John 20:1–9

Jesus Christ has risen from the dead! Alleluia! The central tenet of Christianity is that Jesus suffered, died, and was buried. Then, against all odds and to the amazement of the entire created universe, he rose from the dead. He who died now lives!

It should not be surprising that Christians would guard with holy reverence the place where this wonder occurred. For centuries Christians have gone to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, to venerate the tomb where life conquered death.

However, many skeptics have been concerned about the site’s authenticity. Until recently, the conventional wisdom held that the church only dates to A.D. 1009 (during the Crusades). But, in fact, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre had been variously destroyed and rebuilt (due to wars, earthquakes, and fires).

In 2016, after Israel’s Antiquities Authority determined the building was unsafe, the tomb was closed to the public for restoration. It was then that scientists from the National Technical University of Athens were permitted to examine the holy site thoroughly. National Geographic archaeologist Fredrik Hiebert said, “What was found is astonishing.”

Two independent labs confirmed that mortar dust from the site of the tomb dated to 345, just twenty years after the tomb is said to have been discovered by Christians during the reign of Constantine, Rome’s first Christian emperor. Kristen Romey, archaeology editor for National Geographic, concluded, “We finally have scientific proof that this site, the tomb of Jesus Christ, one of the holiest sites in Christianity, has been unbroken for seventeen hundred years.”

Does any of this mean that without a doubt the tomb belonged to Jesus of Nazareth? Not exactly. But it is compelling, especially when coupled with the testimony of ancient historians who tell us that a temple to the goddess Venus had been built over the Jewish cemetery by Emperor Hadrian in A.D. 130. When navigating the evidence of antiquity, what we have concerning the tomb of Jesus of Nazareth is highly persuasive.

And yet, in the end, Christian Faith is not based on scientific evidence of the place of the Resurrection. Our faith means believing that the Son of God, out of love, suffered death, and, out of love, he was restored to life. We believe he rose on the third day. Let us sing with joy, then, his Easter praise: “Christ indeed from death is risen, our new life obtaining. / Have mercy, victor King, ever reigning! Amen. Alleluia!”

Thank you for praying with us throughout this Lenten journey with My Daily Visitor.

May your Easter season be filled with much joy! Alleluia!