Bible Text: Hebrews 4:15 | Speaker: John Moore | Series: Bible Land Passages, Sermon Archives |
Tonight, we’re going to do part two of the greatest story ever told indeed, as we think about this song from time to time, tell me the story of Jesus
“Tell me the story of Jesus, write on my heart every word, tell me the story most precious, sweetest that ever was heard.” — David T. Clydesdale / Fanny Crosby / John R. Sweney
It’s sweet, as we mentioned last night, because of the fact that this story is real. It took place in a real geographical setting, and in a real historical place. And that sweet story reminds us of God coming to earth, the incarnation inhabiting a human body and living among us.
In fact, the Bible says that God took up His abode among us, came in the form of a human body so that even shepherds in the field and all of those living in Palestine and for generations to come might know that God understands what we feel like in living in the flesh. Or, what He feels like, knowing what we experience, He knows.
“…but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.” — Hebrews 4:15b
It’s a powerful thing to remember that God understands. He came and He lived in this human body and that story of the incarnation of divinity inhabiting human flesh started in Bethlehem. As we spoke about last night, where there were shepherds in the field and where there was truly a setting in a scene that we can go and study about and learn about Jesus being born in a manger. We talked about the burial site of King Herod the Great. And that, the Bible story again, is a part of a historical context and that the things in scripture can be verified by the pages of scripture and that these people that are revealed in scripture can also be confirmed.
See the Sermon Slides: Bible Land Passages: Walking Where Jesus Walked from Passion to Glory
See the Entire Bible Land Passages Series
We spent a little time in Nazareth in the early years of Jesus’s life remembering that his father was a carpenter and that Jesus grew up under humble circumstances. And that, His parents took him to the temple when He was about a babe. And then, later on, the Bible tells us about an event that occurred there when he was 12 years old.
Walking Through the Story of Jesus the Early Years
Bethlehem, The Place of His Birth
Shepherds in the field of Bethlehem
The visit of wise men and the historical record of Herod the Great
The infancy and childhood of Jesus, His humble beginnings
The early visits to the Temple
Tonight, we’re gonna learn about Jesus coming back to this temple and what took place there. Because what was taking place here when Jesus was 12 were sacrifices. And it was a foreshadowing of the ultimate sacrifice of His own body of Himself, for your sins, and for mine.
Walking Through the Story of Jesus’ Preparation and Early Ministry
The years of preparation
John the Baptist
Baptism of Jesus
Temptation of Jesus
Walking Where Jesus Walked from Passion to Glory
And so this kingdom of which He spoke about, we’re going to see Jesus also refers to, tonight, from Cesarea Philippi. And as we visited these scenes that you can visit today and see the size of it and begin to understand the layout of the land and where the various cities were, we talked about the synagogue there at Magdala. And that Jesus preached in every city and in their synagogues, this important message of hope. This message [that is] about the rule and the reign of God in the lives of human beings.
When they lived in a world that was dominated by the kingdoms of men, Jesus spoke about a Spiritual kingdom, of which when we become a Christian today, we can be a part of it. It’s exciting to think about that message that was uttered some 2000 years ago on the side of the sea of Galilee, it continues to resonate in the hearts and lives of people down through history, and even in your very own heart tonight, as you think about what Jesus said on this shoreline about the parable of the sower.
It’s great to see hearts tonight who have received the word of God and are producing fruit. So we encourage you to think about these great messages, to think about the storms that He calmed out on the sea, and the lessons from archeology that remind us of where He went tonight.
Jesus’ Galilean Ministry
As we continue the story, remember that Jesus not only calmed the storms, but He also cast out demons as He calmed that storm, and they found themselves on the Eastern side of the sea Bible tells us about this man possessed by demons. Who had been in the caves, cutting himself, and was a terrible sight to see. People tried to restrain him, but they couldn’t.
Jesus Cures the Demonic – Gadarene slope
And he came and fell down before Jesus, Jesus cast out the demons into a herd of swine and the Bible says they ran down a steep place into the sea and drown. Again, telling us that Jesus had power over not only the natural world, and disease, but over the spiritual world, over the demons that took possession of individual lives.
So, when Jesus in performing His miracles all around the Sea of Galilee and thousands were coming out to Him. [He was] healing, teaching preaching, showing compassion.
Walking Where Jesus Walked, an Affirmation of Faith in the Son of God
He then made his way a little further north to a place that is called Cesarea Philippa.
