As we consider pillar 6, our adventure takes on new and exciting perspectives. We travel to the country of Israel, where the literal presence of God, veiled in the flesh, walked and talked among the people 2,000 years ago. The tangible and historical evidence of Jesus Christ’s life and death are not only obvious in history, but essential for our consideration.
Today you see, each of the support pillars could be expressed in a single word. Noah’s Ark for example would be Mercy, Sodom and Gomorrah (Judgment), The Great Pyramid (Perseverance), Red Sea Crossing (Deliverance), Mount Sinai (Relationship), and this location (number six) as Victory.
Within two separate garden locations, two kinds of victories become very significant: physical victory over death and the grave at the garden tomb, and spiritual victory, where the battle over humanity was really fought and won, in the garden of Gethsemane. All four of the Gospel writers lead us to the very spot where this incredible battle with self occurred.
Near the entrance to the garden, Jesus left all but three of the disciples, bidding them pray for themselves and for Him. With Peter, James, and John, He entered its secluded recesses. These three disciples were Christ’s closest companions. Often they had passed the night with Him in this retreat.
On these occasions, after a season of watching and prayer, they would sleep undisturbed at a little distance from their Master, until He awoke them in the morning to go forth to labor. But now He desired them to spend the night with Him in prayer. Yet He could not bear that even they should witness the agony He was to endure.
“Tarry ye here,” He said, “and watch with Me.” He went a little distance from then-not so far but that they could both see and hear Him- and fell prostrate upon the ground. He felt that by sin He was being separated from His Father. The gulf was so broad, so black, so deep, that His spirit shuddered before it. This agony He must not exert His divine power to escape. As man He must suffer the consequences of man’s sin. As man He must endure the wrath of God against transgression.
From Jerusalem as we pan across the Kidron valley we know that it is here, where the spiritual victory was decided! There is little doubt that some of these very olive trees, dates back to the occasion of Christ’s struggle. We can here His bitter cry, “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me, nevertheless not as I will, but as Thou wilt.”
God was reconciling the world to Himself, through the suffering of His Son. Christ would pay a price that it was impossible for fallen humanity to pay. That death sentence would be carried out, here, at Calvary. It wasn’t just an end, but a beginning, not just a defeat, but also a victory.
Having become the sacrifice for the world, His lifeless body is taken from the cross and placed in borrowed tomb. We know that this is that very tomb where the Savior laid. Certainly it fits the description of burial tombs of the day, however this one is unique; in that we can observe not only the finished side was enlarged for a different person, but that it is in a garden area as recorded in scripture.
Located just a few hundred feet from the crucifixion site that we’ll consider in Pillar 7, we also see evidence that this particular tomb had been sealed. Not only do we see a large trough for the sealing stone, which would have been rolled in place to cover the entrance, but careful examination of the cliff face reveals the remnants of this sheared off iron pin.
The 13’2″ measurement from the cliff stop to this pin would become amazingly significant upon finding the large stone. Still covered, lying in front of the cross holds is the sealing stone, it’s diameter, 13’1″. While we are uncertain as to how it ended up at this location, it’s obviously the stone that sealed Christ’s tomb. Perhaps when the angel removed it at the resurrection, would be one explanation. It does seems fitting though, that it would be lying at the foot of the cross, a blatant illustration of victory over death and the grave, for all who believe on the sacrifice thereon.
One aspect of the empty tomb that is often overlooked, is the time in which it was used. At last Jesus was at rest. The long day of shame and torture was ended. As the last rays of the setting sun ushered in the Sabbath, the Son of God lay in quietude in Joseph’s tomb. His part as the great Sacrifice for humanity, complete. His hands folded in peace, He rested through the sacred hours of the Sabbath day. For truly He is Creator and Redeemer, at the great accomplishment of each.
Our consideration of these two gardens calls for a response, perhaps like that of the three men most encouraging to the Savior that day. Upon the very day of His death, three men, differing widely from one another, had declared their faith-he who commanded the Roman guard, who blurted out, “Truly this was the Son of God,” (Matt. 27:54), he who bore the cross of the Savior, and he who died upon the cross at His side. Just as these men were confronted with the man from Galilee, so are we all. For the Grace of God that bringeth Salvation hath appeared to all men. Is this your time? Your moment? I pray so! For more, much more on this incredible pillar please order tape number 6 from the 7 pillar series.