DAY 7 – SATURDAY, JUNE 22: JERUSALEM: MT. OF OLIVES, OLD CITY, GETHSEMANE, HERODIUM, BETHLEHEM
Today was our first full day in Jerusalem. We enjoyed the sunny and yet cooler temps, with highs in the 80s. The refreshing breeze made it perfect!
Mt. of Olives / Garden of Gethsemane
We left our hotel at 7:30 this morning and drove around the northern side of the Old City to the top of the Mt. of Olives. What an incredible view of the Temple Mount, the City of David, and the Old City from here! Outside a chapel called Dominus Flevit (“the Lord weeps”), we read from Luke 19 and Zechariah 14 about Jesus’ kingship. One day He will return and the Mt. of Olives will split into two and Jesus will be proclaimed King over all the earth!
Walking down the western slope of the Mt. of Olives, we sat in an area of the Garden of Gethsemane. We read from Luke 22 and considered Jesus’ words, “Not my will but yours be done.” Jesus was betrayed by Judas here.
Pool of Bethesda / St. Anne’s Church
From here we walked to the Old City. Before entering we visited the Eastern Gate. Ezekiel 44 mentions that the Messiah will enter this gate when He comes. Within the Old City we visited the Pools of Bethesda. Jesus healed a paralyzed man here (John 5). The lower ruins date to Jesus’ day. On the same grounds is the St. Anne’s Church. We sang a few songs in this Crusader Church that has an 8 second echo. We sounded like a heavenly choir!
“Jerusalem was amazing today! From the view of the city from the Mt. of Olives, to seeing where Jesus may have been crucified and buried added real depth to my faith and a better understanding of Jesus.” -Tour Member-
Holy Sepulcher Church
We walked through the Muslim and Christian Quarters on the traditional Via Dolorosa (“way of the cross”). While archaeological suggests this way of the cross came from the opposite direction, we ended at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. This was a church built in 325 AD and it preserves one of two possible locations for the crucifixion and burial site of Jesus. Close by we ate lunch.
We walked out of the Old City through the Jaffa Gate in order to meet David and the bus. We drove about 8 miles southeast to the edge of the Judean Desert to yet another one of Herod’s fortress-palaces, Herodium. Herod died in Jericho and yet was buried here in 4 BC. Many in the group climbed this “artificial mountain” where we gained an excellent view of the area. To the east was the Judean Desert and Dead Sea. To the south was Tekoa. To the north was Jerusalem. And to the west was Bethlehem. We descended down through the cistern system.
Shepherds’ Fields / Bethlehem
We ended the day be visiting the Shepherds’ Fields. We descended down into a cave where we considered the role of the shepherd. We read from Micah 2 and 5 and Luke 2. We sang a few carols and rejoiced in the face that “just at the right time God sent His Son…” (Galatians 4:4). We also sang carols on the small chapel along with a group from Nigeria. Finally, we drove into Bethlehem to an olive wood factory and store.
We drove back to our hotel for dinner followed by a free evening. It was a great first day here in Jerusalem!