Hello again my blog friends. Today was probably the most intense and grueling day we have had on the trip so far, but also one of the most powerful. We spent the entire day in Jerusalem following Jesus' footsteps during the Passion week.
We started our day at the top of the Mount of Olives, looking over the city and the Temple Mount. Leor explained the general layout of the city as well as a brief overview of the history. We then headed down the Palm Sunday Road, which is close to the path that Jesus would have taken on Palm Sunday into Jerusalem. It afforded some beautiful views of the city. As we walked, I remembered how the Jews cheered for Jesus and shouted "Hosanna!" and then a week later turned on them. We then stopped at a chapel commemorating where Jesus wept over the city of Jerusalem.
We then continued down the road into the Garden of Gethsemane. Inside the garden are these ancient olive trees that are believed to be dated to the time of Jesus. It was so special to be there and know that this is where Jesus prayed and wrestled with what was going to happen, but knowing that it was God's will. It is also the place where Judas betrayed him. Next to the garden is the Church of All Nations, which commemorates the betrayal and arrest of Christ. It was very beautiful inside and it was the perfect place to sit and reflect on all that Jesus has done/gone through for me, a lowly sinner.
Then we headed to the Temple Mount and entered through the Joppa Gate. We wandered through the old city and the bazaars. It was so fun to see the different shops and all the unique wares they were selling. I loved the colors and textures there. It was super busy in the marketplace and so our group got separated for a bit, but we eventually found the rest of the group. We then visited the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which is the more traditional churches' view of where Christ was crucified and buried. It was a nice site, but I didn't really enjoy it. There was a lot of ceremony with it and it didn't have the authenticity and realness that so many of the other sites that we have visited have had.
After that, we headed to the Wailing Wall which is probably the most recognized site in all of Jerusalem. The wall was separated int a men's and a women's side, so the group separated and us girls went to tour side. We worked our way up to the wall, passing many different people praying. Some were sitting in chairs and many were at the wall praying. There were lots of Jewish women there praying with their Hebrew prayer books. Laying my hand upon the wall was special, knowing that this was one of the places that Jesus taught and prayed. Being there among so many people who do not have a personal relationship with Christ, who needed a book or the wall to pray, made me realize how special my relationship with my Savior is. I can turn to him with my thoughts worries, prayers and concerns whenever and whereever I need to and He is always there listening and loving me. There is nothing I have to do or say, or a specific place I have to go to talk with Him. It was a sweet revelation.
Then we toured the Rabbi's Tunnel, which is a series of underground tunnels below the Temple Mount, where we could see some of the original foundation stones from the Second Temple. It was a series of small tunnels and at times they were vey small, which brought out the claustrophobic in me, but it was definitely worth it.
We then stopped in a small church, which was the site of one of the stations of the cross, which remembered the beating of Jesus before He was crucified.
After lunch, we continued our sightseeing with Saint Anne's church, which survived the destruction of Jerusalem. This church was plain and mostly unadorned but it had beautiful acoustics. We were able to have the church to ourselves and so we just started singing different songs, praising God. Now if you remember from a previous post, our group is not the best at singing but in that church with our voices amplified we all sounded beautiful. We sang songs like "Amazing Grace", " Holy, Holy, Holy", and "Jesus Loves Me". It was such a sweet time and we all were moved by what took place In that small, unadorned church. Then we visited the Pool of Bethesda, where Jesus healed a lame man on the Sabbath in John 5.
We then walked around the Temple Mount starting at the Lion's Gate. We stopped at the Temple museum and we learned about how the ancient Jews made sacrifices at the temple. What really struck me there that like those ancient Jews, we Christians now travel to the Temple Mount as pilgrims, wanting to draw closer to Christ. But unlike the Jews, our sins are already forgiven by the blood of the Sacrificial Lamb, who is Jesus.
We also stopped at the Southern Gate, which is where the steps going into the Temple Mount are and sitting there imagining that this is where Jesus walked. It is an actual recorded event in the Bible and we were sitting on those very steps almost 2,000 years later. That was so incredible and it has been moments like these that have brought the Bible to life for me on this trip and has helped renew and strengthen my faith.
Well, I am signing off my friends. Tomorrow is our last day in Israel and we will be boarding our flight home tomorrow night so my final Israel post will actually be from home, although I will probably write it on the plane. So shalom to you my friends and I will see you all soon. :)