Obviously this all took place before Jesus walked the Via Dolorosa but we're posting about places in the order we walked through the sites. :) This is the room where The Last Supper took place. It was hard to get a grasp on what it truly would have looked like during Jesus' time. Cats were running rampant and there was an unbearable stench that was present. Still, Jesus made his name known.
Isn't it baffling that through the stench and degrading habits we have in our own lives, Jesus still makes his name known to us with authority? Even when we betray him and deny his name (which, let's be honest, happens every day), he still chooses to bless us and shower grace upon us? There is no god that could even come close to comparing to the wonder of our God, our Savior and our Healer!
At our wedding, JD and I asked our guests to join with us in partaking communion. Some people thought it was odd since that happens at most Catholic weddings and well, we aren't Catholics. But we realize the gravity of communion, as it is a time where the Body of Christ joins as one to celebrate the death and resurrection of our Savior. It was a risk though. With that gravity, the responsibility of our confessing and submitting to Christ bears a lot of weight! In 1 Corinthians 11, Paul says that a person should examine himself before partaking, "for anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself" (vs. 28-29).
Until JD showed me more in-depth detail about communion (i.e. wait until everyone is ready to take it as one and don't partake on an empty stomach), I didn't take communion that seriously... especially when I was a child. I knew I was absolutely restricted from touching the tiny little crackers and juice cups (even though they looked so tempting!) until I walked down the aisle and became a Christian. For years, I would eat the crackers and drink the juice whenever the preacher spoke the words, "This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me. And this, this cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this in remembrance of me." Oh! How different that light of perspective is for me now! It's amazing how much the Lord can transform our views and our hearts when we just dive deeper into Scripture, His words.
"For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes" (1 Corinthians 11:26).
According to Jewish record, when Rome destroyed the Second Temple in 70 C.E., only one outer wall remained standing. The Romans probably would have destroyed that wall also, but it must have seemed too insignificant to them; it was not even part of the Temple itself, just an outer wall surrounding the Temple Mount. For the Jews, however, this remnant of what was the most sacred building in the Jewish world quickly became the holiest spot in Jewish life. Throughout the centuries, Jews from throughout the world traveled to Palestine, and immediately headed for the Kotel ha-Ma'aravi (the Western Wall) to thank God. The prayers offered at the Kotel were so heartfelt that non-Jews began calling the site the "Wailing Wall."
Men and women are separated here too. Less than a quarter of the wall is for the women to pray at (on the right side) and the left side is for the men. Women are squished against each other in several lines, shoulder-to-shoulder, merely to get a chance to touch the wall. The men have enough room to spread out across the wall. Do you see how small the entrance is for the women (single-file line) in comparison to the men's entrance where ten men (at least) could fit through at a time. You haven't seen oppression of women until you dwell in the Middle Eastern culture for a few days.
All men must cover their heads. The site offers free yarmulkes for men that don't have one. When you leave the wall, you must not turn around with your back to the wall as that is a sign of disrespect. You must walk backwards until you reach the entrance, always facing the wall.
Below is the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount. Muslims remove their shoes and express their devotion to Allah inside the Dome of the Rock, which was built around the rock on which Abraham bound his son Isaac to be sacrificed before God intervened.
We traveled over to Jerusalem. This was the first and only "guided tour" we went on.
Our tour guide was Jewish and stated bluntly and frequently that "these are the Christian beliefs but [he] just doesn't understand how people can think that way."
To put it in a more direct light for you... we would be standing at the Via Dolorosa and he would say, "This plaque on the wall is where Jesus put His hand when carrying the cross to His crucifixion, but I personally don't believe He was the Messiah."
To be transparent with you, it was tough hearing the guide use a disclaimer like that for everything JD and I believe in. It was interesting and challenging to hear his beliefs, but still tough to follow a guide who was telling us about Jesus but didn't know Jesus himself.
Praise Jesus that through His crucifixion and resurrection, He has removed the veil from the high place; that where the spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom; and that we all, with unveiled faces, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image of Christ from degree of glory to another (2 Cor 3:16-18).
In our next post, we will take you on a tour through the Old City (it may last longer than one post).
Below is Palestine, right behind us. You may not know the level of callousness between the Palestinians and Israelites, so let us put it into perspective for you... Israelis have yellow on their car tags and the Palestinians have blue on their car tags. If an Israeli car is seen crossing over the Palestinian line, well, they'll be bombed. From what we gathered, it seems like the Israelites have a less harmful form of punishment for the Palestinians but they won't be allowed over the line regardless.
Can you believe how close the two territories are? We are standing in Israeli territory but the Palestine territory is directly below us.
My sweet husband...
Can you see the Temple Mount? It's the gray building with the golden dome. That marks the location of the Old City, specifically the Muslim Quarter.
We are now on the other side of the road from our previous photo. Can you believe the contrast between the Israeli and Palestine territories? The Palestinian territory looks desolate and dry but Israel looks like it's thriving. Besides this trip, we didn't venture near Palestine. :)