Matthew records Jesus and the conversation that He had with the twelve. It is when Jesus comes to Cesarea Phillippi, that He makes this affirmation about Himself as revealed through the words of Peter.
Do you know why? Because when you read about Elijah and Elisha and you read about their works, they showed compassion, they raised the dead, they healed the sick, they performed miracles, they proclaim the testimony of the Word of the Lord and gave great hope to a people, Israel, who were living in sin. I’m not surprised for a lot of reasons that they thought that maybe he was Elijah or one of the prophets. But Jesus said to Peter and the twelve who do you say that I am?
And he says, well, you are the Christ the Son of the Living God.
Peter, literally, you’re sort of like a pebble or a small rock, but upon this rock, because Peter’s name means pebble or rock, but upon this rock, not upon Peter, but upon the confession that Peter had made, I will build my church.
Now, if you go back in the literature of the Old Testament and look at the songs, have you ever thought about how many times David referred to God as a rock? It’s another reason why I know that the church isn’t built and was not built on Peter. It was built on Christ because Jesus is the rock because He’s God.
And so upon this rock upon the fact that I’m the son of God, I will build my church, and the bars of Haiti’s or death shall not prevail against it.
The Geographical Location of this Affirmation of Faith
Now, why would Jesus say that? What was going on geographically, historically, that has some bearing on what Jesus said and what Peter affirmed? Well, let’s study it for just a moment.
Because when Jesus came to the region of the coast of Caesarea Philippi, that just another word in the King James that means a region area, a provincial line. And during the time of Christ, Cesarea Philippa was actually a fairly large and sophisticated city. It had once belonged to the Greek Empire. After it had been divided up, there were the there was the Ptolemaic and the Seleucid Empires, and these vestiges of the Greek Empire had controlled many places throughout the Bible lands.
And as they built their cities, what we remember about Greek civilization is that they were steeped in paganism. They had a view about a series of gods that ruled the world that had control of the water of the world or the heavens or of the natural world, or in particular things like trees, and animals.
The History of Cesarea Philippi
Cesarea Philippi – 1st Century AD
Grotto of Pan
And so it was at Cesarea Philippi, they named this city before it became known as Cesarea Philippi, as Panias. Sometimes you’ll see it pronounced as Banias. It got corrupted over time, but it was called after the Greek god, by the name of Pan. A little later on King Agrippa II, the great-grandson of Herod the Great, built a large palace here and also was responsible for building another temple. His Grandfather Herod had built a temple in this city in honor of Augustus Caesar, where worship was taking place.
So when Jesus came to the outskirts of the city we need to remember that it was a fairly sizable city with a lot of Greek influence and culture that permeated the lives of those people.
Cesarea Philippa is built at the base of Mount Hermon. Where the headwaters of the Jordan River occurred. So as the snow from Mount Herman melts and runs off or sinks down or begins to soak down through all of that rock, it comes out in the form of various springs. It’s a beautiful lush place. And you can just imagine why the early settlers would build a city here because of the water. Yet the water here was coming out like a river from under this rock. And so a number of the locals began to think of this as a sacred place, water flowing out from what they thought was the underworld, the place of Sheol. This beautiful place and all of this water there attracted a lot of individuals, including those who worshiped the Greek God called Pan.
Pan, in Greek mythology, was known as the son of Hermes. And the son of Hermes, Pan, was a half-goat half man-god.
Early Greek Worship of Pan, the Greek god
Son of Hermes
Half-goat and half man-god
god over the natural world, the wild, the flocks, the forest.
So early on, several hundred years before the time of Christ, worship began to happen at this location to this goat-man, who was supposedly the son of Hermes, the one to whom they attributed a lot of what was being grown in terms of agriculture and the fruits of that area.
There is even today, the opening at the base of Cesarea Phillippi to what used to be a cave. An earthquake occurred around the ninth century and destroyed a lot of this. But there was an opening there where people believed that was a gateway to the bars of death. And also a place where this goat-man lived.
So a lot of mythology, a lot of thoughts and philosophies, a religious paradigm out of which people live and practice things during that era. They were enslaved to temple worship, of going there and offering their sacrifices and putting their goats in this water. And hence our word panic comes from that Greek mythology of the worship of pan, because the goats would, obviously in that deep water would, we’d go into a frenzy trying to get themselves out of there, but they offered it up as sacrifices.
