It was a cold, rainy day here in Israel (our first) and it fit today’s mood, as we walked with Jesus in his final days and concluded our day at Garden Tomb.
Our day began with a devotion at the Upper Room (Mark 14:12) where three important events occurred: Jesus washed the feet of his disciples and served them the last supper; Jesus appeared to his disciples after his resurrection and showed his wounds to Thomas; and , after the ascension, Pentecost occurred in this place and the disciples spoke in many tongues.
In the 11th century, The Cenacle (Upper Room) was converted to a mosque and then back to a church, however Muslim remnants remain, including Arabic text written in a stained-glass window (bottom left). Pastor Kip anointed us all–even Elias, one of our incredible guides.
Before Jesus was taken to Gethsemane, he was tried by and condemned by his own people in the House of Caiaphas. Today, the Church of St. Peter in Gallicantu stands where on that very spot on the slope of Mount Zion and there are three levels: an upper church, middle church, guardroom and dungeon (cistern) where Jesus was held prisoner (bottom).
Beside the Church of St Peter in Gallicantu, excavations have brought to light stone steps and a road (middle right) where Jesus would have descended from Mount Zion to the Kidron Valley. That night, on their way from the Last Supper to Gethsemane, Jesus would have passed that way.
All of the sites we visited today were in Old Jerusalem and we were privy to truly incredible views. Jerusalem is a city entirely surrounded by walls rebuilt in the 15th century. The Gate of Zion is pictured above.
Jesus prayed in Gethsemane the night before he was crucified and we walked through that very garden today among 2,200-year-old olive trees (top right). The Church of Gethsemane (or the Church of Agony) is one of the most beautiful we’ve seen on our pilgrimage and always dark inside to help you feel like you’re praying right along Jesus at night.
The Garden Tomb site came next. According to the scriptures, Jesus was crucified in a place named “the Skull” (Golgotha in Aramaic). In the mid-19th century, several Christian scholars suggested that the rocky escarpment (top left), which can be viewed from the gardens surrounding the tomb, marked the place of the Messiah’s crucifixion.
They noted its proximity to a main city gate, its association with executions according to local tradition, and its physical resemblance to a skull. Researchers have also discovered the site was at one time an agricultural garden and ancient Jewish tomb has been found there, perhaps the empty tomb of Jesus.
We ended our day having communion together right at the Garden Tomb, giving thanks for all we have witnessed and all Jesus has done for us.
Tomorrow we wrap up our Holy Land tour by visiting several more sites in Jerusalem. I will do my best to blog tomorrow before our fight back to the U.S.
God Be With You,