The centerpiece of our Christian faith is the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The wonderful words of the angel at the tomb says it all – “He is not here! He is risen! (Matthew 28:6).” If an ossuary (a small stone box containing the bones of the deceased person) would ever been found complete with the name of Yeshua on the outside and the bones of Jesus inside (one was actually found, but not the “Yeshua” of the Bible), as Paul said, “our faith would be futile (1 Corinthians 15:17).” But that wasn’t the case! The tomb was empty, not because of the body of the Savior being stolen nor because His followers hallucinated or made up the story. The tomb was empty because Jesus was literally raised to life.
In Israel, 100s of Second Temple Tomb (tombs dating to the 1st century) have been found. About 2 dozen tombs have actually been found in and around the Holy Sepulcher Church. In my humble opinion, this is the most likely area of Christ’s tomb, in contrast to the Garden Tomb, which although is a much nicer atmosphere to consider the significance of Christ’s death and resurrection, is not a 1st century tomb but rather a classic 1st Temple (Iron Age) tomb. But we worship the Person, not the place. And we honor not merely tradition, but historical truth, and reality of Christ’s resurrection.
The most likely type of Second Temple Tomb Jesus was laid in on Friday afternoon was an arcasolium tomb. The most common type of tomb during the period of the New Testament was the koch (kochim, plural) or niche tomb. However, it seems as if they angels in the resurrection story couldn’t sit at the feet and head of Christ (John 20:12) within a narrow and elongated niche tomb. Joseph of Arimathea’s tomb was a newly-hewn tomb (Matthew 27:60), and must have been a tomb of prominence. What a dramatic event it must have been for the women at the tomb who were told by the angels of Christ’s resurrection!
Easter blessings to everyone!