The Agusta Temple, Built by Herod
So the Augusta temple was built over that area, that opening.
And then later on named Cesarea, after Caesar. It’s hard to believe that King Herod, a Jew, would build a temple for people to worship Augusta Caesar. This was a high place, a sanctuary of religion going on in the world. And people were involved in all these religious practices that enslaved them, that kept them steeped in ignorance.
Affirmation of Faith in the Son of God
And it was to that place that Jesus then would come and utter those words, on this rock I will build my church. What rock? What Peter had said. What did Peter say? Jesus, you are the Son of the Living God. Pan? He doesn’t really exist. In Greek mythology, he’s the son of Hermes. You’re the Son of the living God. And Jesus said you’re right.
And upon this foundation, the fact that I am the God, man, that Deity fully dwells in Me, that He is God, upon the earth, indwelling that human body, upon that fact, I will build my church, My great calling out of people.
And you know what the very bars of death, whether it was referring to the gateway leading to the underworld of death back then, or to the cross itself, it doesn’t matter, nothing was going to get in that way of doing what Jesus came to do to establish his kingdom, to establish his church.
Jesus confronted culture. Now he did so in a good and a kind way. He spoke truth. And anytime Christians, living in any age, were going to find ourselves having to do the same thing, of confronting culture.
He was willing to say and did that. He was the only true God. If we care about our friends, if we care about the world, our message must also be heralded around the world. Of all the religious views that exist there is truly one God, and that one God is like no other. Oh, this God, this God didn’t man demand that people sacrifice themselves, literally. But this God said I’m going to sacrifice myself for you!
Walking with Jesus to Jerusalem, for His Death
He Set His Face Toward Jerusalem
That’s what Jesus says, I must needs go to Jerusalem to say to suffer, to die. That’s why this God-man came to sacrifice himself. For what purpose? To satisfy the justice of God and to declare to the world that God loves us. God as a holy God cannot ignore wrongdoing. He has to punish wrongdoing. If He’s going to be a Just God, how is He going to be Just, and the Justifier of men? How is He going to punish wrongdoing and yet also save the sinner? God said I’ll come and die in your place.
God, the Father
God, the Son
God, the Holy Spirt
A part of the Godhead, the Son would come and offer Himself up as a sacrifice, to declare to the world that God truly is righteous. So Jesus came to die.
And at Cesarea Philippa, He makes that abundantly clear that He has to now head towards Jerusalem.
He steadfastly set his face toward Jerusalem. He left Cesarea, and he’s going to make his way now to the city of Jerusalem and evidently was coming along what was referred to as the Trans-Jordan highway. Because as he comes over to near Jericho. And there He heals, two blind men, as they cry out, son of David have mercy on us.
People were seeking mercy in that day and age, just like we are today. Mercy, not just withholding a punishment, though that’s a part of it. But mercy, as Jesus told the story, as he goes from Jericho on up to Jerusalem along that Jericho road of the good Samaritan. And how that a man going down to Jericho had fallen among thieves and Priests pass by on the other side and the Levite. But along came, the Samaritan got off of this beast that he was riding on his beast of burden, and he went to the man and he bound up his wounds and he anointed him with oil. And then he put him on this animal and he was carried down to a place where he was convalescing.
I love that story because remember what Jesus said? Do you remember what He said to the lawyer who had asked him a question? Who is my neighbor? At the end of the story, He says, who was a neighbor unto the man? And the man said, the lawyer said, He that showed mercy unto him. No wonder those blind people were asking, Lord have mercy on us, because mercy carries with it, kindness, goodness, and ministering to others, especially those who are in a very destitute situation.
Tell Me the Story of Jesus from Passion to Glory
When Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, He was going up to save the destitute.
I got a little bit of news for you tonight. That’s you, that’s me. We were the ones are the ones along the road, beaten and left for dead. And yet, Jesus in his love went up that hill and He ascended to Jerusalem as an act of mercy, as a means of helping those who could not help themselves.
I love the story that we’re telling tonight and the story that we read throughout the pages of God’s word because it is a story of redemption. It is a story of the mercy of God. It is a story about God saying to the world I care about my creation. I care about their suffering. I care about their hardship. He cares about you. He cares about the fact that He wants to spend eternity with you. He wants to be in fellowship with you and even in the here and now.
