DAY 8 – SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 10: MT. OF OLIVES, POOL OF BETHESDA, VIA DOLOROSA, HERODIUM, BETHLEHEM
Today was our first of three days in Jerusalem! The weather was once again sunny, with a little cooler temps (highs around 65). Everywhere you turn here in Israel’s capital you connect somehow with the Bible.
Mt. of Olives
Leaving out hotel around 7:30, we drove around the Old City to the top of the Mt. of Olives. On the eastern side of this mountain range are the biblical cities of Bethany (the home of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, John 11) and Bethpage. But our first stop was to look westward, providing us a panoramic view of the Old City and Temple Mount of Jerusalem! It was incredible! As we walked down to Dominus Flavet, the traditional place where Jesus wept over Jerusalem after His Palm Sunday entrance (Luke 19). In front of us was the Eastern Gate. Closed since 810 AD, Ezekiel 44 says that when the Messiah comes (again for us) He will walk through this gate (it also could be the gate discovered in 1969 below this current gate, or it also could be a gate associated with the new Temple). We also read from Zechariah 14 about Christ’s return, and how the Mt. of Olives will split into two! And the world will all recognize Jesus as the King of kings and Lord of lords. In God’s perfect and sovereign timing, all of this will unfold! Praise God!
Garden of Gethsemane
From here we went to a place on the northern end of the Mt. Of Olives. Surrounded by olive trees, we took the time to reflect upon Jesus’ passion in the Garden of Gethsemane. Although it could have been anywhere along this western slope of the Mt. of Olives, we read from Luke 22 about Jesus’ passion and eventual betrayal by Judas. Jesus’ words echoed into our hearts, “Not my will, but Yours be done.” Jesus came and fulfilled Isaiah 53 through the cross!
“Words cannot even come close to expressing the level of awe in seeing Jerusalem and the Temple Mount today! Just to think Jesus spent a lot of time while here in Jerusalem in the Temple Courts. To think of the level of His passion displayed at the Garden of Gethsemane is equally incredible.” – Tour Member –
Walking into the Old City through the St. Stephen’s gate (also called Lion’s and Jericho gate), we visited St. Anne’s Crusader church. We enjoyed singing here with the 8 second echo. On the same grounds of the church are the Pools of Bethesda (“house of mercy”). We remembered John 5 about Jesus healing the paralytic here.
Walking the traditional Via Dolorosa, our destination was the Holy Sepulcher church. Built in 325 AD, this church probably preserves at least the area for the crucifixion and burial of Jesus. Because of the massive crowds, we did not make it into the church (we’ll plan on making this an option on Monday). We enjoyed lunch together in the Christian Quarter of the Old City.
Leaving the Old City through the Jaffa Gate, we drove south to Herodium. This was yet another palace-fortress of Herod the Great. It was here where his tomb was found about 10 years ago now. Climbing the site enabled us to see in all directions, and the visibility and clearness of the air was remarkable!! To the north is Jerusalem; to the west is Bethlehem; to the south is Tekoa; and to the east is the Judean Desert and the Dead Sea. We left the site by walking down through the cistern system.
The day ended with a brief visit to the Shepherds’ Fields and Bethlehem. We read from Luke 2 and Galatians 4:4 and celebrated that “just at the right time God sent His Son…” We also enjoyed singing a few carols in the chapel (again, with great acoustics!). We joined a small group of African women in the singing a few additional carols. In Bethlehem we enjoyed an olive wood store. We drove back to our hotel for dinner and a free night.