The Long Journey Home

As I sit here at the Tel-aviv airport, I am beyond excited to get home to hold my bride and my kids, and yet sad to say goodbye to the men who have become like brothers to me on this trip. I can not thank God enough for the 20 brothers that I got to make this pilgrimage with. Here is a picture of part of the group, I’ve got to find one of the whole group and post later.
*At some point in the next few days, I’m going to write a post summing up this life changing pilgrimage.

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The Stations of the Cross

Yesterday after visiting Caiaphas’ house, we journeyed through the stations of the cross. To be honest, I did not anticipate the kind of impact that it would have on me. The Stations of the Cross have been walked and experienced by people on pilgrimage for nearly a thousand years. You basically begin at the place where Jesus was condemned to die and then make your way through the streets in Jerusalem to Golgotha, where He was crucified. Heading the first station, I started to pray and ask God to allow me to be able to experience what it must have been like watching Jesus carry his cross to his death. Almost immediately, I began to shut out everything that was going on around me and scripture began to come to my mind about the seriousness of sin and I began to feel the weight of my own sin and the sin of the world on the back of Jesus as he was condemned to die. There at the first station it was like I could hear the people shouting, “CRUCIFY HIM, CRUCIFY HIM.” (Matthew 27:22-23) I’ve always read that and thought, “how dare those people, how completely and utterly unfair.” Yesterday, I realized that my own sin has been shouting “CRUCIFY HIM, CRUCIFY HIM,” my entire life. And as odd as it is, and as weird as it feels to say, that’s exactly what I needed to happen to be freed from the grip of sin and death. It’s the precious gift that my Savior gave to me and entire world. (Romans 6:23, John 3:16) As we journeyed on I was somehow able to completely block out the hustle and bustle going on all around me on the streets of this ancient city and really lock in for the next 2 hours on the journey to the cross. I must say, it was one of the most powerful, most intimate time I’ve ever spent with my LORD. I went from feeling the unbearable weight of sin, to the freedom of grace. As we approached the place of the cross, something odd (actually probably quite normal) happened, this tour guide and about 20 people shoved their way past us and to the front of the line. Now, I am a justice, fairness, and respect kind of guy, so stuff like this infuriates me. For the first time in over 90 minutes, I felt myself no longer focusing on Jesus but rather on this jerk that just cut all of the rest of us. Then, our guide said we needed to move on and would have to come back at some point later to see the place of the cross. I became infuriated, I felt like that I had just been robbed of my experience on this pilgrimage. This was completely UNFAIR! I wanted so badly to leave my group, go track down that tour guide that cut us, and give him a piece of my mind. Then all of the sudden it hit me like a ton of bricks, that this is the whole point, this whole thing (the cross) was UNFAIR! Jesus didn’t deserve to die, I deserved to die. It was my sin, not his that he took to the cross. But in his great mercy, “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) And as the accusations were brought, Jesus remained “silent.” (Matthew 26:63) In fact, while he was hanging on the cross he even said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34) So in that moment, I met my own selfishness, ugliness, and sin at the cross…and as I was so angry at that tour guide, it was as if a mirror was held up in front of my face so that I could truly see the ugliness of my own sin, even at the place of the cross. Talk about a humbling feeling! I realized in that moment that there was no need to go confront the man, that the cross is not about what’s fair. In fact, I don’t want what’s fair, I don’t want what I deserve, I want grace, I want mercy…I need grace and I need mercy. The cross is a place of forgiveness, not fairness!
Needless to say, the entire hike through the stations was an incredibly impactful experience.
Below, I included a copy of of the readings that we used at each station of the cross. Each word on the readings were written from deep within the author’s heart and managed to express our feelings as we journeyed in the footsteps of Jesus. If you don’t want (or have time :)) to read through the stations, scroll down and check out some of the pictures from the different stations. *Side note: all of the pictures were taken the previous day, I didn’t want to lose focus by taking pictures as we truly journeyed to the cross.

Stations of the Cross
Jerusalem

Instructions:
Today we will walk the fourteen Stations of the Cross. At each station we will hear a couple scriptures pertinent to that place, followed by a time of silence, then a prayer. The prayer will conclude with the words: “Lord, in your mercy…” to which everyone will respond: “Hear our prayer.”

