Today we got an early start to explore the city of Jerusalem and visit the locations of the final hours of Jesus. It was a sobering and meaningful experience to think that these were the very places that "He who had no sin became sin for us so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." (2 Corinthians 5:21)
Our first stop was what is likely the most iconic location in all of Israel- the Western Wall, sometimes called the "Wailing Wall", because it is here that Jews gather to pray along the Western Wall of the Temple Mount because it is the closest they can get to where the Holy of Holies would have been. You can see the men crowded in the corner. It is the preferred place.
From here we took a tunnel which runs along the Western Wall at the level of the 1st century. Jesus would have walked on these very streets! The beveled stone blocks along the bottom of this photo were laid by Herod the Great.
Our next visit was to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, which the Catholic Church constructed at the most likely site of Jesus' death, burial and resurrection. Though most Biblically-minded Christians would prefer to see these sites in a way that more accurately reflects their original condition, it is important to understand that those who covered them with religious embellishment did so to mark their location and protect them from intrusion. No matter their present condition, it is still amazing and moving to be at the location where Jesus bore our sins and rose from the grave!
The site of the crucifixion:
Here is the symbolic tomb over where it is believed the original tomb was located. It was here that our Savior forever broke the power of sin and death! (Hebrews 2:14)
From here we visited a traditional site for the upper room where Jesus met with his disciples for the Last Supper on the night of His betrayal by Judas. You can read that account in John 13.
One of the unique features of the day was to visit an actual 1st century tomb. Though not the tomb of Jesus, we were able to get a good sense of what His tomb would have been like. Our guide, whose name is Mickey, took some time to explain to our group many of the features of this kind of ancient tomb.
Come forth, Lazarus… I mean, Sue!
Our final stop of the day was to the Museum of Israel, which is a large national museum housing many artifacts from Israel's long history as well as a massive, detailed 1/50th scale model of the city of Jerusalem in the 1st century.
This is also the museum that houses the crucifixion objects I blogged about on Monday… the ankle bone that was discovered with the nail through it, and the ossuary box of Caiphas. We were also able to get a glimpse at a few of the Dead Sea Scrolls which were discovered in the caves at Qumran, a site we visited just yesterday. How awesome to have hand-written copies of God's Word from 2200 years ago, before Christ was on Earth!
OK- enough for now. Still two more days of touring left!