Q: #274. Where was Jesus buried?
A: First, let’s look at what the Bible says about the place where Jesus was crucified and buried.
(Jn 19:17) And he bearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha:
(Jn 19:41-42)(NASB) Now in the place where He was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. (42) Therefore because of the Jewish day of preparation, since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.
(Also see: Mt 27:33,59-60, Mk 15:22,46, Lk 23:33,53)
Where was this place? No one knows with absolute certainty. However, nearly everyone today believes it is one of two places.
The first, and traditional place, is contained in a church in Jerusalem called “The Church Of The Holy Sepulchre.” The history behind this site is that in the 4th century, Emperor Constantine’s mother, St. Helena, traveled to Jerusalem and supposedly was convinced she had found evidence showing the places where Jesus was crucified and buried. She discovered the remains of a cross (some reports say 3 crosses) revered by many at the time as the cross of Jesus, the remains of a cave near that, and The Rock Of Calvary (Golgotha). When she reported this to her son Constantine (who had recently become a Christian), he ordered that a church be built over all of them (in 326 A.D.). This church became “The Church Of The Holy Sepulchre.”
This was always considered the burial place of Jesus until 1867 when a second possible place was discovered. This place is called “The Garden Tomb.” For hundreds of years it had been buried under rubble. When it was uncovered, it was found to fit a number of descriptions described in the Bible. It was several hundred feet from a rock formation that looked like a skull. There were remnants of a garden (a lush garden is there now) with a large watering cistern nearby. There was a track that a stone could be rolled over to cover the entrance. Inside was two burial chambers, big enough to hold a family (Joseph Of Arimathea’s tomb [Mt 27:60], most likely built for his whole family). It would have cost a lot of money to build in those times, and the Bible says Joseph Of Arimathea was wealthy (Mt 27:57). It is also just outside the walls of Jerusalem, which some say makes more sense than Jesus being buried within the city itself. (Many scholars believe the site of “The Church Of The Holy Sepulchre” was also outside the city walls at the time of Jesus’ burial, but was later put inside when the city walls were expanded.)
*** It is also worth considering that if early Christians believed The Garden Tomb was actually the burial place of Jesus, why did they let it become buried under rubble while venerating the site where “The Church Of The Holy Sepulchre” was later built?
The evidence supporting each place is very compelling. It is truly impossible to know for sure. However, we need to keep in mind that the most important thing is not where Jesus was buried, but rather, that He arose from the dead on the 3rd day. The Resurrection of Jesus is the key to the Christian faith.