Friday, May 15, 2009


Towards the end of the 19th century British general Charles Gordon caused a dispute among archeologists when he argued that this skull shaped hill was the place of Jesus crucifixion. “They brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means the place of the Skull)” (Mark 15:22). As you can see from the picture the hill does look like a skull. It is in a stone quarry, and there were some ancient tombs that were dug up. The problem is that the scholars tell us that the tombs go all the way back to around BC and they are in an entirely different configuration from those in use in Jesus' time. And, I don't know. I guess you have to rely on the experts.

This is a whole lot more pleasant place to visit than the other proposed site of Jesus death and resurrection (The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is usually crowded with tourists and filled with smells and robes). The Garden Tomb has been developed by the British into a lovely garden spot and the guides greet you in their pleasant English accent that invites you to enjoy the garden, which is exactly what I did. My legs were tired so I sat and meditated on some Scripture passages including, “God made him who had no sin to became sin for us so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor. 5:21)... the great exchange. And one of my favorites: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal. 2:20). One of the things I've discovered here is that people have very strong religious opinions, especially the Muslims. I knew this from my study of Islam, but I have been reminded of how much they like to discuss religious things through a couple of conversations. Unfortunately, without actually having the time to sit down with a Bible or look at extended academic points both conversations ended with “My Koran says....” versus “My Bible says...”

I have also found that the ordinary tourist is very open to spiritual discussions after they get to know you. Maybe it's because they are in Jerusalem and it opens you up your spiritual side. Maybe it's because you can sometimes discuss things for a little while with a total stranger because he won't hold you accountable for what you discover since you will never see him again. Especially, in both cases of a couple of fairly deep spiritual conversations with two guys I will identify as spiritual seekers they were very interested in conversations after I let on that I am studying here as a pastor. One of the guys had several questions about different approaches to understanding Jesus and how that works out in finding a church. The other guy had lots of questions about end times stuff, which isn't really my forte, but of course I know enough about what the Bible says to have a conversation with someone who is trying to figure it out. As I say, I guess when you are in Jerusalem you start thinking about end of the world scenarios, so that's what we talked about. I didn't really want to get into premillenialism and amillenialism with him. I've always liked what one of my professors used to say. He would say that he was a panmillenialist... it will all pan out in the end. Anyway, I tried to direct this guy back to the book of John, and just encouraged him to start reading that first before he tries to figure out how the world will end.

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