Let’s begin with prayer:

Almighty God, whose most dear Son went not up to joy but first he suffered pain, and entered not into glory before he was crucified: Mercifully grant that we, walking in the way of the cross, may find it none other than the way of life and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen​Book of Common Prayer

First Station: Jesus Condemned to Death

Psalm 2:2, 7-8
The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and his anointed, saying, I will tell of the decree of the Lord: He said to me, “You are my son; today I have begotten you. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession.”

Mark 14:61-64
But he was silent and did not answer. Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?” Jesus said, “I am; and ‘you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Power,’ and ‘coming with the clouds of heaven.’” Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “Why do we still need witnesses? You have heard his blasphemy! What is your decision?” All of them condemned him as deserving death.

Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, our Teacher on the Way, we are all condemned to death. Sometimes we bring death on ourselves; sometimes it is at the hands of others. Always, death is an inevitability of the human situation. Even though we try to avoid it, the Paschal rhythm of death, burial, and resurrection teaches us that the only path way to new life leads through the dark and narrow passageway of death. Lord Jesus Christ, friend and brother, you faced your accusers with quiet dignity. You walked into your death with honesty and grace. Show me those places in my own life where I must die to self in order to be born to new life. As we walk this way together, teach me how to meet my own deaths–large and small–with courage and grace.
Lord, in your mercy…hear our prayer.
Second Station: Jesus Carries His Cross

Isaiah 53:1-3
Who has believed what we have heard? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by others; a man of suffering and acquainted with infirmity; and as one from whom others hide their faces he was despised, and we held him of no account.

John 19:14-17
Now it was the day of Preparation for the Passover; and it was about noon. He said to the Jews, “Here is your King!” They cried out, “Away with him! Away with him! Crucify him!”
Pilate asked them, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but the emperor.” Then he handed him over to them to be crucified. So they took Jesus; and carrying the cross by himself, he went out to what is called in Hebrew Golgotha.

Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, our Teacher on the Way, sometimes your call upon our life seems like more than we can bear. We are tempted to shrink from the challenges and hardships of our path. We wonder if we can make it all the way up the hill. Lord Jesus Christ, you carried your own cross with strength and perseverance and were undeterred by those who demeaned you along the way. As we walk this way together, show me what is my cross to carry, my burden to bear, and teach me how to shoulder it well. Today is the day for me to learn more of what it means for me to take up my cross and follow you. Silence.
Lord, in your mercy…hear our prayer.

Third Station: Jesus Falls beneath Cross

Isaiah 63:2-5
Why are your robes red, and your garments like theirs who tread the wine press? I have trodden the wine press alone, and from the peoples no one was with me; I trod them in my anger and trampled them in my wrath; their juice spattered on my garments, and stained all my robes. For the day of vengeance was in my heart, and the year for my redeeming work had come. I looked, but there was no helper; I stared, but there was no one to sustain me; so my own arm brought me victory, and my wrath sustained me.

John 15:18-20
If the world hates you, be aware that it hated me before it hated you. If you belonged to the world, the world would love you as its own. Because you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world–therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, Servants are not greater than their master. If they persecuted me, they will persecute you; if they kept my word, they will keep yours also.

Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, our Teacher on the Way, we are afraid of falling. Afraid of failing. Afraid of not being seen as strong and able to manage everything that has been given to us to do. Somehow the expectations have gotten so high that there is no place for weakness, for vulnerability, for needing help. We try to pretend that we can live far beyond human limitations and ruin ourselves in the process. Lord Jesus Christ, our friend and brother, on the day that you accomplished God’s greatest purpose for your life, you fell. You, the Creator of the Universe, the Word that spoke all things into being and holds them all together, stumbled under the weight of a man-made cross. As we walk this way together, teach me how to let myself be human. When I fall, help me not to be paralyzed with shame or waste energy with excuses; rather help me to get up and keep walking the path that is marked out for me. Silence.
Lord, in your mercy…hear our prayer.

Fourth Station: Jesus meets His Afflicted Mother

Lamentations 2:13
What can I say for you, to what compare you, O daughter of Jerusalem? To what can I liken you, that I may comfort you, O virgin daughter of Zion? For vast as the sea is your ruin; who can heal you?

John 19:25-27
Meanwhile, standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother=s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, “Woman, here is your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home.

Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, our Teacher on the Way, your life on this earth was shaped by a mother who was utterly given over to the will of God in her life. Her prayer, “Here I am, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word” reverberates throughout history as a picture of what it means to be totally given over to the will of God. I wonder what it was like to look into her eyes this day and see the pain that such willingness brought to her. Who could have imagined that it would all end so horribly? Was there any regret in her eyes? Lord Jesus Christ, our brother and our friend, your mother’s life teaches us that sometimes we must let go of that which we have birthed. We must allow it to be taken from us in order for it to be returned to us again. Sometimes it seems like this is the deepest pain of all. As we walk this way together, teach me how to bear this pain when it is time. Silence.
Lord, in your mercy…hear our prayer.

Fifth Station: Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus Carry Cross

Psalm 141:2-52
Let my prayer be counted as incense before you, and the lifting up of my hands as an evening sacrifice. Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips. Do not turn my heart to any evil, to busy myself with wicked deeds in company with those who work iniquity; do not let me eat of their delicacies. Let the righteous strike me; let the faithful correct me.

Mark 15:20-22
After mocking him, they stripped him of the purple cloak and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him. They compelled a passer-by, who was coming in from the country, to carry his cross; it was Simon of Cyrene, the father of Alexander and Rufus. Then they brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means the place of a skull).

Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, our Teacher on the Way, sometimes we need help. We need companions on the way to help us shoulder our burdens when they get too heavy. And yet, we are embarrassed to ask for help or unable to receive it when it is given. As we walk this path together, forgive me for my proud self-sufficiencies and for all the ways in which they wall me off from you and from others. Save me from the exhaustion that sets in when I am unable to receive the help I need. As we walk this way together, help me recognize the help that you send and to humbly receive it when it is given. Silence.
Lord, in your mercy…hear our prayer.

Sixth Station: Woman wipes face of Jesus

Sirach 6:14-17
Faithful friends are a sturdy shelter: whoever finds one has found a treasure. Faithful friends are beyond price; no amount can balance their worth. Faithful friends are life-saving medicine; and those who fear the Lord will find them. Those who fear the Lord direct their friendship aright, for as they are, so are their neighbors also.

Matthew 25:37-40
Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?” And the king will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.”

Lord Jesus Christ, our Teacher on the Way, it is one thing to receive help because someone is pressed into duty; it is quite another to experience compassion freely given. I am taken with this woman whose compassion moved her to do the one small thing she could do for you. She could not save you from what was before you, but she could be kind to you along the way. She saw the blood and sweat pouring down your face and so she did something so simple. So needed. So true. She wiped your face. Would I have had the courage to step out of my safe place in the crowd and expose myself to danger in order to help a stranger? Would I have been able to calm my beating heart and queasy stomach long enough to reach out or would I have been paralyzed by fear? If I had been the one exhausted and bloodied on the road, would I have had the humility to receive the ministry of a stranger? As we walk this path together, help me to see the one small thing I can do for you and help me to do it before the moment passes. Silence.
Lord, in your mercy…hear our prayer.

Station Seven: Jesus Falls Second Time

Isaiah 53:4-9
Surely he has borne our infirmities and carried our diseases; yet we accounted him stricken, struck down by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the punishment that made us whole, and by his bruises we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have all turned to our own way, and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. By a perversion of justice he was taken away. Who could have imagined his future? For he was cut off from the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people. They made his grave with the wicked and his tomb with the rich, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth.

Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, our Teacher on the Way, I hate these falling stations. They embarrass me. It is hard for me to admit when and where I have fallen. I want so much to nuance it. Make it look like something it is not. Blame it on someone else. But as I watch you fall, weakened from the beatings, the loss of blood, the loss of water, the loss of food, the betrayals of your friends, I see that there is something in you that is still strong: your commitment to God, your sense of yourself, your understanding of why you are here, your commitment to complete the journey that is yours to make. In you I see that there is no shame in falling because that is the way the learning comes. In you I see that falling is not the same thing as being a failure. As we walk this path together, teach me how to get up again with dignity and continue in your way. Silence.
Lord, in your mercy…hear our prayer.

