Today was a mixed weather day in the Holy City. We experienced periods of “liquid sunshine” and moments of clear skies. Jerusalem isn’t a safe place to walk when it’s raining. The old sandstone streets become extremely slick and dangerous. There’s a high probability of slipping and falling. Thankfully Angie and I stayed on our feet.
We visited the Church of the Holy Sepulchre early in the day. That site triggered many thoughts for me. First, five different religious groups meet in that church facility. And the five churches are divided theologically. In John 17, Jesus prayed for His Church to be united, not divided. Second, I witnessed many people performing religious deeds and rituals, hoping to connect with God. Apart from Jesus Christ, you and I can’t connect with God. The various religions of the world are about what man can “do.” However, Christianity is about what Christ has “done.” God gave His Son for us (Jn. 3:16). He suffered and died in our place (Rom. 5:8). Almighty God invites us to call on the name of Jesus and be saved (Rom. 10:13). Salvation is by grace through faith, not of good works (Eph. 2:8-9).
I try to pay attention to the sights, sounds, and smells of my surroundings. As we sat on the southern steps leading into the Old City (this was the main entrance into the Temple at one point), I heard a rooster crow. The Spirit immediately reminded me of Peter. Peter confessed his loyalty to Jesus. However, one night by a courtyard fire, he denied knowing Jesus three different times. As Jesus predicted and promised, the rooster crowed, and Peter wept bitterly (Mt. 26:69-75). I know that many of us are hard on Peter at times. We ask, “How could he have denied Jesus? Why did Peter turn his back on the Savior of the world and a dear friend?” Have you and I ever denied the Lord? Have we ever been silent about knowing Jesus when the door was open to speak? Have we ever put our agendas before His good, acceptable, and perfect will (Rom. 12:2)? As I thought about Peter’s life and ministry, I thanked God for amazing grace. Peter experienced grace and was restored. Jesus used him to expound the Gospel, evangelize the lost, and equip the saved. If you’ve made a mess out of God’s precious gift of life, take heart, God’s grace is still available in an abundant supply.
Shortly before lunch, we walked out of the Old City and into the City of David. Seeing the City of David helped me understand the location of David’s palace and his sin with Bathsheba. The Kidron Valley runs alongside the the City of David. David’s rooftop would have been much higher than the residences around him. Therefore, seeing Bathsheba bathing on her rooftop would have been easy for King David. God’s man was at the wrong place at the wrong time. He should have been at war, not at home (2 Sam. 11:1). Walking around the City of David reveals the stedfast work of archeologists. In many ways, the Holy Land is a prominent place for discovery. Every item that is unearthed validates the authority and activity of God and His Word.
We found ourselves back at the Western Wall for a second time. For a man to approach the wall, he must wear a Kipa (dome or covering). I took the step, placed a Kipa on my head, and approached the wall to pray. In regards to this sacred space, the Jewish people say, “You are approaching the holy site of the Western Wall where the Divine Presence always rests.” I prayed by name for people who need Jesus Christ, and I prayed for you. May our church family be all that God desires! We walked around to the southern entrance of the Old City and sat on the steps. It’s historically accurate to say that Jesus walked those steps and entered the Temple at this point. Thousands of other people would have walked those steps, too. The clean and unclean would have entered the Temple at different places. It’s easy to see the many pools for ritual baths in that same area.
Our final stop for the day was at Caiaphas’ house. Jesus knew the inside of this house well. As Jesus stayed in the house, people spit in His face, struck Him, and slapped Him (Mt. 26:67). Outside of Caiaphas’ place, you can see the Mount of Olives, the Garden of Gethsemane , and the Valley of “Hell” (Gehenna). The Valley of “Hell” meets and merges with the Kidron Valley near the southeastern corner of the city. Why is the place cursed? It’s known as a location where children were sacrificed, and any conversation about this unholy valley, Judas’ name always surfaces. Judas was a betrayer.
Today’s pictures are from the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Western Wall, the southern entrance into the Holy City, the Dung Gate, a look from Caiaphas’ house, and a statue to the rooster that crowed after Peter’s denial.
Our plan tomorrow is to travel to the Dead Sea. I imagine that will be an interesting experience physically and spiritually. Thank you for the positive posts and replies each day. You’re an encouragement to Angie and me!
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