John the Garden Tomb Guide


The Garden Tomb was discovered 150 years ago by the British Major-General Charles George Gordon, who was visiting Horatio Spafford (author of 'It is well with my soul") when he looked out the window at what he thought was Golgotha.The traditional location was The church of the Holy Seculpchre, found by Constantine's mother Helen in the mid fourth century. What drew Gordon's attention was a quarry facing the street that looked like a skull. He decided it was time to reconsider the location of Calvary (which means head in Latin). 
 
Scripture says Golgotha is outside the city near a quarry, a garden, in a public place as a deterrent for the passerby and that Joseph of Arimathea gave Jesus a tomb that had never been used. They investigated and found there was a sistern, third largest in Jerusalem, which could have made this a garden as it says in scripture. They also found a first century wine press, so perhaps this was a vineyard. They found a tomb--two rooms, one for prep and visiting and fits with Mary seeing someone to the right. There is a cross image dated early, which means this became a place of worship. It's located at the crossroads (public place) and now is a bus station!

 
That's the story, but we heard another story from seventy-ish John of Ballymoney, County Antrim, Northern Ireland: his own. He told us about the cross, that Jesus the pure died for us the impure. And he told a bit of his own story with real passion, and how grateful he was for Jesus' death on the cross. He asked us where we were with Jesus and the cross.

It was strange to hear an Irish accent (I told him McClenahan's were from the same county in Northern Ireland in the 18th century) telling us about Jerusalem, about Jesus' death and resurrection. He's not a pastor, he's a semi-retired surgeon serving as a guide at the Garden Tomb for one month.

What a wonderful heart for sharing the good news of the Jesus. What a great witness and guide to show us the evidence of the garden tomb in his own life!
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We arrived home just a short time ago. 20 hours of flying from Tel Aviv to New York, to LAX and then drive home to Solana Beach. It will take a while to get caught up on sleep, and take a while to process all we saw and all we met on this pilgrimage to the land of the Bible.

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