Many people will celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus the Messiah on Easter Sunday, March 27, although Jesus rose from the dead on First Fruits after the beginning of Passover. Passover this year begins Friday, April 22. There’s almost a month between Easter and Passover in 2016. Why is that?
I went to Israel several weeks ago, and seeing the land where Jesus (Yeshua) walked, taught, and performed miracles put a face on the stories I read in the Bible. For one thing, the topography is not what I expected. I imagined the land would be relatively flat with a hill or a mountain here and there. I was not expecting hills and mountains everywhere, and Jerusalem was no exception. Jesus was crucified, buried, and raised from the dead in Jerusalem.
More than one spot has been identified as the Garden Tomb, but I went to the one that is near what-is-believed-to-be Golgotha. The hill that we call Golgotha does indeed look like a skull although time and erosion have distorted its appearance. Near Golgotha is the Garden Tomb and the remains of a vineyard.
It is impossible to share the experience of seeing what could be the site of the Crucifixion (probably at the foot of Golgotha, not on top) and the Garden Tomb and its surroundings with a few pictures. But I’ll try.
Remains of the vineyard near the tomb
The Garden Tomb
Inside the Garden Tomb
When you step in the tomb and turn to the right, you will see three slabs. The one on the far left, which is slightly longer than the other slabs, may have been the slab that held the body of Christ. (Regardless, the good news is He is Risen!)
Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jews. With Pilate’s permission, he came and took the body away. He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds. Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs. 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. Because it was the Jewish day of preparation and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there. (John 19: 38-42, NIV).
Early on Sunday morning, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been taken away from the entrance. She went running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and told them, “They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!” Then Peter and the other disciple went to the tomb. The two of them were running, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent over and saw the linen cloths, but he did not go in. Behind him came Simon Peter, and he went straight into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying there and the cloth which had been around Jesus’ head. It was not lying with the linen cloths but was rolled up by itself. Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in; he saw and believed. (They still did not understand the scripture which said that he must rise from death.) Then the disciples went back home (John 20: 1-10, GNT).
Yeshua Appears to Mary
And Miriam stood outside at the tomb weeping. Then as she was weeping, she bent over into the tomb and saw two angels in white, sitting, one at the head and one at the feet, where the body of Y’shua had been lying. And those angels said to her, “Ma’am, why are you weeping?” She said to them that “They took my Lord, and I do not know where they put Him.” After she said these things she turned to those behind and saw Y’shua standing but had not recognized that it was Y’shua. Y’shua said to her, “Ma’am, why are you crying? Whom are you seeking?” Because she thought that He was the gardener she said to Him, “Sir, if you removed Him, you must tell me where you carried Him and I shall take Him.” Y’shua said to her, “Miriam.” After she turned to that One she said to Him in Hebrew, “Rabbi,” which means Teacher (John 20: 11-16 THE ONE NEW MAN BIBLE).
First Fruits or Easter?
For a better understanding of Passover and the First Fruits, read Leviticus 23, which outlines God’s Appointed Times, and I Corinthians 15: 20. Passover always begins on the 14th of the first Biblical month, a.k.a. Nissan. This year Passover begins at sunset on Friday, April 22. As I noted in the first paragraph, Easter is almost a month before Passover this year. Which calendar do you think God follows? The Biblical calendar or the Gregorian one?
But Christ indeed has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep (I Corinthians 15: 20 NIV).