Here in the Land where Jesus walked, Easter is far more than a celebration of bunnies and colorfully dyed eggs.
In the Holy Land, Christians can reflect on the true meaning of the holiday - the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth - in a very particular place and a specific time in history.
But where exactly was Jesus executed by crucifixion? And where was he buried?
For 2,000 years, Christendom has held to the belief that Jerusalem's Church of the Holy Sepulchre is situated at the site of Jesus' crucifixion, his burial and his resurrection from the dead. But as is the case regarding so many issues in Israel, the historical location of the place where the core event of Christianity is believed to have taken place is...well, complicated.
Today, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre sits right in the heart of Jerusalem's Old City. But both the Gospel narrative and Jewish tradition insist that a Jew could only be buried outside the city walls. So can it be that the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is truly the site of Golgotha (where we are told that Jesus was crucified) and the site of his tomb? Scholars debate the issue. What we do understand is that the site of the church venerated by more than a billion Christians was, indeed, located outside Jerusalem's city walls 2,000 years ago. A case can certainly be made regarding the historical validity of this church. I'll get into all the details with you during your tour with me in Jerusalem's Old City.
To further complicate matters, there is a second site in Jerusalem that also commemorates the events of that very first Easter. Protestant and evangelical Christians come to Jerusalem and visit the Garden Tomb. Located just to the north of the Old City and just a short walk from Damascus Gate, we find a rock-cut tomb that was only discovered in the 19th century. In the beautiful garden, Christians worship, celebrate Holy Communion, sing and pray and focus on the very core of their faith. And they can do this in a setting in Jerusalem like no other.
So which is it? Where did the events of that first Good Friday and Easter Sunday actually take place? Come join me on a tour of Jerusalem and decide for yourself.
Wishing all my Christian friends and clients, a very meaningful Easter.