DAY 7 – THURSDAY, OCTOBER 18: MT. OF OLIVES, POOL OF BETHESDA, WESTERN WALL, ISRAEL MUSEUM, YAD VASHEM
Today was our first day in Jerusalem, Israel’s capital. It was an incredible day of engaging in history, culture, and the biblical stories related to the life and ministry of Jesus. The weather was again partly sunny, with highs in the upper 70s.
Mt. of Olives
We started out today from our hotel at 7:30. We drove around the northern part of the Old City, crossed the Kidron Valley, and then we dropped off at the peak of the Mt. of Olives. Here we enjoyed a panoramic view of the Old City and Temple Mount. We walked down the Palm Sunday road to another viewpoint where we read from Luke 19 and Zechariah 14. We rejoiced in the promise of Christ’s return to this place when He will be recognized as the King of kings!
Walking further down the slope, we enter a private part of the Garden of Gethsemane. Brother Diego, a Franciscan priest, offered a warm and tender greeting and an invitation for us to connect with God through silence. Here we read about Jesus’ passion and betrayal by Judas (Luke 22). It was here where Jesus said, “Not my will but yours be done…” We took time to reflect in silence for about 30 minutes.
“Our first full day in Jerusalem today was amazing! It was not only insightful but also emotional. From the Mt. of Olives at the beginning of the day to Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust Museum, the encounters were beyond what words can describe. It is a special privilege and honor to be here today! I still can’t believe I am actually here!”
Following this special time, we walked into the Old City through the St. Stephen’s Gate (also called Lion’s & Jericho Gates) to the St. Anne’s Church and Pools of Bethesda. The singing in this Crusader church was amazing (8 second echo). We also saw the ruins of the Pools of Bethesda here (John 5).
We then walked from here to the Holy Sepulcher Church, a leading location for both the crucifixion and burial of Jesus. While the archaeology supports this site as the area where Jesus was crucified, buried, and rose again, we were reminded that we worship the Person and not the place! Nearby here in the Christian Quarter, we ate lunch.
Leaving the Old City through the Jaffa Gate, we boarded our bus and drove to the Israel Museum. We saw three things here: a fascinating 1:50 scaled-model (giving us a good sense of what Jerusalem looked like in the time of Jesus), the Shrine of the Book (where we saw some of the Dead Sea Scrolls), and the archaeological museum (where we saw the highlights relating to the Bible).
Our last experience was an emotionally difficult one, the Yad Vashem / Holocaust Museum & Memorial. We first heard Shlomo’s family story from Vilna, Poland (he lost 12 family members here). We then walked through the Children’s Memorial and the museum.
We return to our hotel in Jerusalem for dinner and a free evening.