Today we started the day at Israel’s 9/11 Memorial. The 9/11 Living Memorial Plaza is a
monument located on a hill in the Arazim Valley of Ramot, Jerusalem. The plaza was built on 5 acres to remember and honor the victims of the September 11, 2001 attack by Islamic terrorists. Israel is proud that they are the only nation to erect a memorial outside of the US to list the names of the nearly 3000 victims, including five Israelis.
Next we went to the Mt. of Olives, walked down into the Kidron Valley and through the
Garden of Gethsemane. Each of the places are special to a believer. All the Biblical accounts that flow through your mind as you literally walk the areas where Jesus taught, prayed agonized and was taken by the soldiers to be crucified. It is almost an overload as you try and comprehend why a God would do that. Yet the answer is simple. Jesus paid a price that we could not pay to reconcile us to him. He loved us that much.
While we were there we went to the Tomb of the Prophets. Tradition is that this is the tomb of Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi. A large tomb was dug into the ground and has burial sites for the prophets and their followers. At the bottom of the hewn stone staircase a caretaker hands you a candle, gives you a brief history of the tomb and then you can explore to your heart's content.
From there we boarded our travel coach and crossed the Kidron Valley to enter the old city of Jerusalem. We walked down to the Eastern Gate or Glorious Gate of the city. The Eastern Gate faces the Mt. Of Olives from the other side of the Kidron Valley. This gate gives the most direct access to what would have been the area of the Temple. This would be the gate that Jesus came through as he exited the city going to the Garden of Gethsemane, the Mount of Olives or perhaps heading to Bethany to have dinner with Mary, Martha and Lazarus. In 1541 the Ottoman Sultan Suleiman sealed the gate, started a Muslim cemetery in front of the gate and thought that would prevent the return of Jesus. That’s not going to work.
We then went to the Lion’s Gate and entered the old city to see the ruins of the pool of
Bethesda. I am sure you are familiar with the account in John 5 of Jesus healing a lame
man. This man had “an infirmity thirty and eight years” when Jesus walked by. Jesus
looking on this man recognized his plight and healed him. Thirty eight years he had been
lame and instantly he picked up his bed and walked. Jesus changed his life that day and he can change yours.
While in the vicinity of the Pool of Bethesda we went into St. Annes church. This church is known for great acoustics. Inside we sang “it is Well.” Wow, what a great sound.
Exiting back through the Lion’s Gate we boarded the Israel Express and went around the
city and made a stop at the “House of Caiaphas.” We were able to see the dungeon that
Jesus was kept in as they decided what to do and how to carry out their treachery. Standing outside the house and seeing the actual steps that led from the Garden of Gethsemane up to the House of Caiaphas, I realized that Jesus made that journey willingly. He had to make it to the cross to give his life for you and I. What a Savior!
As we left the “House of Caiaphas” we headed to the “Upper Room.” While the upper room that held the last supper was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD this is believed to be on or near the same site. I was privileged to speak there and I read from John 14. Jesus wanted us to not be troubled. Jesus wanted us to know that those who believe in him have a place in his Father’s House. Jesus wanted us to know the only way to salvation comes through him. I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes to the Father, but by me.
Our last stop of the day was at the Garden Tomb. Here we saw the crucifixion site and went into the tomb where Jesus was buried. It is empty! Jesus overcame death so that we may have life. Finished the day with communion. We did in remembrance of him.
The land of YHWH. Thankful to be here. Thankful for you.
Gary W. Hall, Pastor of Mt. Olivet Baptist Church.