Yesterday, we talked about Joseph of Arimathea and how he gave Jesus an honorable burial despite the fact that He was a crucified “criminal.” And though we know that his sacrifice played a part in the unfolding of our Savior’s death and resurrection, many of us aren’t familiar with the story behind what remains of the famous tomb. Forgive me for being nerdy again, but I love history, and I especially love Israel. As a traveler who has been all over the world, Jerusalem is still my favorite city, and to me, the most special place there is the Holy Sepulchre. It’s run by six different denominations, and though it looks like a church from the outside, inside, it’s an eerie mix of staircases, caves, and religious relics that make it very mysterious. Even stranger is the fact that it has a door, and when Saladin recaptured Jerusalem, he gave one Muslim family the rights to the entrance, and every morning since then, they’ve brought an 800-year-old key to unlock it for worshippers. Yet while these things are interesting, the greatest significance of the Holy Sepulchre is that all the evidence points to it being the actual location of Jesus’ grave. This is why it’s been considered sacred throughout the course of history, and it’s why the Roman Emperor Hadrian was determined to destroy it. Since it was a symbol of His triumph, after Jesus ascended to Heaven, groups of His followers and disciples would gather there to worship. Legend has it that because Hadrian was extremely anti-Semitic (and Christianity was seen as a sect of Judaism), in A.D. 130, he decided to build his new temple to Jupiter and Venus on that site to keep believers from assembling there. However, when the Roman Emperor Constantine’s mother — who was a devout Christian — traveled to Jerusalem, she knew where Jesus had been buried, and she also knew that Hadrian’s temple to Zeus was on the site of His tomb. Because of her son’s influence, she made sure that that place was landmarked as sacred and preserved for generations to come. Ironically, although Hadrian had been determined to decimate the significance of the monument, his efforts to destroy it actually saved it for future generations!
My friend, Jesus prevails! Even when things look strange and circumstances seem beyond redemption, He knows how the story will play and He always has the final say. Nothing plotted or planned can ever destroy His greater plan, and no worldly power can triumph over what He has ordained. No matter how dark things seem, God gets the glory in the end, and He will use every situation to point people to the way of His truth and abundant life.