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The Holy Land Experience: Passion Play (at Calvary's Garden Tomb)


Rating: * * * 1/2
Type: Drama set on a re-creation of Christ's tomb
Time: 35 minutes
Short Take: Moving and dramatic

In a sunken garden setting, the approach lined with white lilies at Easter time, lies an imaginative reconstruction of Christ's tomb. The huge circular stone door is rolled aside as it was on the third day when the women who came to anoint Christ's body discovered He was risen. If you step inside you see a typical tomb of the period, the winding cloths in disarray, and a small sign that says. "He is not here for He is risen."

Above the tomb rise the three crosses of the crucifixion. Shaded seats and benches in front of the tomb allow a place for quiet contemplation most of the day, and provide audience seating during one of the daily Passion Plays depicting Jesus's final earthly moments.

"The Passion of Jesus Christ" is a fast-paced dramatization of the life and death of the Nazarene. A winged angel announces Mary's immaculate impregnation; then we fast-forward to the Garden of Gethsemane for Judas' kiss. Pilate, perched atop a nearby tower, washes his hands. Then Roman soldiers beat Jesus bloody, scourge him with whips, and lead him through the crowd to the cross on Calvary Hill above the Garden Tomb. The entire event is presented in graphic, even gory detail, and parents with young children may want to beware.

Tip: A family seating section is designated to shield young eyes from the most graphic moments. Use it.

The show concludes with the rolling back of the empty tomb, and a call to group prayer set to a dramatic Contemporary Christian pop soundtrack. Holy Land's "CENTURY" acting ensemble performs with obvious emotion and commitment befitting the subject. In the rear of the seating area is the small Judean Village Stage where you may see small-scale devotional skits, such as "The Woman at the Well," about a shady Samaritan who meets Jesus.

Note: Many of the plants in the park have signage explaining their biblical connections. Here at the tomb, for example, a sign in front of an aloe plant tells us that the plant was often used for embalming and offers a Bible verse (John 19:39) in which the plant is mentioned.

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