The Life of Christ Memorial began in 2012 as an erosion control project, but God had a much higher purpose in mind! Erosion blocks and native stones were hand placed in the canyon walls behind the Memorial Chapel parking lot. With the addition of the three crosses of Calvary, the area began to take the appearance of the Holy Land. After the rock hillside was completed, a symbolic replica of the empty tomb was built and dedicated in 2014. Soon to follow was a symbolic manger in 2015 and in 2016 the Ministry of Christ and the Return of Christ were memorialized. Each area has a brass placard that explains the story with Scripture.
There are numerous visual symbols that have been observed in the Life of Christ Memorial, some of which are easily explained and others which are called "God Things", because only God Himself could explain how they happened.
- A Savior is Born: The birth of Jesus in a manger, both fulfilled prophesy and indicated to the world that He was a king who had come to win the hearts and souls of all mankind, whether rich or poor. He said..."My kingdom is not of this world".
- Christ's Ministry: The ministry of Christ lasted only about three years. The Beatitudes is one of the most memorable and most quoted parts of His ministry. A large flat rock with a larger-than-life carving of Jesus symbolizes the place where Jesus may have stood to deliver the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus or God is mentioned seventy six times, in the Bible, as "the Rock".
- The Three Crosses of Calvary: The cross of Jesus represents the price that was paid for the sins of mankind and the "way" to eternal life; Jesus said "I am the way..." John 14:6. Even the Roman Centurion, who helped crucify Jesus, stood at the foot of His cross after Jesus died, and exclaimed..."Surely, He was the son of God". (Matthew 27:54 N.I.V.)
- The crosses of the two thieves: The crosses represent mankind, condemned without a Savior. One accepted the way to eternal life by believing in Jesus as God's Son and one rejected the way to eternal life. That same choice remains for everyone, to this day.
- The rocks and stones: When Jesus died on the cross, He took all the sins of the world upon Himself, so that all that repent of those sins and accept Him, could have salvation. The rocks and stones, both large and small, could represent the sins of the world. One of these stones is from the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus prayed the night before He was crucified.
- The large erosion area: Just as this memorial will help heal the wound in the land, hopefully it can also help heal the wounds of broken hearts and broken lives of those who have never accepted Christ and of some Christians who have turned away from Christ and let sin overtake their lives.
- The stairway: Initially, rocks were to be used to stabilize the entire erosion area, including the steep erosion gulley in the middle of the erosion area, but it was too steep and would not provide a safe work platform during construction. A stairway was added, using erosion blocks, to give access to the top of the erosion area and help control erosion; however, it could represent the stairway to Heaven, available to the thief and to allow all who accept Jesus, as the Son of God. Coincidentally and totally unplanned, there are exactly thirty three steps from the crosses to the top of the last step, which is the most difficult. Christ was thirty three years old when He was crucified and the last year of His life was the most difficult.
- The light on the crosses: During construction one morning, before the sun came up over the east rim of the canyon and the crosses were in a dark shadow, suddenly, a bright light lit the crosses. Then, it was noticed that there was a house, on the west rim of the canyon, about 200 yards away, that was reflecting the morning sun from a plate-glass window. The light did not last long, but it is a reminder that Jesus is the light of the world. September 11 of each year, this light illuminates the stairs and the cross of Jesus. In April of each year, around Easter, this same reflected light illuminates the front of the tomb of Jesus.
- The wildflowers: These flowers grow up thru the rocks and represent the hope and peace that comes from the forgiveness of sins through Christ Jesus. One of the first wildflowers to bloom each Spring is purple, the color of royalty.
- The thorn bush: At one time, numerous thorn bushes were planted in the erosion area, to discourage children from playing on the steep slopes and getting hurt. When the project was started, these were removed to allow the stones to be placed. The roots of one plant survived and started to grow, coincidentally, directly behind the cross of Jesus. The Romans place a crown, of thorns on Jesus' head before He was crucified, so the thorn bush was allowed to remain.
- He is Risen: The empty tomb is the ultimate proof that Jesus arose from the dead, that He is the Son of God and that we can live eternally, if we believe and remain until He returns. The rock that holds the bronze plaque could represent the Apostle Peter's confession of faith that Jesus is... "the Christ, the Son of the living God". Jesus said, "..upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it". (Matthew 16:16,18)
- Christ Will Return: Christ promised His disciples, after His resurrection and when ascended into Heaven, He would return. When He returns, He will take all of those, both alive and dead, who believe in Him and have followed Him, home to eternal life. Jesus said that He is the "light of the world". A bright light points upward, toward Heaven, to symbolize His return.
This memorial is intended to represent the birth, ministry, death, resurrection, and the return of Christ, in a setting similar in appearance to when these events occurred or were prophesied.
May you be blessed by the Gospel message of the Life of Christ Memorial!
To God be the Glory!