Over the years of our marriage, my wife occasionally enjoyed driving by the former house of her grandparents (now deceased) because she spent a great deal of her youth there. Nowadays, given traffic and population growth, driving there is a time-consuming trip. I recently brought up the residence on Google Earth (Google Maps). She was fascinated that she could view all angles of the home, even overhead. Although I’m not the sort to make a regular journey to my past, recently while digging through my legal papers I found my birth certificate. I immediately brought up my parent's former address at the time of my birth (apparently now demolished). I also searched for the office of the obstetrician that my mother used during her pregnancy -- that office surprisingly still exists!
Strolls down memory lane, visiting someplace we were personally connected to, is one thing. Making tourist pilgrimages to the supposed burial sites of Jesus is another. Yes, you read me correctly, “sites,” (plural). From a historical, archeological curiosity point of view, I imagine that, given the chance, I would want to visit at least one of these places. But not because of its connection with Jesus, rather, more because it would reveal the lifestyles and customs of an ancient civilization. After leaving the Catholic Church and making an earnest study of the Bible, I learned the truth of the statement that we should “walk by (live by) faith, not by sight.” (2 Corinthians 5:7) What kindled this recent interest was reading a news article about the structural weakness of one of the supposed burial sites. A great deal of attention and interest in this tomb has been on the rise. Question is, should Christians really be so absorbed with this?
From what I gather, these sites have been elevated to places of worship, nearly, if not fully, becoming objects of idolatry. Again, for me, merely to view it as a historical sample of burial places is fine. But to make it into a religious experience just doesn’t jive with scripture. Why do I say this?
- Again, we walk by faith, not sight. Seeing a tomb that may or may not have been Jesus burial place is not going to make us appreciate him anymore. Reading scripture does that much better.
- Fixating on objects (whether person or place) is not something God wants.
- I am reminded of Jude 9. Satan was arguing with Michael about Moses body. Although no details are provided, might it have been that Satan wanted to make Moses’ body something to be worshiped?
- Just this week I was reading how the Israelites in Jeremiah’s day were using both “The Law” and the Temple as a good luck charm, thinking those things automatically provided protection and God’s approval. The Israelites were self-deceived.
- The Bible account of Jesus’ burial makes it quite clear that after Jesus was resurrected, the body was nowhere to be found. It is vastly more important that Jesus was resurrected and living today. Giving worshipful attention to an unproven burial site almost seems sick. I mean, think of it -- if you had buried a relative mistakenly thinking he was dead and subsequently discovered he was buried alive, after retrieving him, would you really be visiting his grave site? That is the last thing I’d want to think of doing. It would give me shivers just considering it. Instead, every day I’d be celebrating that I have my loved one back with me. Similarly, Jesus IS alive. His murder at the hands of Jewish religious leaders and the Romans, although prophetically necessary, was still an atrocity. Why focus on the negative when we have the living positive?
- Jesus gave very specific instructions on commemorating his death and those instructions did not include visiting his gravesite.
- There is not even one scripture suggesting that any of the followers of Jesus ever returned to the burial site after Jesus’ resurrection had been proven to them.
Jesus is indeed alive in heaven. Keep reading and reflecting on scripture; discern what the will of God is. Read more on how to commemorate Christ's sacrifice for us.
This article is along the same vein: Is The Cross Something To Be Reverenced?