I’m going to tell you the story of the gospel. It is called the gospel because it is good news. It’s about God’s love. It’s about what God was willing and did do in Jerusalem to save us.
So as Jesus went to Jerusalem, He came up over that hill, the Mount of Olives. It’s the way you come when you come from Jericho. A mountain that I like to call a mountain of tears because a lot happened there in history where a lot of tears were shed. As He came over that mountain, He would’ve crossed over the Kidron Valley. Coming down that Kidron valley on a donkey, a symbol of peace, while everyone was saying Hosanna, Hosanna, save us, we pray.
Now a lot of them were looking for an earthly kingdom and Jesus came to establish His spiritual kingdom, made up of people who are humble and lowly. I love this story of Him descending down from that mountain because others were expecting a great physical kingdom.
But if you read in Luke chapter four, that quotes from the book of Isaiah, about the kingdom of God, it’s what I like to call an upside-down kingdom. The kingdoms of men, who do they elevate? Who do the kings of men say are great? The rich, the good-looking, those who are powerful, the gods. And then everybody else you see as sort of down here on the bottom, and there’s the lowly, the people that can’t seem to fit in society somewhere, and that are kind of the outcasts. But Jesus’ kingdom is sort of upside-down from man’s perspective because those who are great or those who are servants, blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of God.
The message He brought was a message to the lowly, to the people who were struggling, to the people that are the outcast of our world today. He says, I don’t have to be beautiful and handsome, or I don’t have to be athletic, I don’t have to fit this mold of the world that says this is what’s important. I can fit the mold of humility because I recognize my sinfulness and that God can save me.
This is the kingdom that Jesus came to establish. And as they were crying out, as He came down that hill, He wept. Because as He foresaw the destruction of Jerusalem and many of the people that would reject His name, it was in fact greatly disheartening to Him. Just like it is to us today when we see people who reject the message.
Jesus descended that hill and made His way up into the temple complex. I don’t know exactly which gate it was, but prophecies were made about His going up the eastern side. And that’s why Muslims, they knew about that prophecy, that’s why they put those stones inside that gate because they thought if He’s ever going to come, He’s not going to come through that gate. But Jesus already did go through a gate.
The Archaeological Remains of the Temple
The Eastern Gate (Rebuilt) filled with stones
Fallen stones under Robinson’s Arch
The Foundation of the Herodian Complex
Steps in the Limestone Rock Foundation (dating to the Herodian period)
The Triple Gate (Rebuilt), a portion dates to the time of Christ
Walls rebuilt by the Turkish Ottoman Empire were built on top of the foundation stones of the southern area.
Mikvahs for ritualistic cleansing that could be used as baptistries, over 150 were discovered around Jerusalem dating to the 1st century.
There are some 60 of them [mikvahs or baptistries] around the Southern end of a temple complex. It was a process that they went through going down on one side, immersing themselves, coming up on the other side, ritualistically clean. They had roofs over them and probably some sort of doorway in which you could go in privacy down in there and immerse yourself.
By the way, on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2, many people believe that on those steps [of the temple], that’s where the church began. That as the twelve [apostles] or in a house and became filled with the Holy Spirit, cloven tongues set up on each of them. This was noised abroad. And then the multitude came together and they began to preach. Where would preaching and teaching often occur at the temple? Many times at the southern steps, sometimes up in the temple complex on top around Solomon’s porch as recorded in Acts chapter three.
And so when 3000 souls respond to the gospel on that day as recorded in Acts 2, it’s not a problem at all to think about there being plenty of places to immerse people for the remission of sins in the name of Jesus Christ. Yes. We’re looking at the archeological evidence that reminds us and helps us to see that when the Bible tells us about people doing things, folks, you can trust it. It’s accurate. It is reliable. There are all of these mikvahs everywhere.
But then, as you proceed in up to what is truly the temple itself, not just the retaining walls that held it up, ut to the buildings of the temple, it was a huge, huge place. Some 26 NFL-sized football fields could be placed on the platform of this temple area. Herod wanted everybody in the whole world, to marvel at his engineering capabilities. And to somehow endear himself to a people that he sought to rule over. So, this complex was built.
