As I begin, allow me to lay out a plan. I know that it will take days and perhaps even weeks to assimilate what all we have seen, felt, tasted, heard, and experienced. With this post, we hope to show the scenes and brief snippets of our last day in Israel, 2010, but we also understand that these are mere snippets; they do not share what God is doing in us through this marvelous experience.
We started off the day by a trip to the ancient City of David. Here is the former home/ palace of King David himself. This is the place where so much happened, including the spying of Bathsheba as she appeared on her rooftop to bathe. Of course, as you look around this place, it becomes very easy to see how this could have happened because the entire place is built on the side of a mountain.
From here we headed over to the Southern Wall of Jerusalem. This is another of my favorite places here because you can see actual bedrock where Jesus actually walked up to the Temple. You are truly walking where Jesus walked. Too, you can see the irregular steps leading into the Temple. These mean that one had to cautiously and thoughtfully enter His presence. (See Cheri placing her foot on the bedrock where Jesus could have very possibly place his own foot!)
The Tomb of David (that we visited) was probably not the actual place of his burial, Instead, it is a place of reverence and honor. It is also a very beautiful place where you can truly think and hear God.
The Via Dolorosa (Latin meaning Way of Sorrows) is a large portion of the street upon which Jesus carried His cross on the way to Calvary, (It was a little disappointing how commercialized it is here with all of the shops.) There are portions here also of actual stones upon which Jesus walked. This, too, was an exciting find for us as again, we walked where He walked … this time on the way to His crucifixion. We did have an interesting altercation with a shop owner/street vendor (which caused difficulty in remembering WHY we were here) but were quickly reminded of God’s forgiveness and His mercy.
From there, we went to the Church of the Last Supper/ Upper Room. We know that this structure was not here but we are for sure in the proximity where these events happened. It was here that Jesus had some of His final words to His disciples. It was here that Judas left to betray Christ. And it was here that the church was birthed in the day of Pentecost. We even wanted to hear the sound of a rushing mighty wind while we were here.
The area known as the Cardo was another 1st Century spot where we were able to see streets as they were at the time of Jesus. This was a very beautiful area and was situated in the Jewish Quarter of the city. As far as sheer manmade beauty, this was as good as they come.
Our next stop was the Antonia Fortress. We actually sat among the steps where Jesus was tried and perhaps even beaten. This was a great place of remembrance and introspection. It was also a very beautiful place.
The Pools of Bethesda are ancient ruins where healing took place and where Jesus Himself performed healings. The area was very beautiful and the understandings that Jesus ministered here caused this place to have great attraction to us.
The Garden Tomb is one of the sites that many feel is the actual place of Christ’s crucifixion, burial, and resurrection. It certainly has many of the necessary ingredients to be the right place. Our guide here was marvelous and convincing. Everyone was thrilled to see the empty tomb and I was thrilled to minister communion to all present. I had everyone give their communion to someone else (among us) as a symbolic giving of the Gospel to those around us. One missiologist has said that everyone should hear the Gospel once before anyone has heard it twice. What better way to remember this than in the midst of God’s chosen people, in the midst of His empty tomb, and among those we love and care for.
Our closing banquet featured a small, intimate buffet where we got to appreciate our guide and our driver and where we were able to present Pastors Jerry and Chris as well as Melva with tokens of our appreciation for them.
Our last day had some intimate and powerful times of worship…in the place where Jesus was beaten for us…in the darkness of the Arab quarter as we declared Him as Lord and King….and in the Garden Tomb where He was crucified, buried and rose again. We are so thankful to God and changed by God through this amazing experience in Israel.
Then we went to Tel Aviv to go through a lengthy security process. (It is a pain in the backside but I am thankful for the protection it gives us.) Now to settle in for a loooooooooong flight from here to New Jersey, then Chicago. We are glad to head home but do so with sadness in our departure.