Mount of Olives and the Old City
Today was our first full day in Jerusalem. We began by going to the top of the Mount of Olives and looking over the Mount and the Eastern Wall of the Old City of Jerusalem. Scott helped us see where Jesus most likely stayed while He was here in Jerusalem, and what gate in which He most likely entered, the Sheep's Gate (Lion's Gate). We also learned that Gethesemene is a thing, not the name of a place! It is a huge olive press, and one is located on the Mount of Olives where Jesus and his disciples stayed while in Jerusalem.
Mount of Olives
Separated from the Eastern Hill (the Temple Mount and the City of David) by the Kidron Valley, the Mt. of Olives has always been an important feature in Jerusalem’s landscape. From the 3rd millennium B.C. until the present, this 2900-foot hill has served as one of the main burial grounds for the city. The two-mile long ridge has three summits each of which has a tower built on it.
From there, we went down to where Jesus' prayers to God in the garden are remembered. While not sure of the exact location, many people believe that it could have occurred in this location because of the age of the trees. Some of these trees were THOUSANDS of years old and still growing! We took some time to reflect, worship, read Scripture, and pray remembering what happened that night that Jesus prayed in the garden.
We went from there to the Eastern Gate, then on in to the Old City through the Sheep's gate several yards down on the Eastern Wall. From there, we went to St. Anne's Church and sang several songs together such as Amazing Grace, Hallelujah, Old Rugged Cross, and Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus. It was beautiful and amazing to hear what our 17 voices could do in that place! From there we saw the pool of Bethesda, where we talked about how we must want healing just like the man to whom Jesus asked, "Do you want to be healed?"
From there we began a journey remembering the torture, crucifixion, burial, and resurrection of Christ. We began by visiting the Church of the Flagellation where the brutal whipping of Jesus is remembered. Then we moved on to the Via Dolorosa ending at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. There we saw the tomb from where Jesus arose, and also visited a quarry in the same building that would have been directly under where Jesus was crucified.
After this journey, we headed to Bethlehem where we wrapped up the day by supporting a Christian brother by shopping at his shop, eating some fantastic shawarma, and visiting the Church of the Nativity where we remembered the birth of Christ. After a quick break at the hotel, we ate at a great Armenian restaurant and, thanks to Scott and Cathi, saw a wonderful show on the walls of Herod's palace there in the Old City depicting the story of Jerusalem! What a great way to end the day!
By Brian Gunter
Biblical scholars believe Bethlehem, located in the "hill country" of Judah, may be the same as the Biblical Ephrath which means "fertile", as there is a reference to it in the Book of Micah as Bethlehem Ephratah. The Bible also calls it Beth-Lehem Judah,and the New Testament describes it as the "City of David". It is first mentioned in the Bible as the place where the matriarch Rachel died and was buried "by the wayside" (Gen. 48:7). Rachel's Tomb, the traditional grave site, stands at the entrance to Bethlehem. According to the Book of Ruth, the valley to the east is where Ruth of Moab gleaned the fields and returned to town with Naomi. It was the home of Jesse, father of King David of Israel, and the site of David's anointment by the prophet Samuel. It was from the well of Bethlehem that three of his warriors brought him water when he was hiding in the cave of Adullam.
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