Crucifixion and Burial
Luke 23: 32-56
The two criminals that were crucified with Jesus.
The crucifixion, two criminals, and Jesus’s death on the cross.
Simon of Cyrene
Matthew 27:32 & Luke 23: 26-28
Simon of Cyrene forced to carry the cross.
Matthew 27: 11-31
Jesus ridiculed and mocked and sent to Pilate. Pilate found him not guilty but the crowd would not let him release Jesus and Jesus was crucified.
John: 5: 1-31
The lame man at the pool is healed. Jewish leaders did not like Jesus healing on the Sabbath.
A song of ascent to go up to Jerusalem.
This morning started out with a bus ride to the area of the Temple Mount. This will be an interesting day in that it will be an all-walking day! We started by heading to the Temple Mount. Fortunately, when we got there, there were not many people at all – we were the first or second group to enter. We were strongly recommended to not take our backpacks there, do NOT take a Bible, no religious jewelry when there, men do not touch women and so forth. So we headed in to see the temple mount. The Dome of the Rock is on the north side and the Al-Aqsa Mosque is on the south side of the Temple Mount area.
After we got to the Temple Mount we went through security, the gates are very heavily secured. As we walked up a ramp to go into or onto the Temple Mount so we had a good view of the Western Wall with the women on one side of a curtain the men on the other side of the curtain saying their prayers or whatever other supplications they wanted at the Wailing Wall. There were groups of people that looked like they were teaching, there were groups of people who looked like it was a class or something similar to this but they were all at the Wailing Wall (or the Western Wall that it is as it is properly called) saying their prayers. There weren’t too many there at this time of the day as we got there fairly early. We went on into the Temple Mount area and got a good look at the Temple Mount itself and at the buildings on the Temple Mount. Our tour guide spent some time talking to us about some of the history and some of the events that had taken place so we wandered around up there on the Temple Mount which is a very large open area Plaza with the main building, the Dome of the Rock, in the center of this large area. There are several rules that must be followed when you are up there such as do not bring any Bibles, do not display any religious jewelry, do not touch members of the opposite sex, and various other rules. Matter of fact, when people of the Jewish religion come up they are escorted by police security both Palestinian and the IDF forces. This is to make sure that they don’t stop and start praying on the Mount as this would cause a very significant issue. Matter of fact in our group, when we just happened to be standing over near the northern part of the wall, of one of the men was leaning up against a lady for no more than a minute or two, and a security person came over and remind you to not touch members of the opposite sex. They are very tight on some of these rules. The Dome of the Rock itself is a very, very pretty structure. You cannot go inside the Dome because you are not Muslim; obviously, if you are Muslim you can. Years ago you were able to but they had a riot up there so they just decided let’s not permit that anymore. We then went out the Lions Gate from the mount and went over to the Pools of Bethesda. This was the scene where Christ healed a lame man on Sunday. The Jewish leaders were not happy with this. Christ said the Lord works on Sundays as well. We stopped by Saint Anne’s Church and went in and we were very fortunate in that there were very few people around so we had an opportunity with Joe leading us to sing several hymns and Joe sang “Jerusalem”. The echo within that building is unlike anything I have ever heard before. After you finish singing a note and stop you will hear the reverberations for 5 or 6 seconds afterward inside of the church; it’s absolutely gorgeous. The pools of Bethesda are really quite large.
While there, we had a brief healing service that Joe, Keith and Ashley led. We had an opportunity to come up and say who we would like to bless, who was sick, who we would like to heal. After we were done at the pools of Bethesda, we left the Temple Mount area and then proceeded along the Via Dolorosa, the path where Christ allegedly carried his cross while he was going to the mount for the crucifixion. There are 14 stations and we went through about 8 of them, the remaining stations are where the cross was raised where Christ was crucified. At Station 5 you will find a place where it is said that Jesus put his hand help keep himself from falling. Christ fell for the second time and when he fell he placed his hand on the side of the wall to keep his balance. In that alleged location, there has been worn a groove in the rock where people have come along and they have touched the rock in that particular location.
