searching for the
Tomb of Jesus
a greek orthodox Chapel was built over the loca-
tion which held the cross of Jesus on top of gol-
gotha. a man kneels and touches the spot.
a visit to Israel raises questions for those who want to walk
where Jesus did. By Richelle Wiseman
Every Easter, Evangelicals celebrate the resurrection of Christ and focus on the image of an empty tomb. But in Israel, Christ’s tomb isn’t just empty, it’s some- what controversial.
On a recent visit to the Church of the Holy
Sepulchre in Jerusalem, and to the Garden Tomb,
I was struck again by the differences in these two
holy sites which both claim to be where Christ was
crucified, buried and resurrected.
The same questions also struck me on a previous visit in 2008, and now I can no longer leave
them unanswered: Where was Jesus crucified,
buried and resurrected? Why did it feel so important for me (and presumably other evangelical
believers) to experience these sites? What do we
experience when we get there?
Last year there were 3. 5 million visitors to Isra-
el. Many of those visitors were Christians seeking
to “walk where Jesus walked.” (If most itineraries
are as packed as mine in 2008 and 2010, perhaps
we should start using the phrase “to sprint where
Jesus walked.”) The Church of the Holy Sepulchre
and the Garden Tomb are two of the sites in Jeru-
salem on everyone’s schedule.
Church of the Holy sepulchre
Just as Israel is a land of contrasts and conflict,
so too are the holy sites. “Evangelicals prefer the
Garden Tomb, and Catholics prefer the Church
of the Holy Sepulchre,” according to Tzion Ben
David, the guide on my 2010 visit (courtesy of
the Israeli Ministry of Tourism, which sponsored
a trip for evangelical journalists).
Why such different preferences?
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is located
in the heart of the Old City’s Christian quarter. At
the time of Christ the site would’ve been outside