reason for that, too.
You won't see it because Jesus' body isn't there. After He had been crucified a guard was placed in front of the grave, and a seal was placed upon the stone.
But neither the guard nor the seal were able to keep Jesus' body where it had been placed.
That's not surprising. If death itself wasn't able to keep the living Lord where He didn't want to stay, a Roman guard and clay seal couldn't do the job either.
Because Jesus has risen from the dead on a Sunday, because the living Lord left the garden and the tomb behind is why today you will participate in the weekly festival where your church will celebrate His resurrection.
Because Jesus has risen, if you ever get to Jerusalem and stand on the spot where Golgotha used to be, you will not find the ruins of a Roman temple dedicated to Venus.
Instead, you will see a grand, old church, and you will see people from all over the world coming to that church. And when they get to that church, all those people from all those races, speaking in thousands of different languages will be united in one goal: they will give praise to the Lord who can defeat death, say no to sin and redirect the plans of Satan for our salvation.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, Heavenly Father, for the defeat of death and devil, for the resurrection of the Redeemer, for the salvation of my soul, I give thanks. May this day be lived in appreciation of all You have done. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries