DAY 9 – TUESDAY, JUNE 25
We start the day with an orientation of Jerusalem from the Mt. of Olives. Driving to the top, we enjoyed the spectacular view of the Old City and Temple Mount below. From here we can relate to hat the psalmist said, “As the mountains surrounded Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds His people” (Psalm 125). From here on the top, we began our descent down the traditional Palm Sunday route to the church known as the Dominus Flevit (“the Lord weeps”). From here the Eastern Gate really comes into focus (Ezekiel 44). We read not only the Palm Sunday passage (Luke 19), but also from Zechariah 14 about the prophecy of Christ’s return. Further down the slope Gethsemane where we take time to meditate on the Gospel text of Christ’s passion. We spent some quiet moments considering the will of Christ to do the will of His Father. We also visited the Church of All Nations, the traditional location where Christ prayed.
From here we enter the Old City where we first visited the Pools of Bethesda and St. Anne’s Church. The church itself is perfectly preserved from the Crusader period, and with remarkable acoustics. We then followed the Way of the Cross (Via Dolorosa) to the Holy Sepulcher, stopping along the way to consider all what Christ endured on his way to His crucifixion (Holy Seplechure Church). Before leaving the Old City, we enjoyed lunch in the Christian Quarter.
In the afternoon, we drove southeast about 10 miles to visit Herodium, the fortress built by King Herod located on the edge of the Judean Desert. It was here that Herod, who reigned from 37 – 4 BC, was buried. His tomb was found only 2 years ago by the late Ehud Netzer. We ended the day by driving into Bethlehem. We first reflected on the perfect timing of God sending His Son (Galatians 4:4) and sang carols in one of the caves of the Shepherds’ Field. We then visited an olive wood shop, followed by a brief visit to the Church of the Nativity. Because of the lack of groups visiting, we were able to see the grotto in the cave below the front of the church here traditionally Christ was born.