Station Eight: Jesus Meets Women of Jerusalem

Lamentations 1: 12-16
Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by? Look and see if there is any sorrow like my sorrow, which was brought upon me, which the Lord inflicted on the day of his fierce anger.
From on high he sent fire; it went deep into my bones; he spread a net for my feet; he turned me back; he has left me stunned, faint all day long. My transgressions were bound into a yoke; by his hand they were fastened together; they weigh on my neck, sapping my strength; the Lord handed me over to those whom I cannot withstand. The Lord has rejected all my warriors in the midst of me; he proclaimed a time against me to crush my young men; the Lord has trodden as in a wine press… the virgin daughter Judah. For these things I weep; my eyes flow with tears; for a comforter is far from me, one to revive my courage; my children are desolate, for the enemy has prevailed.

Luke 23:27-28
A great number of the people followed him, and among them were women who were beating their breasts and wailing for him. But Jesus turned to them and said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children.”

Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, our Teacher on the Way, teach us how to grieve. We do not know how to grieve and what to grieve for. Like the women of Jerusalem, our grieving is full of melodrama and it usually misses the point. True grief, the kind that comes from seeing and grasping our true situation, is so deep it can hardly be spoken. It can only be endured. Lord Jesus Christ, our brother and our friend, our journey with you must be one of true sorrow and true conversion. As we walk this path together, lead me beyond the melodrama of public weeping and wailing into that godly grief that keeps me in touch with my humanness and leads to true repentance. Let me know the comfort promised to those who truly mourn. Silence.
Lord, in your mercy…hear our prayer.

Station Nine: Jesus Falls Third Time

Psalm 26:1-3
Vindicate me, O Lord, for I have walked in my integrity, and I have trusted in the Lord without wavering. Prove me, O Lord, and try me; test my heart and mind. For your steadfast love is before my eyes, and I walk in faithfulness to you.

Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, our Teacher on the Way. I am frustrated with the falling. I kept hoping that last time would be the last time but it is not. I keep wishing that at some point on the journey I could be certain that we can transcend our own human frailty, never to fall again. Perhaps I am finally getting it: falling and getting up again is and always will be a part of the journey until we are finally home. Lord Jesus Christ, thank you for not giving in to despair when the road got so hard. Thank you for getting up again each and every time you fell. As we walk this path together, grant me the perseverance and the humility to continue falling and rising until I am safely home. Silence.
Lord, in your mercy…hear our prayer.

Station Ten: Jesus Stripped of His Clothes

Matthew 27:34-5
They offered him wine to drink, mixed with gall; but when he tasted it, he would not drink it. And when they had crucified him, they divided his clothes among themselves by casting lots.

Job 5:17-18
How happy is the one whom God reproves; therefore do not despise the discipline of the Almighty. For he wounds, but he binds up; he strikes, but his hands heal.

Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, our Teacher on the Way, this station is hard for me. Even now, I want to find some way to avert my eyes, pretend it didn’t really happen. Convince myself that they did not strip you completely, that they left you with some shred of dignity. But somehow, I don’t think they did. This business of being stripped of one’s dignity is more than I can bear. As we walk this path together, I become aware of how much I protect myself to maintain my own dignity. I become aware of how I strip others of their dignity. As we walk this path together, help me look at you and to see that even though they could strip you of you clothing, they could not strip you of your true identity. Help me to root my identity more completely in you so I know that ultimately I have nothing to lose. Silence.
Lord, in your mercy…hear our prayer.

Station Eleven: Jesus Nailed to the Cross

John 19:18
There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, with Jesus between them.

Luke 23:33-34
When they came to the place that is called The Skull, they crucified Jesus there with the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” And they cast lots to divide his clothing.

Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, our Teacher on the Way, the time has come. The moment to which your whole life has been leading. I look to you and see that you are not afraid. You are resolute and committed and I am in awe of what I see. Is there any word that could come from my mouth, any sentence that could capture what is happening now? You die for me, you give your all for my sins, you become the Man of Sorrows so that I can have joy. AS we walk this path together, I learn that sometimes there are no words… Silence.
Lord, in your mercy…hear our prayer.

Station Twelve: Jesus Dies on the Cross

Luke 23:44-46
It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, while the suns light failed; and the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Then Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” Having said this, he breathed his last.

