JERUSALEM — With Israel finally shaking off COVID restrictions after more than 12 months, there was a sense of renewal of life as Christians were able to gather and celebrate Easter together once again.
“Here in Israel, we’ve been in more than a year's worth of seger – the Hebrew word for lockdown – because of the coronavirus,” ALL ISRAEL NEWS Editor-in-Chief Joel Rosenberg said from the Jerusalem promenade on Sunday morning. “But as infection rates fall, as death rates fall, as illnesses fall here and vaccination rates increase, finally Israelis and residents here, visitors here, are being allowed to get out and to gather, and what a special thing to do on a beautiful clear blue sky, sunny Easter morning.”
Rosenberg joined about 75 Israeli and international believers, ministry leaders, heads of NGOs, students, CBN News employees and lay people in an informal service organized by King of Kings congregation. They gathered at the promenade in southern Jerusalem for a time of scripture readings, prayer and worship at sunrise.
Several inspiring services took place around the country, as Israeli Christians came together in pockets all over the Holy City and around the nation, Rosenberg noted, to celebrate the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ along with 2.2 billion followers of Yeshua around the world.
The Garden Tomb brought believers into the serene garden which connects Skull Hill and an ancient tomb – a site where Jesus may have been crucified and buried – as a live service was streamed from in front of the empty grave.
Stephen Bridge, director of the Garden Tomb, challenged listeners to take stock of their response to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He noted that Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection were all witnessed by thousands of people.
“He literally physically died. He was literally physically buried in the tomb. He was literally physically raised to life,” Bridge said of Jesus. “He wasn’t a disembodied spirit that went to heaven. He was a physical man raised to life who then ascended into heaven as a physical human being. And He did it for us.”
There is more to receiving the Gospel than just hearing it, Bridge said – we must receive it and stand on it, stand in the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
“When we stand in Christ we stand in the victory of that resurrection. We have been brought out of the dominion of darkness to the kingdom of the Son that God loves,” he said.
“The cross is the beginning of the story, but not the end of it. The resurrection is the continuation of the story, not the end of it. Jesus was taken up into heaven and He will return. And when He returns, that’s the end of that chapter and the beginning of an eternity, with the Son of God.”
“As the world begins to open up again let’s go out in the power of the Gospel of the resurrection of Jesus Christ and hold fast in it,” he said.
The Garden Tomb, along with the rest of the tourism sector, faced a difficult year. With no visitors and no income, the ministry had to lay off employees and figure out how or if it could go forward after the pandemic.
“We now look back over a year and we can see the faithfulness of God,” Paul Weaver, chairman of the Garden Tomb’s board, said.
Weaved said they are now reshaping the garden to create a better flow and increase the amount of daily visitors that can enter the site.
“We are ready to receive many more people when tourists return to Jerusalem,” he said.
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.