At this station, station 5, then Simon was tasked to carry the cross for the rest of the way to Calvary. We continued on down Via Dolorosa and stopped at a couple of locations; one that was very interesting. This particular location was converted into a museum showing what was underneath the streets after excavations were done in this part of the city. The city, if you look at the excavations, has risen considerably 30, 40, 50, 60 feet over the two thousand years simply due to the accumulation of debris or tearing down of some of the walls.
It is also very interesting as we saw a couple of these locations such as the water system that was built underneath the city: some very extensive tunnels systems to hold water, most of this was simply for water supply for the citizens of the city. As we got down through Station 8 of Via Dolorosa, we then went into the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and this is a location where allegedly Christ was buried. We will see another possible explanation of this in a few days as to where he was buried. This one, needless to say, is a very ornate church; under the altar where supposedly Christ was crucified is a hole where you can reach in and touch the actual bedrock where he allegedly died. Did have a rather unique opportunity at this location in that Joe knew the man who was responsible for opening and closing the doors of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre everyday; he has a special key which he showed us that has been around for approximately 800 years; the position has been passed down from father to son to grandson and so forth. Very interesting and very fascinating opportunity which very few people are able to see.
There was also in the church the stone slab where supposedly Christ was placed in preparation for wrapping him for burial to be placed into the tomb. This is obviously a sacred side with a number pilgrims coming in and worshipping at this particular slab of marble. They would take a cloth to rub on the slab where Jesus had laid; then they would take home the cloth as a sacred item for their family. We also went to another location within the Church of the Holy Sepulchre which is supposedly the actual burial site. We did not see at this point the actual niche in the ground but these niches would be the same type in which Christ would be buried. From here we went on to get something to eat at a very interesting little hole in the wall that our tour guide knew about. As we left the church of the Holy Sepulchre to go to the restaurant we had to go through the old city with lots of the shops and so forth and I have quite a few pictures of some of those shops. They would sell most anything. On the way to this location, we did go by an excavation site they’ve been working on over many years. They have been excavating along the main road that went through this part of town and had uncovered a wall that was built from the time of Hadrian. After we got through eating, we had an opportunity to do a little bit of shopping in this area and after the shopping, we then continued our walk to go down to the Western Wall. As I had mentioned before, all the women went on one side of a curtain that went perpendicular to the wall, to offer their prayers and so forth at the wall. It was very interesting to see some of the dress that the Jewish men wore. This indicated their rank within their religion or their rank within their synagogue.
There were a number of stands that were out so that they could approach the Torah and then read the appropriate scripture from the Torah. After we got through at the Western Wall we went around the building to I believe, the southern part of the Temple Mount. We are on the outside down below the actual Temple itself at the teaching steps. We had a very brief little service and after that, we just wandered around in the excavations in that area and it is amazing what they have found and how far underground some of it has been. Some truly remarkable work that has been done. After this, that was about it for the day; a long day with a lot of walking and we headed back to the bus to go back to the hotel. Patricia and I went out this evening to a Georgian restaurant that I had located online and we had some khachapuri, some cheese bread, and kinkali and I had a glass of Georgian wine. Excellent food was really very, very good food pretty much as I remembered. We were probably overcharged by the taxi drivers but it was a whole lot easier just pay shekels without concerning ourselves about the meter. So excellent meal and then back to the hotel and that was it for the day. Tomorrow will be a very interesting day in that vice president Pence will be in town and thank goodness we went to the Temple Mount for the Western Wall today because as we understand, he will be at these locations tomorrow and they will be closed to tourists, so we really were lucky on this to get there when we did. Tomorrow we’re scheduled to go to Masada and to the Dead Sea and to the location where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found. However in Jerusalem supposedly a very high chance of rain starting tonight starting about three or four at about 40% and increasing about 75%. Our tour guide feels that once we get down south of Jerusalem where we are headed to the Dead Sea we might just be okay with regard to the weather but we’ll see tomorrow. So that will be about it; we have two more days, Tuesday and Wednesday, then Wednesday night we get on a plane and head home.