Wednesday, October 26, 2011

garden of gethsemane

At the base of the Mount of Olives is the Garden of Gethsemane and the Church of all Nations.  Unfortunately, we ran out of time and the church was about to close, but we had about 10 minutes to check the garden and the church out.  By the way -- the Church of All Nations is the church we're standing in front of at the end of my other post about the Mount of Olives.  We didn't have time that night to visit, so we came back this time.

Tourists galore!
Apparently we squeezed in the door right before they closed!
The garden.

Gethsemane means "oil press".  Its name is fitting as there are olive trees throughout the garden.  Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane the night he was betrayed by Judas and was arrested.  He and his disciples prayed here the night before his crucifixion according to the Bible. 

Once again, it's impossible to know without a doubt if this was the actual location.  All the churches on the mount claim to contain the "actual" site.  Unfortunately, my camera doesn't do so well in low lighting, so some of the photos don't have the best quality.

On the grounds of the church.

Entrance to the Church of All Nations.

Inside the Church of All Nations.

This is believed to be the stone where Jesus' sweat turned to blood.

Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”  Matthew 26:36-38

Knowing that he would be betrayed and arrested soon, Jesus left the disciples to pray.

He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”  Matthew 26:42

But getting into an agony he continued praying more earnestly; and his sweat became as drops of blood falling to the ground.  Luke 22:44

Jesus sweating blood.

Russian Orthodox Church of Mary Magdalene.

occupy wall street

OWS has even spread to Ramallah.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

the garden tomb

The Garden Tomb is one of the two sites believed to be the location of Christ's crucifixion and burial (the other most popular being the Church of the Holy Sepulchre).  We didn't even know it was here because it's walled in and tucked away in a corner by the bus station that takes us to and from Jerusalem -- so lets just say I didn't have very high expectations.  It doesn't look like much from the outside, but we figured it could be cool.  Here we are at the entrance.

You may be wondering why my expectations were so low.  The street outside the Garden Tomb is packed with vendors, covered in garbage and litter, next to a bus station that reeks of urine -- not exactly picturesque, but the moment we walked inside it was GORGEOUS!  It was way beyond my expectations and I was totally blown away.  Entrance into the site is completely free inculding the tour guides who are volunteers.  It's filled with beautiful trees and plants with a path that leads to Skull Hill also known as Golgotha - the site of Jesus's crucifixion.

What you see at the entrance.

There was a covered observation area.

We were kind of at a side angle and it really does look like a skull with eyes and a nose.  This could very well be the location of the crucifixion because it matches the description of the skull hill mentioned in the Bible.  It's also located just yards from Damascus Gate, which is the perfect location for a crucifixion at that time because the road to Damascus was very busy and in view of the city. 

They wanted to make an example out of you.  Your cross wouldn't be hidden from the crowds - it would be somewhere visible to everyone so that you'd be publicly humiliated.  However, this site is outside the city gates because no one wants to smell the decaying of bodies in their tombs.  These traits closely match the description in the Bible.

They came to a place called Golgotha (which means The Place of the Skull).  Matthew 27:23

Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Hebrew is called Golgotha).  John 19:17

And so Jesus also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through his own blood.  Hebrews 13:12

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.  Romans 3:23

For God so loved the world that he gave his only son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
 John 3:16

Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.  John 14:6

Hole in the rock with graves above.

Scholars believe that Jesus was crucified at the bottom of the hill instead of at the top.  This photo (above) was taken 100 years ago showing the eyes, nose and mouth. The "mouth" is no longer visible because the ground level has been raised since then.  Sadly, it is now a bus station.

The bus station at Golgotha.
 Michael and our tour group.

As we walked from Skull Hill towards the tomb, we saw a group of Brazilian tourists (I think).  They were singing old hymns like "The Blood of Jesus" and "The Old Rugged Cross".  It was truly beautiful and I was overcome with emotion.  I don't understand Portuguese, but I knew every word of what they were singing.

There is an underground water system below the garden which is still used today.  Water is hard to come by in Jerusalem and a great source of water is needed to sustain a garden this size.  The area in the photo below is closed off today, but you can still see the entrance with the same ladder.

This is our British tour guide, Ann, telling us what we can expect to see when we enter the tomb.  This symbol was painted inside by the Byzantine's.  It symbolizes the Alpha and Omega.  And below you can see the miniature rock - a replica of what they believe the stone covering the tomb looked like.  It's flat and round like a wheel you'd see on the Flintstones.

Here it is...
The tomb!

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 there they laid Jesus, because of the Jews' Preparation Day, for the tomb was nearby.   John 19:41-42

Joseph of Aramathea was wealthy and may have owned this entire garden.  The tomb had never been used before and it may have been intended for Joseph, but he allowed Jesus to lay there instead. 

The picture above is basically a floor plan of the tomb.  The left section is where the entrance is.  The top right section was where Jesus would/could have been laid.  There is room for two bodies which may have been for Joseph's family burial site.  Joseph went directly to Pilate and asked for Jesus' body - a bold move that must have taken some courage.

Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jewish leaders. With Pilate’s permission, he came and took the body away. He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night.  John 19:38-39

About to go inside!
 The Byzantine marking on the wall.
 The tomb where Jesus would/could have laid.

He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.  Matthew 28:6

 I love the door!  He is risen!
Inside the tomb.
The view you see when you leave the tomb.  

In this photo above, you can see that the stairs to the tomb go over a "track" that the huge stone would have been rolled on.  So cool...  I can just picture the guards and the angel moving the stone.

And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and laid it in his new tomb which he had hewn out of the rock; and he rolled a large stone against the door of the tomb, and departed.  Matthew 27:59-60

...and they asked each other, "Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?"  But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away.  Mark 16:3-4

There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow.  The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.  The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified.  He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.  Then go quickly and tell his disciples: He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him. Now I have told you.”  Matthew 28:2-7

It's hard to describe how overcome I felt with emotion.  I felt so undeserving and thankful that Jesus died for my sins.  Even now just writing this post - I feel so emotional.  I wasn't expecting to feel so touched.  This may or may not be the true location, but that doesn't matter because I don't need physical proof of that.  I should rely on my faith.  Still - seeing the tomb and Golgotha has been an absolutely unforgettable experience.

The atmosphere there is like nothing I've ever experienced before.  There are people everywhere praying, singing and worshiping so peacefully.  It almost makes you forget that there's even a conflict here.

Another group listening to a sermon.

I feel so blessed to have been given the opportunity to come to Jerusalem.  This journey has changed my life and reminded me of what's really important.

He answered: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'"  Luke 10:27