Home > Faith, Post A Week 2012, Spirituality > Day 3 – Jerusalem – Old City

Day 3 – Jerusalem – Old City

Dec 8, Sabbath

You know that moment, that split second, when you wake up on the first morning of the long-awaited vacation of your dreams and you open your eyes and see unfamiliar furnishings and the thought pops into your mind, “Wow. I’m actually here!” I love that moment. If only we could bottle that motivation for the first day back to work after a great vacation.

View of Jerusalem (Temple Mount) (800x531)

The day’s itinerary would include some of the most treasured sites in Christianity. An eight o’clock start with the first stop at the Mount of Olives, the site of so many Biblical events. King David fled from Absalom to the Mount of Olives (2 Samuel 15:30-32). From the Mount of Olives, Jesus entered Jerusalem (Matthew 21:1-11) and later ascended to heaven (Luke 24:50-51).

Basilica of the Agony

Basilica of the Agony

From this vantage point, the Dome of the Rock and the Russian Orthodox Church dominate the skyline. You’ll recognize the Russian architecture with shining golden domes. It is easy to get caught up in the scenery, but stay focused because this is the site of the Garden of Gethsemene where Jesus prayed, “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me.” Just as oil was pressed from olives in this area, Jesus was pressed in agony as He surrendered His will to His Father. The Church of All Nations (Basilica of Agony) stands here.

Still full of emotion from our Mount of Olives visit, we were excited to have the opportunity to worship at the Seventh-day Adventist International Congregation in Jerusalem where the members graciously welcomed us along with the 55-strong New Jersey Conference group who were also visiting the area. What I like about visiting other churches while traveling is the fellowship found behind the doors of the church, where nationality, race, and language are secondary to the worship of our God and Creator.

Sign - Via Dolorosa (800x531)

Back on the bus, we headed to the precious Via Dolorosa (the Way of the Cross) to walk the fourteen stations, stopping where Simon of Cyrene helped Jesus carry the cross and where Jesus fell along the way. If I expected to have that holy “aaaah” feeling while walking along the Via Dolorosa, I might have been disappointed. I had to keep my mind fixed on the scriptures because the modern activities of the day constantly bombarded my senses. It’s busy, noisy and somewhat detached from the pilgrim’s spiritual experience. The last five stations, however, are contained within the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, steeped in religious ceremony and fervor. There are many ways to worship.

3rd Station

3rd Station

The atmosphere at the Garden Tomb sharply contrasted that of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The garden is quiet and peaceful. I thought this would be a trip of absolutes; instead the ‘evidence’ pointed in two directions. Exact locations for Biblical events are subject to interpretation and left to one’s belief. I don’t know that I am convinced of which location accurately marks the events surrounding the crucifixion of Jesus. I agree that the Garden Tomb has the feeling that I expected. I could easily imagine the scene when the women came to the tomb and were told by the angels that Jesus had risen from the dead (Luke 23:55-56; 24:1-7). Yet, as we reflected on the day’s events and the Biblical accounts during our communion service at the Garden Tomb, I also “remembered his words” (Luke 24:8). His word is true, and that is all the evidence I need.

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