Saturday, December 26, 2009

a tomb cut in a rock

Near the rock-hewn Garden Tomb gardens in Jerusalem
Rock-hewn Garden Tomb gardens in Jerusalem, Israel
Garden Tomb gardens

sign at entrance to the Garden Tomb and gardens

Excerpt from "Meeting God in Holy Places," by F. LaGard Smith: 

"After all, when do we most need comforting?

When we are on a mountaintop, or when we are in the pits? Without question, God knows full well when we need him most. How could we ever forget that our Savior Himself was buried in a quarry? 

When Joseph of Arimethea had taken Jesus' body down from the cross, he wrapped it in linen cloth and placed it in a "tomb cut in the rock." Had the story ended there, of course, there would be no comfort in Christ. The quarry of death would have held captive its prey...but the psalmist's words have meaning for us precisely because they had meaning for Jesus: 

"From the depths of the earth you will again bring me up. You will increase my honor and comfort me once again." By the ropes of his divine power, God lifted up "a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation" of his temple.

By those same ropes of grace, God lifts us up from the bosom of his heart and give us new life, new hope, new vision for what he has called us to be. The prophet Isaiah changes the metaphor so that not just Christ is hewn out and lifted up as the chief cornerstone, but we ourselves become hewn from him who is the Rock of Ages. "Listen to me," says Isaiah, "you who pursue righteousness and who seek the Lord: Look to the rock from which you were cut and to the quarry from which you were hewn."

path leading to the Garden Tomb

Is there a greater expression of hope and expectancy? "The Lord will surely comfort Zion and will look with compassion on all her ruins; he will make her deserts like Eden, her wastelands like the garden of the Lord. Joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the sound of singling."

Comfort. Compassion. Joy. Gladness. Thanksgiving. Singing. All from the depths of a heaven-like quarry. All from the immeasurable depth and breadth of the heart of an ineffable God."

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