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).
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. :)
Welcome to Mt. Carmel, the place where Elijah challenged the prophets of Baal and God claimed victory once again.
Doesn't this story just make your heart burst with joy!?
When Baal didn't answer the prophets with fire... or any response at all, Elijah starts mocking them by saying, "Cry aloud, for he is a god. Either he is musing, or he is relieving himself, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened. (18: 27)"
Praise Jesus that our Savior is constantly Present, listening and responsive. He heals, showers us with grace... and oh yeah... He can send down blazing fire that will light up a burnt offering that is surrounded by a trench of water! Natural combustion is simply not possible until God steps in and does His thing. The fire of the Lord consumes the burnt offering, the wood, the stones, the saturated dust and the water that was in the trench.
This is the location where all of that went down...
Mt. Carmel National Park is a little difficult to find, even with a GPS. We were close to the park at one point but we turned too soon. This led to about 30 minutes of circling Carmel, trying to find the park according to the GPS. Finally, the guys decided to drive back to where I had seen the Mt. Carmel Park sign and there it was!
We parked on the side of the road and saw one guy actually back down the one-way street in reverse for about 30 - 40 yard just to pull into the gravel road that led to the park. Did I mention that he was driving backwards on a one-way street... on a mountain? It was crazy!!
Side Note: You have never witnessed a true "terrible driver" until you drive in Israel.
We caught a glimpse of a magnificent sunset at the park. We didn't hike the path, mainly because we saw a lookout higher on the mountain that "peaked" our interest. In complete spontaneity, we drove... and ended up in a major traffic jam because of a car wreck ahead. We were stuck for quite a while but it was worth it. We drove down the mountain, surrounded by rocky (and most likely treacherous) canyons. We saw tons of caves in hidden among the rock along the descent. (We like to think that Noah or Lot resided in one of them back in the day?!?). The sharp curves and speeding cars created a fairly intimidating drive. Road lines prove to be unnecessary here since drivers fail to take heed to them. We finally made it to the bottom and then drove along the breathtaking coastline back to Tel Aviv.
And that's where we captured this photo. Absolutely stunning. Once again... Jesus is constantly present and makes His name known even among the clouds.
We told you a couple of weeks ago that we would share our "special find" from the Cotton Depot.
This is it!
This is our home. I've been looking everywhere for that "staple piece" to build our house around when the time comes, and this is it. It went up for sale six days before we bought it.
As soon as I laid my eyes on it, I started frantically calling JD. "We have to get this table, JD. It is so perfect and it is everything I've dreamed of for our home."
Please note here that we are trying really hard to become less materialistic. As in, if God calls us to leave everything behind and serve in a third-world country, then we would quickly and willingly drop everything to respond to that calling.
I'm really thinking this table would fit on a plane along with our one suitcase of absolute necessities...? Haha
The lady hung a "SOLD" sign on it until JD came to Monroe. We picked it up Saturday and she said at least four people had come in since we bought it, asking if they could buy it from her if they paid her more money. Thankfully she was the sweetest lady and kept to her word until we picked it up.
Isn't it just the sweetest table you've ever seen? It is handmade from old barnwood and the legs are white-washed. We will probably put a bench along one side when we move into a house.
Do you have a staple piece that you've built your home around?
Seriously though. After being scared pants-less, Jesus tries to calm the disciples, "Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid." He invites Peter to join him after Peter challenges Jesus by saying, "If it's really you, command me to come to you on the water."
Of course, Jesus does just that. "Come." Peter steps out of the boat, even walks on the raging sea and then... "Oh no!! The wind." Jesus has conquered the wind, the water, the waves. Because of his faith in Jesus, Peter even conquers the water and the waves, but the wind... That's where the doubt set in.
John Ortberg wrote a book entitled If You Want to Walk On Water, You've Got to Get Out of the Boat. How true that title fits to our lives! People often criticize Peter for losing faith when he sees the wind, but he was the only disciple to actually get out of the boat, trusting that Jesus would keep his feet on top of the sea. How often is it that we don't even trust Jesus enough to take us out of the boat? Moreover, how often is it that we lose sight of Christ and BOOM. We collapse into the water because we shift our focus off Christ and onto the wind, or the obstacles in life.
Fear overcomes our faith.
My favorite part of this story is that after Peter loses faith, he falls into the sea crying for Jesus to save him. Jesus reaches his hand out to Peter, saving him from the brutal waters and says, "O you of little faith, why did you doubt?" Is that not one of the most beautiful portrayals of Jesus? He's showing compassion, grace, redemption, salvation, and mercy to a regular guy that just lost his focus for a bit. Praise God that He desires to save us and redeem us regardless of the countless times we doubt in our God of Salvation!
The wind ceases and every man in that boat begins crying out in worship, "Truly you are the Son of God!!"
There are so many other wonderful stories about the Sea of Galilee. If you want to check it out, the passages about Jesus walking on water can be found in Matthew 14, verses 22-33. We realize that our posts are excruciatingly long so we're trying to render that. However, we want to lead you to some other passages that took place at the Sea of Galilee. You can check them out here:
- Jesus speaks to the multitude from Peter's boat (Mark 3:7-12, Luke 5:1-3)
- Jesus calms the storm (Matthew 8:23-27)
- Jesus appears here after the resurrection (Mark 14:28, John 21:1-23)
And a little quick fact about the Sea of Galilee... This fresh water lake has many names. However, the Israelites call the sea "Lake Kinneret", which means harp, because of its harp-shaped shoreline. Anyone else think it kind of looks like Africa too?... Or is that too far of a stretch?