My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.
Today is our final day in Israel. It’s our last breakfast meal. Instead of writing about chocolate, I’ll let you know about the fruit. It’s delicious! Now you know that we’ve eaten more than chocolate. We saw the AFC (Arab Fried Chicken) restaurant early this morning. We’ve never been brave enough to eat the gospel-bird there.
One of our group members prayed every morning on the bus. We always start our day and travels by asking the Lord for His blessings and safety. As a testimony, He has blessed us!
Jesus spent considerable time in caves. We walked into a cave near the Garden of Gethsemane. This is place where Jesus and Nicodemus talked about being born again and the location where Judas betrayed Jesus.
We worshiped in the Garden of Gethsemane. What a sacred place! We worshipped the Lord in song; we taught God’s Word; and we sought the Lord’s face. We prayed to know and do our Father’s will. Tears flowed from our group. We prayed prayers of thanksgiving, confession, and surrender. Angie and I rejoiced to pray together. I loved praying with Eddie and Tom. I asked our group to pray for those of us serving in vocational ministry. We’re desperate for the prayers of God’s people. Eddie, Tom, Aaron, and I were moved and strengthened as people prayed over us. My challenge was for them to pray for us in three ways: (1) for us to live with character: (2) for us to lead with integrity; and (3) for us to love with compassion. Hearing people pray for us was overwhelming. People wept; people rejoiced. This was a holy ground moment!
We walked down the Kidron Valley to the Pool of Siloam. Apartment buildings fill the hillside along the valley. Many of the apartments have been around for more than 2,000 years. On our right was the City of David. You can see from the landscape how David saw Bathsheba bathing on the rooftop in 2 Samuel 11. The Water Gate of Nehemiah 8 is in the area, too. We read John 9:1-7 at the Pool of Siloam. The pool is dried up now. The pool was feed by a spring. Water is a major commodity in Israel. It’s biblically accurate to say that Jesus walked through the Kidron Valley.
We stepped down many steps into the dungeon (pit) at Caiaphas’ house. Jesus spent the night here. We read Psalm 88. It’s believed that Jesus read this Psalm while in the pit. What a pilgrimage to walk the steps of Jesus as He walked to the Place of the Skull! The pit would have been filled rats, snakes, and fowl smells. Jesus’ next stop was an audience with Pilate. Peter denied the Lord three times in the courtyard of the high priest. As we paused in the courtyard, we heard the crowing of a rooster. We read Matthew 26:69-75.
Our final stop before the Garden Tomb was the Via Dolorosa. We read Matthew 27:11-31. We bowed and prayed on stones that Jesus stood on. We read God’s Word (Hebrews 12; Ezekiel 36). We quoted the Lord’s Prayer before leaving this site. We even sang again, “All the Praise.”
During our time at The Garden Tomb, we visited the Place of the Skull and the Empty Tomb. Our group gathered together one last time. We observed the Lord’s Supper. Tom Cooney shared words about the body of Jesus, and Aaron Powell shared words about the blood of Jesus. Scott Hamilton and Ron Castleberry, deacons at Bradfordville, served the bread and juice. We finished our time in the Garden Tomb by singing and praying as a group.
On our way back to the hotel, we thanked Shafik (our tour guide) and Adel (our bus driver). We gave them a generous gratuity for spending eight days with us. Those men were a big help during our time in Israel.
As we finish our 2019 Israel pilgrimage, all the praise goes to Jesus! I’m thankful for Bradfordville’s staff. This trip isn’t possible without their involvement and leadership.
Our group leaves Israel with this magnificent declaration, “The tomb is empty. Jesus is alive!”
Looking Forward to Seeing Jesus’ Face,