Monday, March 7, 2016

In Jerusalem

Jerusalem is such a fascinating city. Full of unique sights, sounds, things to touch and feel, and even smell, it burrows under your skin in a way that makes you want to stay much longer than you're planning to.

The problem is, it's SO full of these wonders that it makes it hard to capture in a few words or pictures, just how meaningful it is to be in the city that Jesus loved and wept over.

At the end of this first full day in the city, I'm nearly at a loss for how to express anything.

Jerusalem is a never-ending feast for the eyes, a microcosm of the world. You see people of all nations here, including, of course, the Jewish people. Some of the Jews are more recognizable than others, such as the man I caught praising God as he passed by us during our first morning stop as we began our walk through the city.

The whole city is one big archeological sight, some active and others still buried beneath all those who live here.

Some sights are deeply meaningful, like the Mount of Olives. We sat in a quiet corner of the garden while Dave taught through the agony of Christ, where he prayed in Gethsemane before going to the cross.

THIS PLACE. Jesus was right here amongst the olive trees praying, "My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away, may your will be done." 

I'm undone by his willingness to suffer death, for me.

From other vantage points you get sprawling vistas of this place where so much history has occurred.

Later in the day we entered through a small door, climbed stairs and came to the roof of the church of the Holy Sepulchre where Dave again taught as I gazed at these men, most likely Ethiopian Jews.

From this spot, one of two possibilities for the location of Jesus' crucifixion, we sat with our Bibles, reading, thinking on, and soaking in what His sacrifice means to us. More than a few of us ended in tears.

It's always hard to stay in that spot, in the death of Christ. But if we don't recognize that there had to be a perfect sacrifice in order to atone for our sins and save US from death, we can't move on to the resurrection.

Tomorrow we'll ponder on that. But for today, it's sobering to again try to comprehend the suffering of Christ on our behalf. On MY behalf.

Dave and I wandered in the markets together afterward, thankful to know the "end of the story". Otherwise I wouldn't be able to do anything at all!

We visited Dave's favorite shop for spices and dates, as well as sampled some of the amazing olives from this land.

I enjoyed the brightly painted ceramics...

And brilliantly colored fabrics in scarves, clothing and pillow coverings.

But best of all I experienced the closeness of Jesus in this place where he walked, lived and ultimately gave his life as a ransom for many. That's the most meaningful part about being here in this place.

Not that Jesus isn't everywhere! But there is definitely something about Israel that brings you into contact with what he did here, who he was and is, and what he values: his people acknowledging him as the Messiah and the Son of God.

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