What a day. My feet are killing me and I’m very tired, but it was great. I can’t believe I’m really here in Jerusalem. I’ve walked some of the same steps that Jesus did. Stood where he stood. Tried to hear his voice in places he taught.
We began the day traveling past the Valley of Gehenna. It’s where trash was burned in ancient times. It’s a green meadow now.
Then we walked between the walls Suliman the Great had built around the city. He thought the Spanish were coming to liberate the city, so he built the wall all around. The Spanish never showed up. You see the church? It’s catholic and devoted to Mary. Their tradition holds that Mary, as the mother of God, couldn’t die so she went to sleep and her soul ascended to Heaven. They built the church around the spot. Funny, I saw Mary’s tomb in Ephesus last year and the Catholic church has a lot of shops selling souvenirs there.
Tradition holds that this place is the upper room was where Jesus washed the disciples feet and Judas left to betray him after the Last Supper. The building wasn’t built until hundreds of years later. It was taken over by Muslims. They added the corner dome indication which direction to pray in. Now it’s back in Israel hands.
This statue of an olive tree has a grape vine and wheat shaft at the base, representing the bread and wine of communion. The olive tree has shoots grafted to the old trunk, just as we are grafted into God’s chosen people by His body and blood sacrificed for us.
Views across the Kidron Valley
The Beautiful Gate. Jesus entered the city through this gate as he came from the Mount of Olives. It is also the gate He will enter through when He comes again. The Muslims blocked up the gate and placed a cemetery in front of it. They seem to think that will stop Him. We know better.
Dome of the Rock on Temple Mount.
Jewish cemetery. Jews want to be buried here so they can be resurrected immediately when Messiah comes rather than 40 years later. Each two square meter spot costs $85,000 making this the most expensive land in the world.
Ancient Christian ossuaries. In 2003 an ossuary was taken from the Necropolis seen in the photo to Canada. There was an inscription reading, “Ya'akov bar-Yosef akhui diYeshua (English translation: "James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus”).” Debate has swirled since then as to whether the inscription is legitimate. Our guide thinks so. If it is authentic then it becomes the oldest record of Jesus.
The Garden of Gethsemane. Imagine that night nearly 2000 years ago. Jesus has come here to pray. He knows what lies ahead for him. He knows the agony he will go through for an ungrateful people. He prays. Drops of blood drip from his forehead as he agonizes over obeying his Father and finally, he drinks from it, giving us a way back into relationship with God. I wish we would have had more time just to sit and reflect on this. To imagine Jesus praying while his three closest disciples fall asleep. To hear the guards marching up the hill, led by Judas. To see him meekly heading down the hill, arrested, toward his death on a cross.
This olive tree has been dated to be over 2000 years old. Maybe Jesus leaned against the tree one of the many times he ascended the Mount of Olives
Mural of ancient Jerusalem street.
Foundation of the arch that Gentiles used to enter the Temple complex. This was the largest arch in the world. When our guide was a boy the ground level was at the top of the arch way. It has been excavated. The wall in front was the base of the arch.
Steps leading into a ritual bath for purification before the man entered the temple to offer sacrifice. There are multiple baths all around the temple complex.
The South steps. These steps lead away from the temple and would likely be where Jesus taught. The entry gates where people would take their animals for sacrifice is to the right, east along the wall. This was my favorite spot of the day. I may have sat where Jesus sat to teach. To think that the crowds gathered here to hear him teach.
The Western wall. This is the western wall of the temple complex. It is not actually part of the Temple itself but the retaining wall built by Herod so he could flatten Mount Zion to build his Temple. Jews come from all over to pray at the wall. Men and women are separated as we walked through security then come together again until the descent down the steps to the wall area. Men have about 2/3 of the space and women about a 1/3.
Adell pointed this out to me. See the white dove in the space. Just thought it was cool to see a representation of the Holy Spirit there.
In Caiaphas' house in the space they held Jesus overnight. Again, stood where Jesus stood 2000 years ago. Totally awesome to know He was where you are. Pastor Luke gave a short devotion here.
The hole in the ceiling through which they lowered Jesus into the space.
Steps leading from Caiaphas’ house down into the valley. They then connected to the steps leading up to the Temple Mount.
Modern courtyard where Peter denied Jesus three times before the cock crowed.
Today’s sites all centered around the last day/night of Jesus life. The Last Supper, prayer in the garden, the trial. Knowing He walked and stood in the places we walked and saw today is difficult to comprehend. We are in a modern city with all that encompasses. At the same time it is ancient. Walls chiseled by hand are accessed by modern steps and illuminated by energy saving bulbs. Sirens can be heard in the distance as can the sounds of modern day traffic. We even have wi-fi on the bus. It’s difficult to ignore the modern and focus on the events surrounding the last hours of our Lord.
Pastor Luke gave a short devotional at several of the major stops reading the relevant passage to the site. This helped me focus on Christ rather than simply looking at whatever we were seeing.
Now, I’m tired and my feet hurt. Hoping to get a good night’s sleep. Tomorrow we go to Temple Mount and will splash through the wet side of Hezekiah’s Tunnel. At least that’s the plan. Depending on the temperature I may decide to stay on the dry side.
In His Steps
My church offered the opportunity to travel for 10 days in Israel. I jumped at the chance. So daily I will be posting images and comments. I hope you are blessed with what I share.
This blog is dedicated to BL who went to meet our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We’ve been friends for over 40 years, raised our boys together, and our lives should have had many more years along side each other. God had other plans. We will be together for eternity.
I love you and will miss you terribly.