This is from Zack Miller, a recent graduate of James Madison University:
After seeing eight sights in one day, the most impactful part was the vast difference between the Church of the Holy Sepulchure and Garden of the Tomb, two possible places Jesus died and was buried.
The Holy sepulchure is thought to be the place of Jesus’ crucifixion and tomb by many, while this lesser known spot, the Garden of the Tomb could also be the place of the same thing. What struck my heart was the very noticeable difference of the reason people were at each location. The church was packed with people who seemed to be worshipping the place rather than the person. Huge lines just to see a place amazed me and while it was supposed to be a holy place, it seemed more like a tourist spot to take pictures and carry out traditions. Meanwhile, the garden was quiet but had just as much, if not more justification of being the actual location of the crucifixion and burial of Jesus. While the place was beautiful, we were encouraged by our trip leader Pete to recognize the place yes, but more so worship and love the fact that it is why that matters so much more than where. Who cares where the tomb is because no matter the location, it is empty! We praise and give our lives to a living God of love. Respect traditions yes, but it seemed that the church and tangible things (such as the “possible” rock that Jesus was laid on after he was brought down from the cross) became idols, more important than the sinless man who gave his life so that we could experience eternal life and love through his death. I love how the Lord works, because I expected the church to be very meaningful and emotional. However, a quiet space, where I could feel the Lord’s presence had more than being surrounded by people just looking to visit a place had a much greater impact. Come and see the places, but go forth and know He is Risen!