As you begin to explore some of the areas of that complex there was the Royal Stoa, where it is believed that the money changers were located and sold their doves and you came to pay the temple tax. You had to change it into the temple currency because they didn’t want any kind of inscription on it like Caesar’s face to defile the temple inside. And so they would exchange money there. And I think that they sort of spilled over at the Passover into the inner areas of the temple and Jesus drove them out. This complex was so enormous, so big that the historian Josephus of the first century said that if three men tried to get around one of those pillars they could barely touch fingers.
No wonder the apostles as they were with Jesus were so impressed by what they saw. But Jesus, He told them, you see all these stones, you see this building? There will not be one stone left standing upon another. All will be cast down.
The Olivet Discourse
They were a little confused by that. Because this is going to be thrown down? God, you must be thinking about the end of the world, right? They go across to the Mount of Olives and Jesus preaches from the Mount of olives. What we call the Olivet Discourse. They’re able to look back over across the Kidron Valley, to see where the temple once stood, where the Dome of the Rock is now, but where the temple once stood and is now completely gone.
All that remains of the temple, is not the temple itself, but the foundation, the retaining walls. When Herod wanted to build his temple, the mountain, on which he wanted to build it wasn’t big enough, so he expanded the base of it by building these massive retaining walls and then back-filling them. And then building the temple on top of it. Huge stones, elaborate stones that were pushed off of the top and down into the valleys until they couldn’t push anymore.
All that remains now is a portion of the walls, and then stones that were found down below. And when you go today and you look at that little area that’s where a number of Jews gather that’s called the Western Wall, or the Kotel or the Wailing Wall. The other walls, those are from the Crusader period, and the foundation, only about a third of it above the ground, two-thirds of it is below the ground, was there during the time of Christ. The temple sat on top of that. Huge.
So you can imagine, Jesus, what are you talking about? All this stuff coming down? Is there any evidence of that? Yeah. All of this was dug out and has gone down to the first-century street level and you can see those stones that Jesus spoke about that would be thrown down. Jesus foretold, the destruction of the temple. And these massive stones were thrown down, putting huge indentations in the line street below and today stand as a testimony to what Jesus had foretold,
It was the coming of Jesus in judgment. The Bible teaches not only the love and the mercy of God, but it also teaches that Jesus will come in judgment. He came in judgment then, in the destruction of it. In fact, Matthew chapter 24 describes it in just that way, the coming of Christ in that way. But there is a final coming in which Jesus will appear before the entire nations of the world. And we will stand and give an account.
But what’s happening in the meantime? His patience. His long-suffering, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance [2 Peter 3:9].
Walking with Jesus – His Passion
Jerusalem – The Final Days His Death, Burial, and Resurrection
And so, as you think about the message that Jesus proclaimed about judgment, we then get to the apex of the story of the final days of Jesus and His death and His burial and His resurrection. He came to die.
What happened in those final days? Where did it all take place? We’re only going to hit a few of the highlights of the story, but I like to start here after he had instituted the Lord’s supper, and celebrated the Passover.
He comes to Gethsemane. And along here at Gethsemane, there are a number of present-day church buildings that were built to commemorate that event. And of course, there’s a lot of disagreement about exactly where that took place. There is today called the so-called Church of All Nations, and inside that building, there is a large rock where they say that Jesus prayed during the night when he was in anguish. I don’t know if that’s the rock or not. I do tend to think that because of the olive trees that are in that area this area was known for the olive agricultural practices that took place there. And not only were their olive vineyards there but there is a cave not far from those olive trees. And if you go down into that cave today, inside of that cave, there is an ancient olive press. Olive presses existed during the time of Christ. Oh, did I mention to you, do you know what Gethsemane means? The place of the press.
Jesus went to the place of the press, maybe in this cave where there was an olive press. But I think also there because it becomes symbolic of the pressure that He felt. Just like the weight of those stones being placed upon olives, or grapes, to crush out the juice. He knew about the horrible, the horrible circumstances awaiting Him, of the scourging, of the horrific event of the cross itself, where He would have to writhe in anguish and pain. No wonder Jesus cried out in Gethsemane with strong crying and tears.
The Home of Caiaphas
He was taken that night from Gethsemane and He was led to several places. One of which was the home of Caiaphas, the ruling or reigning high priest. And there are some who would say that that particular house that belonged to the high priest was right around an area that could look out over the valley, and over the temple. And a part of why they say that is because they found a nice set of steps from the first century leading up to the remains of an old building, over which another church building has been built, that today is called Gallicantu.
