Day 08 - Jerusalem: Herodium, Johnny's (shopping), Pool of Bethesda, St. Anne's Church, Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Via Dolorosa
We boarded our bumble bee-looking bus out for our last day of teachings. It was such a beautiful drive on the way over. Some of us remembered and pondered a teaching from yesterday as we drove. For it was only but yesterday that we reached the top of the Mount of Olives where Pastor Bob spoke. Tensions were high in the city as people chose their lambs and prepared to celebrate the Passover. As Jesus approached the city, he wept because the people did not truly understand that He was the True Lamb. He was the final sacrifice. We have a choice in whom we follow, may we always choose Christ. The story of Christ comes full circle as 40 days after His death and resurrection, Jesus was surrounded by His disciples as they all returned to the Mount of Olives. As Jesus ascended into Heaven, Jesus promised to send the power of the Holy Spirit to those who truly love Him. This teaching and remembrance was so fresh in our hearts that it set us up for what was yet to come today.
We made it to Herodium. This place is fascinating, and it changes all the time as they find more. This palace has a lower and upper level to it. This is the Herod who has all the boys 2 years old and under killed because of a perceived threat to his kingdom. He was said to defy nature, but he couldn’t deny the Messiah! God has allowed two contrasting figures for humanity to see and choose from – a king who displays power by money, buildings, sex, and tyrant authority, while Jesus who is the King of Kings who had all power but displayed meekness, instead of giving orders he displayed love. We know people who are following a Herod kingdom lifestyle, but we are called to abandon sin and the wicked desires of the heart that lead to temptation (James 1). Pastor Marshall asked if anyone has worked on their 3-, 5-, or 10-minute stories and Gary quickly said he has and proceeded to share. Gary shared a sweet and transparent life overview and then talked on the importance of the insula with this group and said he still has more to write. Marshall mentioned that our stories are still being written as we live this life. Imagine if Herod would have used all of his vision and intellect for the Kingdom of God! Imagine if you use all of yours. We climbed up 127 stone original steps and continued up 35 new ones as we made it to the top palace courtyard. It was amazing.
We went to Johnny’s for lunch and shopping. We sat at three tables that had six plates of goodness on them. One plate had hummus, another olive oil, a third, spices, cream cheese covered with date honey, chocolate, and goat cheese with oil. Then they brought out their version of bagels to us. They were huge! They were in the shape of a long racetrack that was bigger than the circumference of your face. That’s a lot of bread for one person to eat. By the way, we had bread served to us every day and they were large portions. We tried to not take it all, but ---- well be kind to us if we return a little more “rounded” then when we left. Johnny’s gift shop was amazing. A portion of what we spent goes back into the Christian community to bless families and churches. It was a privilege to shop and donate here.
We made our way through the congested traffic on our way to our final sites that included the Pool of Bethesda, singing inside St. Anne's Church (attached video) that had a sign that said “Silence please! Except for singing,” then we walked the Via Dolorosa, went to the Sepulchre (Church), seen the potential spot where Jesus was crucified, and ate dinner at Panoramic Golden City before heading back to the hotel. On our way Marshall used the bus microphone to teach us on the 14 stations of the cross. After getting off the bus we made our way to the Pool of Bethesda.
Marshall taught in front of the Pool of Bethesda, the place where the lame mane was healed. This pool is 60 feet deep. In the Roman time there was a supposed healing god named Asclclepius that reacted to water. Pastor Marshall quoted Charlie Dyer. “The depth of the pool makes me wonder what happens to the second person in the water.” Ray read John 5:1-15. Sometimes Jesus asks us a question that seems like, “of course I do,” but in reality, we want to stay in our condition because it’s all we know. To be healed means I cannot complain anymore… I must be different. Notice that Jesus doesn’t do anything with the water. Some people are at the wrong pool looking for healing. Some people are at the wrong conclusions of obtaining eternal life, it can only come from Jesus Christ. There may be things that we are waiting for Jesus to heal, but maybe the Lord wants you endure it long enough to that you come out better on the other side.
We then walked the Via Dolorosa. These would be the final steps and stations of Jesus from trial to tomb. The journey was powerful to say the least. Marshall discussed the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea and illustrated where the most likely place of Jesus’s burial. He went into more details about the process of crucifixion and stated Jews couldn’t crucify, only Romans could. Almost all crucifixion would have been at eye-level, and as cruel as possible. Mark 15 Darkness comes over the earth and Jesus cries out, “My God my God, why have forsaken me” -Psalm 22. We managed our way inside of the church in which holds the potential spot where Jesus had fallen on his way carrying the cross. We then went downstairs where Marshall did his final teaching and pointed out we were at the most likely of spots where Jesus was in fact nailed to the cross and died for our sins. This journey will most likely remain in our hearts and minds for the rest of our lives. After a wonderful final dinner together we boarded the bus and headed back to the hotel.
We finished our time in a conference room back at the hotel. We blessed Ronen and Eli for their amazing service to us these past days. Pastor Bob prayed over them. Afterwards Pastor Marshall and Pastor Bob gave a ten-question quiz. They gave away two gifts to everyone. Pastor Marshall blessed Pastor Bob and Barb. PC was asked to share a few words to them and then prayed for this Power Couple. A few people shared their thoughts, responses, and appreciation for the time spent in the Holy Land. Our night has drawn to a close.
Well, the only thing left to do is pack up, sleep, and fly out tomorrow morning. Our trip has been the most splendid of times, and utterly amazing, but the author of this blog is ready to return to his beloved for he misses her dearly. I will see you soon!
To all of the participants and all of you back home following our journey we sign off for our final time – Shalom and many Blessings!