Just one block from the Old City wall and set beside a bustling bus station is the Garden Tomb. Yet despite its central location, this place is serene and tranquil.
Discovered in 1884 by General Charles Gordon, he claimed that this must be the site of Jesus on the cross and the Jesus tomb. Gordon noticed an unusual hillside with a rock formation that looked like a skull. He also discovered a rock-cut empty tomb nearby. From his knowledge of the scripture, he was certain that he had found the Holy Sepulchre and the Hill of Golgotha. In John we read:
"carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha)" (John 19:17)
" At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid" (John 19:41).
According to the bible, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pontius Pilate for the body of Christ. The body was handed over and Joseph carried it to a nearby garden. There he found an empty tomb that had never been used and placed the body of Christ inside.
Christians and Christian pilgrim over centuries have traditionally believed the Church of the Holy Sepulchre was the place where Jesus was crucified and buried. Yet some bible scholars have problems with this location. They reason that an execution should happen outside the city walls in an open area, explaining that it would be more fearful for passersby. One other reason for suggesting an alternate site is that the Jews buried their dead at the far edge of the city and would not want death in their midst.
As revealed in the movie The Lost Tomb of Jesus, there are new theories about the true burial place of Jesus.
However, a visit to the pastoral Garden Tomb with its lovely gardens and quiet walkways is a wonderful opportunity to contemplate the final events in the life of Jesus. Pilgrims and visitors come here to pray and meditate on what Jesus went through and how he came back to life.