06.05 A walk through history…


Garden Tomb

This site north of the Damascus Gate is believed by many to be the place of the Crucifixion and the Burial of Christ, as opposed to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. In 1883, the British General Charles Gordon noted this rocky hill, which resembled a human skull – with caves marking the eyes, nose and mouth, and suggested that this might be the true Calvary. Galgotha means “place of a skull” and this site is known as “Gordon’s Calvary” where Jesus’ crucifixion took place.
The presence of a nearby rock-hewn tomb, believed to be first century, helped to strengthen the idea. An Association was formed and by 1892, sufficient money was collected to purchase the tomb and its surroundings and have it cared for by a resident warden. The Garden Tomb gives a clear picture of what the place of Crucifixion and burial of Christ must have looked like at the time of Jesus.
Read up on the Garden Tomb (John 19:38-42), the Roman watch set before the tomb (Matt 27:62-28:4, 11-15), the women before the tomb (Matt 28:1-5; Luke 24:1-12; John 20:1-8) and Risen with Christ (Col 3:1-10).

Garden Tomb


Via Dolorosa

Via Dolorosa

The Via Dolorosa is the traditional pathway Jesus followed carrying the cross from Pontius Pilate’s judgment hall, where he was condemned to death, to Calvary where he was crucified. The events of this sorrowful way are commemorated by 14 stations of which 9 are related in the Gospels and 5 are tradition.

Station 1: The First Station is near the Monastery of the Flagellation, where Jesus was questioned by Pilate and then condemned. “Then Pilate therefore took Jesus and scourged him. And the soldiers platted a crown of thorns, and put it on his head, and they put on him a purple robe, And said, Hail, King of the Jews! And they smote him with their hands” (John 19:1-3)

Station 2: This station is near the Arch of Ecce Homo, in memory of the words pronounced by Pilate as he showed Jesus to the crowd. On some stones of the preserved part of the arch are the signs of an ancient dice game, which has given support to the hypothesis that this was the place where the Roman soldiers gambled for Jesus’ clothes.

Station 3: (tradition) This commemorates Christ’s first fall on the Via Dolorosa, marked by a small chapel belonging to the Armenian Catholic Patriarchate.

Station 4: (tradition) The meeting between Jesus and his mother is commemorated by a small oratory with an exquisite lunette over the entrance.

Station 5: An inscription on the architrave of one door recalls the encounter between Jesus and Simon the Cyrenian, who was given Christ’s heavy Cross to carry to Galgotha, the place of the Crusifixion.

Station 6: (tradition) A church belonging to the Greek Catholics preserves the memory of the meeting between Jesus and Veronica, whose tomb may also be seen here.

Station 7: (tradition) The place of Jesus’ second fall is marked by a pillar, which rises at the crossroads between the Via Dolorosa and the picturesque and lively Market Street.

Station 8: On the outer wall of a Greek Orthodox monastery is carved a small cross blackened by time. It was at that point that Jesus talked to the women of Jerusalem.

Station 9: (tradition) The third fall of Jesus is commemorated by a column of the Roman period at the entrance to the Coptic monastery.

Station 10-14: These are situated inside the Church of the Holy Sepulcher where Jesus was stripped of His garments, nailed to the cross, crucified and died, His body removed from the cross and buried in the sepulcher.

(Written by Hadassah Chew)


05.04 When was Jesus born?

Today, we are living in the period called AD (ie, Anno Domini, “in the year of the Lord [Jesus Christ]). The period before AD is called BD (“Before Christ”). On the basis of the terms BC and AD, people think that Christ must be born in AD 1. This is wrong. Christ could not have been born in AD 1. Matt 2:1 tells us that Christ was born at the time when Herod was king. But by AD 1, Herod the Great was no longer living; he died in 4 BC. Moreover, Luke 2:2 tells us that Christ was born at the time when a census was being conducted by Cyrenius. This census occurred in 5 BC. Jesus thus was not and could not be born in AD 1!

Christ was born in 5 BC, and not AD 1. How did this discrepancy come about? This discrepancy was due to Dionysius’ (a Scythian monk) miscalculation when he prepared a standard calendar for the Western Church. In Dionysius’ calendar, Jan 1, 754 AUC (Anno Urbis Conditae, ie, “from the foundation of the city of Rome”) became AD 1. This became a problem because later research showed that Herod the Great (cf Matt 2:1) died in 750 AUC, ie, 4 BC. How could Jesus be born at at time when Herod was already dead? This contradicts the historical records of Scripture which tell us that Jesus was born when Herod was still alive. Thus, Jesus could not have been born in AD 1 (so Dionysius), but sometime before Herod’s death (ie, 4 BC) according to the Scriptures.

Now, exactly when was Jesus born? Jesus must have been born within 2 years prior to Herod’s death. This we gather from Matt 2:7 which tells us that after Herod had ascertained the time of the star’s appearance, he commanded the execution of all the baby boys 2 years old and below (Matt 2:16). Thus, Jesus must have been born sometime between 6-4 BC. We know that John the Baptist was conceived in the womb of Elizabeth 6 months before Mary became pregnant with Jesus (Luke 1:36). The difference in age between John and Jesus was only 6 months. Luke 3:1 tells us that John began his ministry in the 15th year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar. Tiberius became ruler in AD 11. The 15th year would bring us to AD 26 as the inaugural year of John’s baptismal ministry when he reached the age of 30. In keeping with Luke 3:23, Jesus would also be about 30 years old that year since he was only 6 months younger than John. This would thus make 5 BC the year of Christ’s birth. (Note: there is no BC or AD 0.)

(Taken from Rev. Jeffrey Khoo, The Life of Christ Part 1 (Singapore: FEBC), pg 25-6.)