I actually finished one more, but this will be it for the day.
June 7th, 2012
Today was probably the day everyone has been waiting for and it certainly lived up to the hype. First we stopped at the Mount of Olives. Already, the fact that we could go to this place was amazing. The views of Jerusalem from up there were absolutely beautiful but the more beautiful thing was the context. While at the Mount of Olives, we were given time to hear some scripture regarding Jesus and his disciples finishing the Last Supper and coming over to the mountain. I got to reflect on what it meant that Jesus had actually been in the place that I was now worshiping at and it blew my mind. Still, this was just the beginning of the amazing sights we would see that day.
Next we went down to a church called ‘Dominus Flevit’ which commemorated the place where Jesus wept over Jerusalem. From there we went down to the Garden of Gethsemane and the Church of All Nations and that was such an amazing experience. The garden proved smaller than I thought it would be but it was more beautiful than I had imagined. It was also closer to the Mount of Olives than I thought it would be, which was surprising. The Church of All Nations was a nice addition added a few hundred years after the life of Jesus, commemorating the location.
The next sight was by far the most moving for me, but not necessarily for what was there. The location was called “The Garden Tomb” and it was another possible location for Calvary and the tomb of Jesus. The reasoning behind this location for Calvary goes as follows: One day a man looked out the window from his room and noticed a rock face that looked like a skull. Remember, Calvary is the Latin for Golgotha, which means ‘place of the skull’. He determined that this must be the location of Jesus’ death.
After a while, he found more corroborating evidence for his conclusion. He found a Jewish 1st century-era tomb nearby that could have once held a body. From this, “The Garden Tomb” sight was built in Israel.
At this sight, the most striking thing for me was the sign outside of the door of the tomb. It referenced the story of Jesus’ resurrection where the angel says, ‘He is not here’. For me that was monumental. It’s easy to walk around these sights and expect to somehow “find” Jesus here but the whole point of the sights is to remember that he’s not there. That has definitely changed the way I’ll look out the other sights we’ll see for the rest of the trip.
Finally, we went to Bethlehem after stopping by Herodium. In Bethlehem we went to the Church of the Nativity which commemorates Jesus’ birth. The church is actually built over the possible place of his birth so that was pretty amazing to see.