Church of the Holy Sepulchre

When the newly renovated Church of the Holy Sepulchre over the tumb of Jesus was made accessible to the public again, the German journalist Petra Gerster states in the news program “heute” (“today”): “… the tradition has been assuming that the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is above the grave with Jesus corpse. “

But “the tradition” also has been assuming that the tomb of Jesus is empty. Therefore because the biblical testimonies report that Jesus bodily rose from the dead.

Have we now to be afraid that some archaeologists will still find the body of Jesus?

I myself was not yet in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and don’t know anything definite about whether the supposed grave of Jesus was ever opened, or if this was prevented by the Christian churches.

I should know it or could inform myself, but it never interested me. Just as little I am interested in the shroud of Jesus. I don’t understand the efforts which were taken, why they did waste so much money to proof its originality. Maybe I am too much Protestant. The Holy Grail, splinter of Jesus’ cross, fabric of Jesus’ garment circulated in the Middle Ages in large quantities and were sold for much money because they were supposed to have magic powers.

What kind of faith is that, which clings to material things, which believes to have captured something of Jesus’ holiness or presence there in this splinter of wood?

That is superstition, nothing else. Imagine how millions of people worship a shroud, that perhaps has nothing to do with Jesus. That it shows the sweat imprint of a nameless, who suffered the crucifixion, the cruel death penalty of the Romans.

Even if it is really the shroud of Jesus, its worship is just as well to reject. We do not worship a patch of cloth or an image of Jesus, but the one who was enshrouded in this linen, if he really was it. We adore and pray to Jesus Christ who is alive because God raised him from the dead.

As Christians we need not to be afraid of science because it only records what you can see and measure. If it had been so obvious and provable during Jesus’ lifetime that Jesus was the Christ and the Son of God, wouldn’t have had all followed him, wouldn’t have had all “believed” in him? But the point is, multiplication of the loaves and stilling of the storm, healing of the sick and expelling of demons, are ultimately no proof of who Jesus was – or is. Just as little the beauty of creation is a proof of God’s existence.

If, therefore, one should find the corpse of Jesus, whose ribs are broken by the lance which the soldiers stuck in his body, and whose legs are not broken against the usual torture, would that not shock my faith or yours.

Such as the living body of Christ was no proof for who Jesus really was, the dead body of Christ wouldn’t be a proof that Christ is not risen. Because the dimension of faith has nothing to do with the visible but the invisible. The reality of faith is a matter of heart and is not constituted by facts.

I’m talking as simple about the “heart”, as if you could localize the faith there. Thereby for the medicine for a long time the heart is only an organ that pumps blood. Instead I could talk of “soul” or “identity” of the human as place where faith arises or dwells. But all these terms are only auxiliary means to be able to pass on own experiences, to let participate other humans in own experiences of God and to “incite” them to believe. To say: The human is more than food and drink, more than skin and bones, flesh and blood. To say: The human is put in a bigger context than the material world.

Why do I believe that? I simply could say: I don’t know, for ultimately it is a miracle, when a human starts to believe in God. But it has something to do with the scriptures of the bible, and with own experiences of God’s presence, which I gained. I have let myself being touched by the reports of the New Testament about Jesus, his life, his sermons, his death and resurrection. Not because everything is plausible or provable. The spark of faith has sparked itself in me and has changed my life completely. But ultimately, I can’t explain why a person begins to believe in God who has shown us in and through Christ “his heart”.

That the sparkle of faith “inflames” the whole human did not only the disciples experience on Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit came like a fire over them. God is present with his Spirit today too and wants to inflame our “hearts” with love to him and the risen Christ. (Volker Schunck)

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