Day six was by far our busiest day yet! We visited many of the main sites in the old city of Jerusalem. We began with a tour of the temple mount (the area where the first and second Jewish temple was built). Now there sits a Muslim site called the Dome of the Rock on the site of the original temples. This site has another significance in that it is also called Mount Moriah. This was where Abraham took his son Isaac to offer him as a sacrifice to the Lord. Because of that moment this site has been considered holy ever since.
Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!” “Here I am,” he replied. Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.” (Genesis 22:1-2)
Then Solomon began to build the temple of the Lord in Jerusalem on Mount Moriah, where the Lord had appeared to his father David. It was on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite, the place provided by David. (2 Chronicles 3:1)
After this we walked over to Bethesda. This was an area known for healing. They have done a terrific job excavating this area and you can go far enough down that there is still a pool of water at the bottom.
Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish festivals. Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?” “Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked. (John 5:1-9)
We also had the chance to have Jaime Geideman (one of Central’s worship leaders) sing at the best acoustically designed church I’ve ever been to. As soon as she began singing it literally sounded like there was a choir harmonizing behind her. I head headphones in one of my ears and I quickly pulled it out in confusion. I’m not sure if angels show up and harmonize with people who sing killer versions of Amazing Grace but it was seriously a supernatural experience. I’ve included a video that will give you a taste of the experience.
Then we went to back-to-back-to-back stops straight out of the Bible. This was the stuff that blows my mind and transforms forever how I will read the Bible. First was the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus prayed and waited before Judas betrayed Him. I’m not going to lie, I had always pictured this as more of a forest than it really is so it took me a bit to process this experience.
Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.” When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing. Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour has come, and the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!” (Matthew 26:36-46)
The Garden of Gethsemane looks down into the Kidron Valley and up across to Jerusalem. This means that Jesus would have been able to see Judas and the procession of soldiers coming to get Him from a long way off. Here is the view looking from the area of the Garden up to Jerusalem. This is the path the soldiers would have taken to come and get Him.
Going a little further we got to the Mount of Olives. Some gospels describe the scene in the Garden of Gethsemane as happening here but it also gives perspective to a powerful conversation that Jesus once had.
As Jesus was leaving the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher! What massive stones! What magnificent buildings!” “Do you see all these great buildings?” replied Jesus. “Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.” As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple [where the golden dome is now], Peter, James, John and Andrew asked him privately, “Tell us, when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are all about to be fulfilled?” (Mark 13:1-4)
After this we went back into Old Jerusalem and walked many of the stages of the cross. We got to see the “upper room” where the last supper took place. This place was doubly significant as well as it sits on top of the tomb of King David.
Then came the day of Unleavened Bread on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and make preparations for us to eat the Passover.” “Where do you want us to prepare for it?” they asked. He replied, “As you enter the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him to the house that he enters, and say to the owner of the house, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ He will show you a large room upstairs, all furnished. Make preparations there.” They left and found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared the Passover. (Luke 22:7-13)
Shortly thereafter we experienced one of the most bizarre things in all of Israel known as the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. This is the site of the crucifixion and burial of Jesus. This is often considered the most holy place for Christians today. As a result, there are seven denominations that share (read: fight over and quarrel) this church together. Bizarre doesn’t even begin to describe this. It is fascinating to see the actual rock left of the hill that they believe Jesus was crucified on top of.
Finally, we closed our day with an equally mind-blowing experience by visiting the Western Wall. This is where Jews go to pray and meditate since the Temple Mount is controlled by the Muslims. We got to have an incredible experience and walk underneath the wall and the city. Definitely something you MUST do if you are here. We got to see the base of the walls that Herod built.
Click here to read all of my posts from this Israel trip.