March 15, 2015
This was the day we woke up in Jerusalem! It’s located in the tops of the Judean Mountain range about 3,000 feet above sea level, 38 miles from the Mediterranean and 14 miles from the Dead Sea. This day was jam-packed full of places! First up, the Mount of Olives.
At the Mount of Olives you can see a Jewish cemetery which is the largest and oldest Jewish cemetery in the world and dates back to Biblical times! The Jews believe the final judgment and resurrection will take place here. The Palm Sunday Path located to the left when you look down from the Mount of Olives. This is the traditional road most believe Jesus traveled as He made His Triumphal entry into Jerusalem (Luke 19:28).
Below is the view from the top of the Mount of Olives looking down on the Jewish cemetery.
Once we walked down the steep and curvy road from the Mount of Olives we landed at the Garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36-56; Luke 22:39-53). This was unforgettable! We were taken to a more private part of the garden and Mollie Duddleston led our devotional from this spot. We were then given 10 or so minutes to sit throughout the area and pray with our spouses. Below is the private courtyard we were praying in and under almost every tree there were couples from our team praying! Breathtaking!
As we left the Garden of Gethsemane we went to, what is called, Lion’s Gate, also known as St. Stephen’s Gate. It is called St. Stephen’s Gate because tradition has it that Stephen was stoned near this entrance (Acts 7:54-60). After passing through this gate we moved on to the Pool of Bethesda (John 5:1-16).
When you hear “Antonia Fortress” you probably have no idea what it means. I didn’t. But today this site is called the Sisters of Zion Convent. This convent is built over the pavement area of Pilate’s Courtyard where Jesus was condemned to the cross (Matthew 27:2, 11-31). This is the road Jesus would have walked on to the cross! Take that in. Even today, on Maudy Thursday it’s hard to grasp we were on that road! From this road that’s underground now under the convent Pastor Floyd led us in a special time of prayer. We were challenged to think about our journey to the cross. It is also ironic that as we are walking back up from this holy place we start to hear the Islam call to prayer. Christ was mocked in this place and He is still mocked today.
Our tour ended from here. We went back to our hotel, had dinner at a New York Style pizza place down the road from our hotel.