Triumph over death
Today was a very exciting day, our first visit was The Mount of Olives. This Mount is facing Jerusalem and is a ridge running along the east side of Jerusalem. People also can see the separation from the city walls. This was a site of many important events in the Bible. It is very excited how you can see the city of David from the Mount. The Bible records Jesus’ visiting the Mount of Olives three times in the last week of His earthly life, and each time something of significance happened. The first visit was to deliver what has come to be known as the Olivet Discourse. Jesus’ second visit is what we call the triumphal entry. The donkey Jesus rode that day was found in Bethany and Bethphage, on the east side of the Mount of Olives. Jesus’ third visit during the week of His Passion was on the night He was betrayed. That evening began with the Last Supper in Jerusalem and ended in the Garden of Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives. We also had the opportunity to see the cemetery that is one of the oldest Jewish cemeteries in the world and Jerusalem's oldest functioning cemetery, the Mount of Olives Cemetery has been used for the burial of Jews for thousands of years. What privilege for us to this great experience during this visit on the Mount of Olives. During our day, we had the opportunity to talk about the Broad Wall. The Broad Wall was built during Hezekiah’s expansion of the city. Jews from the northern tribes of Israel, who had been overrun by the Assyrians in 721 BC, migrated down to Judah and the city of Jerusalem for protection at this time. Our last stop of the day was at church of the Holy sepulcher. This site of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher here is identified as the place both crucifixion and the tomb of Jesus of Nazareth. We believe that according to the New Testament, Jesus was crucified at Golgotha, “the place of the skull” Matt 27:33-35.
After anticipation that rivaled a child's before Christmas, I finally stepped into the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the holiest sight in Christendom. This Church is THE reason that I travelled to the Land Between, and words cannot describe my awe and reverence.
Tradition holds that Helena, mother of Constantine, found two crosses upon this site, which would have been outside of the city walls at the time of Jesus' crucifixion. Archaeological evidence supports the history of veneration that has taken place here, as evidence of first century burial can be viewed in a small cave on the edge of the Armenian chapel. While no one knows for certain, these are regarded as the most probable sites of Christ's crucifixion, burial, and resurrection, all of which are contained within the walls of the church.
As I knelt at the traditional site of His crucifixion, emotions welled up that defy description. He died to save sinners, among whom I am chief. Later, as I knelt in the tiny tomb, I gave thanks for His ultimate triumph over death. The tomb is empty; He is not there. He is risen to save all who proclaim Him as Lord and Savior!
Today God blessed me to descend the Mt. of Olives as apart of the G.R.T.S. study tour. Studying aboard in Israel has changed my life, by affording me the opportunity to gain both head and heart knowledge. As a student I visited three churches, and a empty sepulcher. I learned too many facts to list. However, I will say that the Mt. Olives gets its name from the Olive trees considered by some to be the oldest in Israel, eight of which are called the silent witnesses to Jesus' prayers at the place of his betrayal. The first church we saw was a tear shaped church half way down the descent called Dominus Flavit. The name is referring to Jesus weeping over the city of Jerusalem. MY HEART said to my head I wish all churches had the aforementioned Latin name. The second church we visited was at the Garden of Gethsemane which means oil press. As a born again believer ,serving as a pastor, I imagined Jesus as a shepherd leading us to his gate and I prayed we would all accept the pressing to receive the oil (anointing). Finally, the third church was that of the Holy Sepulcher. It is empty and he is risen indeed. My heartfelt thanks to those who made this once in a lifetime learning possible.
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