Resurrection of Jesus, A Personal Reflection

Resurrection of Jesus, A Personal Reflection

by Rubel Shelly

The Story of a Tomb

On a Thursday afternoon in Jerusalem, I made a tourist trek to the site of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. It is the location venerated from the fourth century as the burial place of Jesus of Nazareth.

I was not prepared for the disappointment that came over me. For one thing, the alleged place of Christ's entombment has been hacked and broken up for souvenirs until nothing substantial remains of the rock-hewn tomb itself. For another, what does remain -- a slab on which the body is said to have rested -- is enshrined and remote from view. A priest shooed us away from the line of clearest sight, and I was left to peep in through a porthole-type window.

Then Joseph Shulam directed the people in our small group to an unadorned, plain tomb no more than 50 yards away. It has all the features described in the biblical record. While it is almost certainly not the setting for Jesus' burial, it gave me a greater sense of contact with the historical event and its meaning.

We had to stoop low to enter it, and the chamber -- hewn out of solid rock -- was dark, oppressive, and stale. The place was likely intended to hold a small family, perhaps as many as five people. Two body receptacles were bored into the rock wall. Each was almost six feet deep.

Since this tomb is not a primary tourist spot and does not get anything like the volume of visitors its neighbor site receives, we lingered there a while. Some of us went inside. And a few of us even decided to wriggle our way into the body receptacles.

What a strange and mystical experience! Was there an end to that dark tunnel? What was inside the shaft that might represent a threat to me? Was this "imitation" of death some sort of mocking inducement of its power?

But there is nothing to fear from death because of what happened with Jesus at some place within a stone's throw of where I was that day. His resurrection has broken the power of death. Christ is the ultimate victor -- not death -- and I stand with him.

I could only mutter, "Thank you, God, that you would not let death hold him!" Then someone began singing, "Up from the grave he arose!" And with the most subdued sense of confidence, we left that dark place, put its threatening presence behind us, and walked away with an invigorated sense of gratitude for Easter.

"He arose! He arose! Hallelujah, Christ arose!"

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