Walking on Water – Following in the footsteps of Jesus. Part 3 – Jerusalem, murder, martyr.
Jerusalem is quite simply, the most influential city in the world. It has been captured and recaptured, 44 times, attacked 52 times, besieged 23 times, and twice, destroyed completely. And being the center of faith for the three major religions, Christianity, Judaism, and Islam – it still has as much of an importance in the 21st century as it did all that time ago. And yes, the right to own and access the city is still being fought for up to this very day.
“And the multitudes that went before him, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the son of David: Blessed [is] he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest.And when he was come into Jerusalem, all the city was stirred, saying, Who is this? And the multitudes said, This is the prophet, Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.” Matthew (21:9-11)
But lets reverse 2000 years. Jesus has just spent months travelling from the Sea of Galilee towards Jerusalem. He knows what lies in wait for him there. He told his disciples that he would be put to death, then rise again after three days, but they did not understand his meaning. After descending from the Mount of Olives and entering the city to great applause, he made his way through Jerusalem to the Temple Mount, where the Holy Temple stood. He threw over the money exchanging tables, and the merchants and declared the temple to only be used for prayer, much to the anger of the Priests and Elders.
Unfortunately we cannot visit the temple anymore. Why? Its not there! The temple was destroyed in the year 70 AD by Roman forces during the Jewish-Roman war. What’s there now? The Dome of the Rock.. A Mosque.
From that day forward, Jesus taught at the temple, preaching his lessons and speaking parables to the public. The priests and elders of the temple did not like the way Jesus spoke of them, and criticized their ways. They challenged him with questions designed to anger the Roman soldiers, or to call blasphemy against him. His answers always reverted their questions and made them seem like the bad guys. So they began plotting behind his back to have him killed. They found a willing betrayer with Judas, Jesus’s disciple who tells them when, and where they can find Jesus to have him killed – in exchange for 30 silver coins. The night of his arrest, Jesus enjoys his last supper with his disciples.
Scholars have identified the location of this, and it is possible to visit the room of the Last Supper while in Jerusalem. Those who expect it to be a mirror image of the Leonardo da Vinci painting though, will be in for a surprise. The room is in an attractive but empty rectangular room with gothic style pillars from the 12th Century. At some stage in its life, it was used as a mosque and there is still a doorway inside pointing to Mecca. The room is directly over the top of the Tomb of King David. There is not so much to see here, but try to sit down in the corner and wait for the tourists groups to leave and feel what went on inside here, all that time ago.
Exiting the city walls of Jerusalem, we venture onto the lower slopes of the Mount of Olives, to the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus was arrested after being betrayed. The garden is preserved inside a courtyard of the Church of All Nations – and the centerpiece inside the church is the Bleeding Rock where Jesus supposedly cried tears of blood before being arrested. The garden itself has Olive tree’s that are over 900 years old. What a time they have witnessed.
After walking to the top of the Mount of Olives, and taking the picture perfect photo of Jerusalem, we can descend the slopes and walk back through the gate in the city walls to follow in the final footsteps of Jesus Christ, the Via Dolorosa.
The Via Dolorosa is the name of a pathway inside Jerusalem. Translated it means ‘ Way of Sorrows’. It is the route that Jesus took while bearing the Cross on the way to his crucifixion. The way is marked with 9 Stations of the Cross, and another 5 inside the Church of the Holy Sepulture. The best companion for the route – is the Bible.
- Jesus is condemned to death
- Jesus carries his cross
- Jesus falls the first time
- Jesus meets his mother
- Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus carry the cross
- Veronica wipes the face of Jesus
- Jesus falls the second time
- Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem
- Jesus falls the third time
Once at the top of the Via Dolorosa, the final 5 stations are inside the Church of the Holy Sepulture.
- Jesus is stripped of his garments
- Crucifixion: Jesus is nailed to the cross
- Jesus dies on the cross
- Jesus is taken down from the cross
- Jesus is laid in the tomb.
The Church of the Holy Sepulture is the pinnacle of the Christian Religion. It is the holiest of holies. It is the culmination of the hopes and beliefs of literally billions of believers, a place that has stood the test of history. You can literally touch the stone that Jesus’s cross was hammered into, and enter into his burial chamber where he was resurrected, but three days later. The place is indescribable. I will not describe it here or attempt to do so with any justice. I have seen the place with my own eyes and declare it a must-see for anyone and everyone on this planet. I did not take any pictures inside (aside from the fresco above), not because I couldn’t, but because I wouldn’t. The visuals are not what is important here, it is the belief and the feelings that display the truth, not photographs.
One can only hope the church will continue to stand through the next pages of Jerusalem’s future.
I hope you have enjoyed the Following in footsteps series! Please feel free to comment!