A Travellerspoint blog

Day 13

Temple Mount, Bethesda, Via Delarosa, Garden Tomb

Today was our final day with Hanna - our most excellent tour guide in Israel. She is a wonderful lady and we have been so blessed to have her. Her knowledge of scripture is amazing.

When we got to the gate to go to the Temple Mount, a number of Jewish boys were there with their families to celebrate their bar mitzva. A special thing to have witnessed.

On the way to the Temple Mount you look over the Wailing Wall. As we watched those coming to pray, there were large wooden boxes. Hanna advised that these were The Holy Ark, which store bible scrolls.

The Temple Mount is where Abraham brought his son Isaac to be slaughtered, Mount Moriah. So much of Jerusalem speaks to me of the cost of following Jesus, but when you consider his sacrifice, you cannot but want to give your life to his cause. I think of the words:

“Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were an offering far too small,
Love so amazing, so divine
Demands my soul, my life, my all.”

Israel is a complicated place politically and this is intensified in Jerusalem and especially on the Temple Mount. You could feel the tension.

The oldest Muslim shrine in the world is on the Temple Mount. 300,000 people come to the Temple Mount for holy days. This gives us an idea of the numbers who could gather in the temple in the days of Jesus.

Neither the Muslims or the Jews will allow excavation on the Temple Mount.

Our next stop was the Bethesda Pools. Bethesda means House of Mercy. This is where Jesus healed the lame man. One of only 2 miracles performed in Jerusalem.

The Church of Anne is on the grounds and a group were in there singing, ‘I exalt Thee’ as we walked past. That song always gets me, every time. Just beautiful.

The Church of St Anne is the only Church of the Crusaders in Jerusalem not destroyed by Muslims.

After leaving the Bethesda Pools, we commenced on the Via Delarosa. The way of suffering. The actual route is not known for sure. However, where we walked today is in close vicinity. As Hanna commented, we would have been within 200 metres of the route either side. Quite a sobering thought. I would have preferred to do it in silence, but you cannot stop the world from carrying on around you.

There are 14 stations of the cross on the Via Delorosa.

On route, we stopped at a convent and sat at the level of 2,000 years ago. There are markings on the stone, believed to be games played by Roman Soldiers. It is pretty cool looking at all of these things from so long ago and picturing life as it was.

Here we sang, ‘Were you there when they crucified my Lord.’

We then continued on the Via Dolorosa. The path of condemnation and suffering. The words of Jim Elliot came to my mind, ‘ He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep, to gain what he cannot lose.’

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is believed to be the place where Jesus was crucified and buried. We were able to touch the stone where it is believed the cross was placed. Many Protestant christians say that it is not necessary to touch things described by some as ‘relics’. I personally find that it can be a personal expression of surrender and a sacred moment. So, I did.

As I did, the words of Horacio Spafford’s hymn flooded into my mind:

“My sin, o the bliss
Of this glorious thought
My sin, not in part but the whole
Is nailed to the cross
And I bear it no more
Praise the Lord
Praise the Lord o my soul”

We then had lunch and wandered through the market.

Our last stop for the day was the Garden Tomb. Another place where it is believed Jesus was crucified and buried. There is a rock formation that in the early 1920’s looked like a skull. Golgotha, meaning place of the skull. This was damaged in bad weather years ago and does not look the same.

Either way, I am not concerned with whether it was the church of the Holy Sepulchre or the Garden Tomb. I am just grateful to God that He sent His son for us and Jerusalem is where it all took place.

This has been a most wonderful pilgrimage and I am grateful I have done it. The official Jerusalem pilgrimage is over. Tomorrow we are doing an archaeological visit and walking through Hezekiah’s tunnels and Saturday is a free day. Sunday, we head to Jordan.

As we said goodbye to Hanna, she called me her young, fun, Australian friend...

Posted by Cruicksie 06:50 Archived in Israel

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