Author: Cayton McDonald
The debate about whether the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem holds the actual tomb where Jesus was buried and then resurrected may finally be over. For the first time in 500 years the tomb has been opened for researchers to analyze for a three day period. Due to the nature of such a pillar of Christianity and the climax of the entire Bible where Jesus arose from the dead, it is no wonder it has taken so long for the heads of the Greek and Armenian Orthodox churches and the Franciscan monks (who share responsibility for the church) to come to the necessary agreement to allow such excavations.
Archaeologist Fredrik T. Hiebert was one of the few who were able to examine the tomb, and he said “There is a ladder by the main entrance to the church that hasn’t moved in 240 years and they still haven’t reached a decision. It’s called the immovable ladder. So the fact we were finally allowed to carry out this work is a triumph of negotiation.” According to their agreement, all members must agree on every single detail of anything that happens within the church, including whether or not to change a candle. To put this in perspective, negotiations to open the tomb for vital repairs began in 1959 and have just now come to fruition.
Fredrik added: “They let the patriarchs of the three churches go in first. They came out with big smiles on their face. Then the monks went in and they were all smiling.”
“We were all getting really curious. Then we went in, looked into the tomb, and saw a lot of rubble. So it wasn’t empty, even though there were no artifacts or bones.” Of course they wouldn’t have found bones, but that should go without saying, but what they found was nothing short of amazing.
There, in the room untouched for half of a millennium under loads of dust that took nearly all three days to remove, was the limestone shelf where Christ’s body is supposed to have been laid. They also discovered a second grey marble slab no one knew was there, it was engraved with a cross that researchers believed to be from the 12th century by none other than the Crusaders themselves.
Frederik could barely contain his excitement exclaiming “The shrine has been destroyed many times by fire, earthquakes, and invasions over the centuries. We didn’t really know if they had built it in exactly the same place every time.”
“But this seems to be visible proof that the spot the pilgrims worship today really is the same tomb the Roman Emperor Constantine found in the 4th century and the Crusaders revered. It’s amazing.
“When we realized what we had found my knees were shaking a little bit.”
Researchers used ground penetrating radar and thermographic scanners to gather as much information as possible in the short time they had. 35 conservation experts took 60 hours to remove the dirt and only discovered the slabs just hours before the required deadline to reseal the tomb again.The data retrieved will take months to analyze and the best discoveries may be yet to come from the virtual reconstruction of the tomb that all will be able to view eventually.
Frederik concluded:“Often in archaeology the eureka moment doesn’t happen in the field. It comes when you get home and examine all the data you’ve collected. Who knows what that will tell us.”
“Without bones or artifacts we’ll never be able to say for sure this was the tomb of Christ.”
“That is a matter of faith. It always has been and it probably always will be.”
It is obvious to every Christian that if they had found bones, this would be positive evidence that this was in fact not the burial place of Jesus Christ, but in the months to come we may find more about what lies inside of this place so many millions of people believe could be the place the body of Jesus was laid before His most incredible of all miracles, His resurrection.