We spent the day orienting ourselves around Jerusalem. At the risk of gross understatement, an amazing experience. We started on the Shepherd’s Fields overlooking Bethlehem. I was struck by how humble the little town is in contrast to Jerusalem. And by through events that happened right there 2000 years ago, God became like us (ordinary) so that we could become like Him (extraordinary). It was hard not to spontaneously break out into some Carols… Joy to the world,
Then it was off to Jerusalem where we visited the Western Wall, also known as the Wailing Wall. The impressive monument is the actual remains of the retaining wall of the temple expanded by Herod the Great that Jesus would have walked in. It is also the holiest site in Judaism, and it was an amazing sight to see the hundreds of people praying at the wall.
Caiphus’ house was another interesting spot. This was the residence of the High Priest and the place where Jesus spent the last night alive before his crucifixion. It has a dungeon pit in it, a likely spot for where he spent the rest of the night after his mock trial. No I wasn’t there when they crucified my Lord, but it feels a lot more real now.
We had lunch in the Jewish quarter of the walled city (it’s like one of the walled cities you see in medieval time movies except much older). There’s also an Armenian quarter, Christian quarter and Muslim quarter. Talk about a complicated city!
In the evening we took a walking tour through a tunnel that was dug under the temple mount. It goes beneath the Dome of the Rock mosque and along the remains of the original wall of the temple (Jesus’ era). Through occassional glass-covered pits, you could see down many feet to see different layers of the city. Oh yes, I forgot to mention, Jerusalem is like an onion – with many different layers. If I remember correctly, it’s been conquered by 39 different regimes and been rebuilt after destruction 17 times! To see the rocks of the Jesus era temple, we had to go many feet underground, but apparently, the original city of David is around 150feet beneath where we got to!
Okay, you get the picture; an amazing city all around.