DAY 11 – TUESDAY, MAY 14: JERUSALEM, MT. OF OLIVES, OLD CITY, VIA DOLOROSA, HERODIUM, BETHLEHEM
Today was the warmest day yet, with sunny skies and highs in the low 90s. The visibility was still clear though. It was a great first day here in Jerusalem.
Mt. of Olives
Leaving the hotel again at 7:30, we drove around the Old City of Jerusalem, crossed the Kidron Valley, and ascended to the Mt. of Olives. The view from the top was spectacular! Looking westward, we could see the Temple Mount (where the 1st and 2nd Temples once stood) and the City of David (OT Jerusalem). The Eastern Gate is mentioned in Ezekiel 44. Further down the slope (at Dominus Flevit), we read from Luke 19 about Jesus’ Palm Sunday entrance into the city. He also wept over Jerusalem. We also read from Zechariah 14 about Christ’s return as King!
Garden of Gethsemane
Walking down the slope further, we entered a private garden and were greeted by Brother Diego. Here we gathered for quiet reflection as we considered what Jesus said (Luke 22) in the Garden of Gethsemane, “Not my will but yours be done…” Jesus was betrayed by Judas here and also bound by Caiaphas the High Priest.
“It was a great first day in Jerusalem today! Seeing the Old City and Temple Mount was exciting, especially when connected to stories from the life of Christ.” -Tour Member-
Entering the Old City through St. Stephen’s Gate (also called Lion’s and Jericho gate), we enjoyed singing in St. Anne’s Church and see the Pools of Bethesda. From here we walked to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, one of two possible sites for the crucifixion and burial site of Jesus. We ate lunch near by in the Christian Quarter.
Leaving the Old City through the Jaffa Gate, we met our bus and drove southeast to Herodium. On the way, we made a brief stop at the new US Embassy in Jerusalem. Arriving at Herodium, we climb to the top of this partially artificial mountain used as a palace-fortress for Herod the Great. The views of Jerusalem (to the north), the Dead Sea & Judean Desert (to the east), Tekoa (to the south), and Bethlehem (to the west) were excellent! We walked down through the water cistern system to leave the site.
Shepherds’ Fields & Bethlehem
In Beit Sahour we made a brief stop at the Shepherds’ Fields. We descended down into a cave where we read from Luke 2. We also talked about the role of the shepherd in the brith story of Jesus. We sang a few carols here in the cave as well as in the Chapel of the Shepherds. In Bethlehem, we visited an olive wood shop and store before driving back to our hotel.
Upon returning to our hotel, we enjoyed dinner and a free evening. Many in the group enjoyed walking to the old train station for some shopping, coffee, and ice cream.