The Rock Where Jesus Wept: Church of All Nations

Maybe you were a little baffled at the fact we didn't post photos of the place Jesus actually prayed upon while Peter, James and John were snoozin' against the olive trees. After a few steps through the garden, it was hard to miss the quick transition back to reality. Would it surprise you if we told you they built an actual church around the rock where Jesus fell on his face and cried out to his Father, "Not as I will, but as you will!"


The church was pretty epic. Elaborate murals consume the walls and ceiling while flags represent each nation. The Basilica of the Agony is the original name of the church. It was built from 1919-1924 with funding from twelve different countries, thus giving it the nickname, The Church of All Nations.

In the center, the high altar overlooks a large slab of rock, which is said to be the rock on which Jesus prayed in agony the night of his betrayal. 



We were just about to leave when we heard a group of people singing hymns beside the rock. They had just begun a church service. Hearing the angelic voices echoing through the church built around the rock and upon the Rock sent chills down our spine. 




When you're standing at the Garden of Gethsemane, this is the glimpse you get of the Old City in Jerusalem (where the Via Dolorosa is, etc.). The particular part of the Old City Walls is the Golden Gate, a closed gate located above ground level and below the Temple Mount. It is only visible from outside the city. 


According to Jewish tradition, when the Messiah comes, he will enter Jerusalem through this gate. To prevent him from coming, the Muslims sealed the gate during the rule of Suleiman.

As Christians, all we can say is, "Praise God that the Messiah has already come and defeated the grave! Now we wait eagerly for his glorious return." 

The "Way of Suffering" or Via Dolorosa: The Last Steps of Jesus' Life

I'll be completely transparent with you on this... I've had a bittersweet dread towards writing about our trip through Via Dolorosa. First off, an entire blog could be dedicated to the Via Dolorosa, Jesus' suffering and His death. To merely dedicate one post on a blog to this journey deprives the multitude of truth there is to these steps. If you don't have time to read it all, just skip to the bottom and at least watch the video at the end. :) Secondly, I am in no way a theologist or biblical scholar. However, I will attempt at describing each section of the pathway with as much truth from Scripture as I can. 

Via Dolorosa means Way of Suffering or Way of the Cross. The sign below marks the beginning point of the route Christians believe Jesus started carrying his cross from his trial to the place of his crucifixion and burial.



The guide told us that this is believed to be an imprint of Jesus' hand. It is located at this point, as a dedication to Simon, who helped Jesus carry the cross. "And as they led him away, they seized on Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, and laid on him the cross, to carry it behind Jesus." Luke 23:26

We just had to get a snapshot of JD touching the same spot where Jesus touched. :)


This landmark is dedicated to the woman who wiped Jesus' face. "And there followed him a great multitude of the people and of women who were mourning and lamenting for him." Luke 23:27


This is the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, also known as the location of Christ's death, burial and resurrection. The entrance, specifically, is the place where Jesus was stripped of his clothes... "And they crucified him and divided his garments among them, casting lots for them, to decide what each should take." Mark 15:24 The church was actually destroyed and rebuilt several times over the centuries. The building standing today was built in the 12th century. 


Inside of the church, this marks the site of where Jesus died on the cross. A silver disk with a central hole, underneath the altar marks the spot where the cross stood.

Christians lighting candles at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. 

This was the best shot we could get...

"So they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen cloths with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews" (John 19:40). The body of Jesus was laid on this stone after being removed from the cross. Most people present were stretching out with all of their power to simply touch it, kiss it and pray to it.


And this is the actual burial site of Jesus. "Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. So because of the Jewish day of Preparation, since the tomb was close at hand, they laid Jesus there" (John 19:41-42). 

Because of the masses trying to enter into the tomb, we were unable to go inside of Jesus' tomb. We went into another one. It was about what you would expect when entering a tomb: dark, cold, eerie and small.

THEN... the best part (which we obviously do not have a photo of)... "Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?" says Jesus to Mary Magdalene. Eventually, Mary becomes overwhelmed with excitement, tears, joy, and awe... "Rabboni! I have seen the Lord!"

HE. HAS. RISEN!!
PRAISE JESUS that He continuously claims victory over all things, including death!... 

Death couldn't handle Him and the grave couldn't hold Him!
That's my King!
Do you know Him? 


The Biblical Restaurant and a Giant Ball of Yarn

The city's name may mean "peace" but it has had more wars fought over her than any city in history. Jerusalem is filled with way more history than we could even begin to write about, so we'll keep our posts in line with only the places and sights we experienced throughout our day's journey there.

The first thing we saw before walking into the Old City was The Biblical Restaurant. Gosh. We hated that we couldn't eat there. ;)


Being the photographers that we are (we take pictures of pretty much everything and anything), JD requested that we take a photo of this lovely large ball of steel yarn. The tour group was walking fast so we only got this off-kilter snapshot of the art piece...


And we reach our first point of true significance: King David's Tomb. We actually didn't reach this point until the very end of the tour but saw the sign at the beginning. As it was Shabbat, we were not allowed to take photos of any holy landmarks so you won't be seeing any photos of the tomb on this blog. 

The best description we could give of the tomb is: massive and royal. 

Because of the strict cultural divide between men and women in Israel, we were not allowed to enter the tomb together. The tomb was separated in half by a cloth curtain. On the women's side, females were crying while reading from books aloud and swaying as they recited words in Hebrew. King David's Tomb is the second most holy site to the Jewish people, second only to the Wailing Wall (we'll discuss this in a few days).

We've read that he is not buried here since scripture indicates he was buried in the city of David (1 Kings 2:10). However, this site marks his burial and has done so since about 1173 A.D. 


Quick Overview.... The Old City is divided into four quarters: Armenian, Christian, Jewish and Muslim. People reside in the quarters just like they would a regular small town. Many years ago, the government would actually pay people to live there just so they could fill the space. Now the cost of living there is pretty expensive. 








November 5: Jerusalem on Shabbat

Yes, this post is written five days after the last one. You didn't miss much. JD worked every day, and I laid out at the pool (until the guy at the entrance asked me, "Why are you always alone by yourself?"... then I just sat in the hotel room or the executive lounge - wouldn't that creep you out a little too??).

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. :)