Gallicantu is a Latin word that means, the rooster’s crow. They call it that because they say this is where Peter heard the crowing of the rooster when he denied the Lord three times. Underneath the remains of that building, there are some places of what a few have identified as places of incarceration. I don’t know if that’s where Jesus was taken but when we visit, it certainly brings a lot of tears to people as they think about the mockery that occurred there as He’s interrogated, falsely so, and against all rules of law that were in place at that time. He’s accused there and where all of His disciples leave Him. And the one that follows Him here is Peter and he denies Him.
Jesus Sent to Pontius Pilate
Jesus is then taken from there to the Procurator Pontius Pilate. He’s the Roman ruler of the area. The Jews would like to put Him to death, but they know they can’t do it and live under the means of the Roman law. King Herod had a huge palace built. And when he died, the rulers would often come and stay in this enormous palace. Portions of the foundation of that palace have been found. The tower and its base still exist today.
I think this is where Pontius Pilate would have stayed. The Bible speaks about him being taken to the praetorium. And the praetorium is the place where the highest-ranking official in the Roman area would actually live. Some have suggested that maybe it’s the Antonio fortress over near the temple, others say it is Herod’s palace.
Jesus was brought here, and I think put on trial. Very few people go there today, but it is known by a plaque. It is known as the hidden gate. It was sort of a private entranceway into the palace of King Herod. And there are the remains of a gate and a pavement area. Again, I don’t know for certain that that’s where this occurred, but it’s a likely place, where Jesus was brought before Pilate.
And as he presented Jesus after the scourging saying, behold, the man. The people said still, crucified Him.
The Death of Jesus
So, Jesus was led away outside the city walls, near a gate entrance. And there He was crucified between two thieves suspended between heaven and earth. Dying and agonizing death. That was really death by suffocation.
The Romans wanted to be cruel and to pull long someone’s death as a means to deter maybe others from rebelling against the government. And so, they devised a way based on what the Assyrians had done, of putting a man on a cross. And sort of putting them in a bent position and tying his hands up and driving stakes through them, so that after awhile you can’t exhale your air anymore. The diaphragm muscles become paralyzed and you can’t exhale that air anymore. And so, to relax those muscles, you push up on that nail in order to exhale that air, but then, the pain is so awful and you can’t even imagine all that He was struggling with and He’d relax again, and eventually, He could no longer push up. And a lot of medical doctors believe that His heart became compressed, fluid built up in the pericardium that literally squeezed His heart until it could beat no longer. He died six hours on the cross outside of the walls of Jerusalem.
Despised, rejected by many, but did so as an act of love. Even loving, even loving, the men that started out mocking him and even saving one of them, saying, Today, you shall be with me in Paradise. I don’t know if the man was a Jew or not. If he was a Jew, he was called upon to be baptized under the work of John and Jesus Himself. If he wasn’t a Jew, then he wasn’t under that law and didn’t need to be baptized. And maybe he had been baptized if he was a Jew. And if he was, and then repented, Jesus saved that man. And there is hope for us, even when we approach death if we also will by faith accept the terms pardon.
Oh, what a beautiful story it is to think about what took place there to satisfy both the justice and the mercy of God.
The Burial of Jesus
Jesus was taken down from that cross and put in a tomb.
I think a likely site for it is the so-called church of the Holy Sepulchre is built over an area where there was once a tomb and where other tombs from the first century have been found. And it was also near a gate. Today, it’s inside the city walls, but at the time of Christ, we now know that for certain, this was right outside the city walls. And inside there is a large hill and the remains of a big rock. And there are the remains of some sort of tomb. And underneath that, there are other tombs that you can see.
It was an old quarry dating back to the seventh and eighth centuries. That by the time of Jesus had been filled in and had been made an area where a garden or a vineyard had been planted. And in the walls of that old quarry, there were tombs being dug to bury the dead. It’s a likely site. I don’t know if it is the was or not. But, as I’ve said already, so many people build shrines over these places.
And here is one that is built over what they believe to be the remains of the tomb because it was destroyed under a Muslim conquest. But what is interesting in that building or, behind a particular small building, there are tombs. One has been called the tomb of Joseph of Matthia. Again, we have no way of knowing, but it gives us credible information that says this was a burial place. This is how people were buried in that time, and they were placed there and their bodies would decay, and then they would eventually take them and put them into a bone box known as an ossuary.
