Monday, April 9, 2012

Jesus' Tomb: Why it isn't finished

Last week I wrote Visiting the Mount of Olives and the Garden Tomb because visiting those sites in Jerusalem had an important spiritual impact on me. I didn't write much about the Garden Tomb; however, after I posted it I spent some time thinking about that experience and trying to come up with some words for it. While doing this, I had a new insight into the Garden Tomb that I am so excited to share with you! 

Before I go there, however...

At church yesterday, my pastor spoke on "The Whole Package." The focus of Easter isn't the crucifixion. It's not even the crucifixion and resurrection. The whole package of Easter is believing in the crucifixion, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. I won't go into the importance of all three here, but we must recognize that you can't pick to believe in one or two. They all go together. 

His sermon had one more focus - believers are spiritually crucified, buried, and resurrected with Christ. "What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin--because anyone who has died has been freed from sin." (Romans 6:1-7)

Which brings me to my insight regarding the Garden Tomb...

The Garden Tomb has different sections as you can see in this picture showing the blueprint of the tomb. Visitors are only allowed into the Weeping Chamber (6). From there, an iron fence has been added to separate you from the loculi, or the places where the bodies would have been laid (4 & 8). I say bodies because the tomb was hewn to hold two bodies. Matthew 27:59-60 records for us that Joseph of Arimethea asked for the body of Jesus after He had died on the cross. Joseph wrapped the body in cloths and placed it in his own, new tomb. At the time of our visit I joked that the Unfinished Loculus (8) must have been meant for Mrs. Joseph of Arimethea. 

This weekend, as I thought about the distinction between the finished and unfinished loculi, I remembered Jesus' words as He hung on the cross. "It is finished" (John 19:30). My next thought was this - the loculus for the bride wasn't finished. That was my light bulb moment. Joseph of Arimethea may have planned the tomb and had it hewn in his garden but he and his bride were never buried there. The tomb was Jesus' tomb; the unfinished loculus is for His bride. His bride isn't finished yet. "'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.'  This is a profound mystery--but I am talking about Christ and the church" (Ephesians 5:31-32).

For two thousand years, many of us have spiritually shared in His crucifixion, burial, and resurrection. Our work isn't finished though; more are still to be called! The bride isn't complete. Once the bride is complete, those of us who have spiritually shared in His death, burial, and resurrection will also physically resurrect. "But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith (1 Corinthians 15:12-14).

For me, this thought challenges me to help get the work done! 

  • What area of my life do I need to work on to become more like Him?
  • Who can I share His message with so they may put their faith in Him and help bring the Bride to completion?
  • Who can I disciple that they may grow in their faith and knowledge of Him?
  • What ministry can I support so that others may share the Word of God with those who haven't heard?    
Perhaps there are others...what areas can you think of where we need to help get the work done that the Bride may be finished? Please leave a comment!

If you want to read more about the our spiritual and physical resurrection with Christ, you can read Romans 6 and 1 Corinthians 15.


  1. That is powerful, Kathi! A lot to ponder about the place for the bride being unfinished as she is unfinished... Thank you for sharing this.

  2. Wonderful thoughts Kathi! It makes me pray ever fervently for His direction in my life and my children's lives. Each day is a valuable opportunity to pursue His kingdom work instead of our own. Thanks so much for sharing!

  3. Yes, you captured my heart! Oh, may we continually ask Him for the strength and wisdom to be a Kingdom Preparation Force. What will it take for the whole Bride of Christ to be gathered? Are we willing to do whatever it takes? Thank you for spurring me on, Kathi.