After these things, Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, though a secret one because of his fear of the Jews, asked Pilate to let him take away the body of Jesus. Pilate gave him permission; so he came and removed his body. Nicodemus, who had at first come to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, weighing about a hundred pounds. They took the body of Jesus and wrapped it with the spices in linen cloths, according to the burial custom of the Jews. Now there was a garden in the place where he was crucified, and in the garden there was a new tomb in which no one had ever been laid. And so, because it was the Jewish day of Preparation,
and the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there. John 19:38-42
I can feel the gentleness, the affection, the grief written in these words. During his ministry, Jesus often withdrew to a garden for quiet, prayerful, meditative time. There is a sweetness to the location of the tomb in a garden. The Garden Tomb in Jerusalem was discovered in 1867 and some think it is the location where Jesus was buried. But if the tomb were in the middle of a rock quarry, as most scholars think, isn’t it lovely that two men, believers who knew Jesus, Son of God, carefully selected a place never before used, prepared his body and lovingly laid him to rest? It makes the empty tomb even more dramatic because it was a place where love was the motivation for its selection, not expediency.
In 326 CE, Helena Augusta, mother of Constantine, journeyed to Jerusalem. At a former quarry and place called Golgotha, a temple to Venus/Aphrodite had been erected on the site of the presumed tomb of Jesus. Helena instructed that it should be razed. The legend is that Helena discovered the true cross on which Jesus was crucified as well as the tomb under that temple. In time Constantine built the Church of the Holy Sepulchre on the site, and of course it exists today with the tomb carefully marked and protected. In the 19th century an edicule was buiIt around the tomb to further protect it and now in the 21st century, the church has undergone two years of extensive conservation and preservation, an effort which has primarily confirmed rather than disputed the authenticity of its origins. Garden or quarry, two thousand years have not separated Jesus from his followers. We observe Good Friday with reverence for the Beloved.