Saturday, July 5, 2014

Our Last Day in Jerusalem

          Stepping off the bus, we were greeted by men selling postcards and jewelry. This did not deter us from looking above the crowd, across the valley to the view of the city. There it was, just as we have seen in pictures, the iconic view of the old city of Jerusalem, with the golden dome, the ancient stonewall and the Temple Mount.
View from the Mount of Olives.
           As we stepped onto the famous Mount of Olives, our guide found the photographer and gathered us for a group picture, “Goliaths in the back. Zacchaeuses in the front,” he instructed. Just as he arranged us the way he wanted, with the beautiful old city behind us, an Arab man, in full robe and headdress, walked toward us from the right, leading a saddled camel,
TAXI!  Anyone call for a TAXI to Jerusalem!” he shouted out.
            Startled, half of our group turned to look at the unusual site. CLICK! Our photo was snapped, and our memory of this amazing trip would forever have half of our group looking to the right at the oncoming camel taxi. Hysterical!
Camel kiss. He is a professional. Don't try this at home.

Our 2014 group - half looking to the right at the camel taxi.
With our Israeli guide, Yoni, on the Mount of Olives.

          We followed one after the other, through the throng of visitors, all taking pictures and gazing in the same direction toward the city. Our group found a semi-circle seating area, so we could sit facing the magnificent view and listen to Vince recount the spiritual and historical significance of this place. This being the very mountain where Jesus crossed from, on a donkey, through the now sealed Eastern Gate, with the crowd waving palm branches and yelling “Hosanna! Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!”  Jesus taught on this mountain. (Matthew 24:3) After He was resurrected, He ascended up to heaven from this mountain. (Acts 1) This is the very place He will return. (Zechariah 14:4)
           Our group ended our time by singing these words by Chris Tomlin:
Jesus Messiah, name above all names
Blessed Redeemer, Emmanuel
The rescue for sinners, the ransom from Heaven
Jesus Messiah, Lord of all.
            After plenty of photos were snapped, we trekked down the steep paved mountain, on the path Jesus would have taken to the Garden of Gethsemane. The two thousand year old olive trees were fenced off, but still enabled us to imagine Jesus asking his disciples to stay awake and pray for Him, on that terrible night when He was betrayed.
 Old olive trees in the Garden of Gethsemane.
          We walked down to the street level and our bus took us to the unearthed house of Caiaphas, the high priest during Jesus time. We stepped down on stone stairs into a small prison cell. This is where Jesus was held on the night before He was crucified.
Somberly, we read Isaiah 53:
“He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities, the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him.”
             Imagining our sinless Savior sitting in this very cell, knowing His horrific crucifixion awaited Him, was humbling.
Holes in the stone where prisoner's hands were chained.

On a previous trip, sitting in the dungeon cell where Jesus was held.
            Our last stop for the day was in the garden where a rich man’s empty tomb sat open. We could see a place in the rock that looked like a skull, from where we sat in the garden. Old olive trees surrounded us. There was a reverence and quietness in the garden, blocking out the crowded streets outside. We were there late in the afternoon, and amazingly, our group was mostly alone, as we went into the cave tomb carved out of the side of the hill.
The Lord's Supper at the Garden Tomb.

He is not here. He is risen just as He said.

            Thinking about all Jesus suffered for us, to take the penalty for our sin, so we could have a relationship with God, and know we are going to heaven, caused a hushed wonder. We prayed as we took the Lord’s Supper together. The only way to end our time was to worship Him singing:
We Believe (by the Newsboys)
We believe in God the Father. We believe in Jesus Christ. We believe in the Holy Spirit and he’s given us new life.
We believe in the crucifixion. We believe that He conquered death.
We believe in the resurrection and He’s coming back again.
We believe.
            It was an amazing trip to an amazing country. Walking where Jesus walked, seeing the things He saw, brought us closer to Him. It is like when you visit your spouse’s hometown, where they grew up, you leave knowing them in a deeper way.
          If you have been to Israel, what is your favorite memory? If you haven’t been, which place would you most like to see?

 Thank you for following this virtual tour of Israel. If you missed a day, you can start here for Day 1.
Sign in the garden of the empty tomb .


  1. I wanna see it all! WIth you all as guides!!! Thank your for sahring such beautiful pictures and stories!

  2. Come with us next time Michele!