That’s one site, the other side that’s more popular today is a site known as Gordon’s Calvary. And you know why it’s called Calvary? Because if you look a little closer, the side of the hill actually looks like a skull. Remember the Bible says that Jesus was crucified at Golgotha, the place of the skull.
So some say, that maybe that is it. And nearby there is a tomb only about 30 yards or 35 yards away. There is a tomb and that tomb is rather compelling. And yet I think that it’s not the tomb because it’s sort of designed like it was during the time of the divided kingdom period. And there’s just a lot of evidence suggesting it’s not, but it’s a great place to visit.
The Resurrection of Jesus
And it’s a reminder that we don’t come to Jerusalem today, people all over the world, don’t go there and bow down before a tomb that has a body. We celebrate a risen Savior. He’s not in the tomb. He overcame death. And though, this is again, not the tomb of Jesus, the stone was rolled away. By the power of God, Jesus was resurrected from the dead. Death, could not hold Him.
I love the story of the resurrection, as Jesus’ body was in the tomb for these three days. And then, on the first day of the week, He was resurrected. He was given a new body, as it were. He came forth from the dead in this resurrected state.
Then as Jesus in His resurrected state went to be with his disciples on various occasions. One of which he came here back to Galilee. And it was a morning period. Remember? The disciples had been out fishing and Peter and the others saw that it was the Lord, and Peter jumped out of the boat and went over and Jesus was cooking fish as they ate their breakfast that morning.
Jesus asked Simon. Peter, do you love me?
Remember the place where he had denied Jesus. Can you imagine being there on that morning and maybe thinking about the lack of faith that you’d had about all the time you’d been with Jesus and then when things got really hard, you not only forsook the Lord, but you cursed? And as you stood there, hearing Jesus say to you, Simon, Peter, do you love me?
Peter’s repentance, and what Jesus said on that day, no doubt resonated in his heart.
The Glory of Jesus
And he remembered what also would take place back there as Jesus came over the mountain to enter into the city to be crucified, He would ascend from heaven from the Mount of Olives as recorded in the book of Acts.
And as he was about to go back to be with God, guess what he said?
“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”
Today, the message that we have told tonight in a summary form is a message of God’s love. It’s a message of God coming to this world and having a human body, taking up his abode among us to suffer among us so that He would be tested and tempted at all points like we are. So that, we could know indeed that God understands and that God loves us. Sometimes people forget that. They forget about the love of God and they think does God really understand? Well God’s never lost a loved one.
Yes. God saw his Son die.
God, do you really understand what it means to be abandoned? I mean, God, you’ve never been married and have been separated from someone abandoned by your husband or your wife.
God was abandoned. And all the disciples ran, and He was left alone. He knew the feelings of abandonment.
God, I don’t know that you’ve ever had cancer.
No, but Jesus felt pain? And He suffered.
I’ve been in the hospital rooms with a lot of people over the years who’ve suffered from cancer. Who suffered from all kinds of maladies and diseases and they were hurting. Their body was writhing in pain.
Jesus’s body was writhing in pain on the cross. He understands and He’s touched by the feeling of our infirmities, Hebrews 4:15.
You see, when I read that those things in the word of God, and I read about this Jesus of Nazareth who lived among people, who performed great miracles and He taught a message of hope and how to get along with our neighbor and how to help our family members and how to be better people in this world and how to prepare us for eternity, it makes sense to me that I’m going to follow this man,
And, if this man who is God, says I want you to be baptized, I’m going to do it. And not only that in doing it, I am in many ways, reenacting what He Himself did. Jesus. When he died, we died the old man of sin. When he was buried in a tomb, completely encompassed about, we’re buried in a tomb of water. And by the same power that brought forth Jesus from the dead, we can be brought forth from the grave of baptism, arising to walk in newness of life. Knowing that we are part of his kingdom, that we were part of his family. It’s His declaration and His stamp saying, I love you, and I want you to know it. God loves you.
Love him. And begin that journey of love and commitment and service to Him by being immersed into Christ, if you haven’t done that, but if you are a Christian and you’ve already experienced this, that is, you’ve already been baptized for the remission of your sins, but maybe you’ve fallen away. God loves you still. And he wants you to come home. So will you?
Can we help you to come to Jesus? Can we help you to be a part of His kingdom? If we can, we invite you to contact us.
— John Moore, Director of Bible Land Passages and Bible Passages.