John 19:30
When Jesus had received the wine, he said, “It is finished.” Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, our Teacher on the Way, how did you know when it was time to let go? How did you know when you had suffered enough and could finally and completely commend your spirit into God’s hand? I confess taht I don’t always know when to let go. I cling and grasp for every last straw. I do not lay my life down willingly and so it has to be wrenched from me and that always hurts more. As we walk this path together, teach me how to let go when it is time. Teach me to relinquish that very last breath of a thing that I think is mine to claim in this life so that I can live in total abandonment to you. But even in this, help me not force what I cannot be or jump ahead of where I really am. When it is time, show me how to do what I do not yet know how to do. Silence.
The Lords Prayer
Lord, in your mercy…hear our prayer.

Station Thirteen: The Body of Jesus Taken from the Cross

Ezekiel 37:12-14
Therefore prophesy, and say to them, “Thus says the Lord God: I am going to open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people; and I will bring you back to the land of Israel. And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people. I will put my spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you on your own soil; then you shall know that I, the Lord, have spoken and will act,” says the Lord.

John 19:33-38
But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. Instead, one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once blood and water came out. (He who saw this has testified so that you also may believe. His testimony is true, and he knows that he tells the truth.) These things occurred so that the scripture might be fulfilled, “None of his bones shall be broken.” And again another passage of scripture says, “They will look on the one whom they have pierced.” After these things, Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, though a secret one because of his fear of the Jews, asked Pilate to let him take away the body of Jesus. Pilate gave him permission; so he came and removed his body.

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Caiaphas’ House

We started this morning at the house of Caiaphas. Caiaphas was the High Priest during the time of Jesus. This is the account of what happened at Caiaphas’ from Matthew 26.
“Those who had arrested Jesus took him to Caiaphas the high priest, where the teachers of the law and the elders had assembled. But Peter followed him at a distance, right up to the courtyard of the high priest. He entered and sat down with the guards to see the outcome. The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for false evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death. But they did not find any, though many false witnesses came forward. Finally two came forward and declared, “This fellow said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God and rebuild it in three days.’ ” Then the high priest stood up and said to Jesus, “Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you?” But Jesus remained silent. The high priest said to him, “I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God.” “You have said so,” Jesus replied. “But I say to all of you: From now on you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.” Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “He has spoken blasphemy! Why do we need any more witnesses? Look, now you have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?” “He is worthy of death,” they answered. Then they spit in his face and struck him with their fists. Others slapped him and said, “Prophesy to us, Messiah. Who hit you?” Now Peter was sitting out in the courtyard, and a servant girl came to him. “You also were with Jesus of Galilee,” she said. But he denied it before them all. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said. Then he went out to the gateway, where another servant girl saw him and said to the people there, “This fellow was with Jesus of Nazareth.” He denied it again, with an oath: “I don’t know the man!” After a little while, those standing there went up to Peter and said, “Surely you are one of them; your accent gives you away.” Then he began to call down curses, and he swore to them, “I don’t know the man!” Immediately a rooster crowed. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken: “Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly.” (Matthew 26:57-75 NIV)
The pictures here are of a cistern (dungeon) in Caiaphas’ house that Jesus would have been held in alone. A rock wall from the original house that a church is now built over. The 1st century steps that 100% were the steps that Jesus would have walked up to Caiaphas’ house to be judged and then back down to be led away to Face his formal trial before Pilate the governor. Lastly is a statue of Peter’s denial and the rooster crowing in the courtyard of Caiaphas’ house.20130601-230820.jpg

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Bringing in the Jewish Sabbath at the Western Wall

This evening was an evening with a lot of mixed emotion for me. Every Friday at sun down the Jewish people welcome in the sabbath with prayer, singing, and dancing at the Western Wall of the old temple in Jerusalem and tonight, we joined them! Culturally I enjoyed the experience very very much. I mean there were literally thousands of people there celebrating and praying. It was like a massive pep rally for people celebrating God and waiting on the Messiah. It was fascinating watching people of all ages and from all over the world bring in the sabbath. The part that broke my heart was how they were longing for their Messiah, not recognizing that He already had come. I just kept praying, “Lord, open the eyes of their hearts to see that their Messiah (savior/rescuer) has already came!” The One they so badly are longing for, has come and they missed Him. He fulfilled every single prophecy in the Old Testament and they missed Him. Oh, how my heart breaks for my Jewish brothers and sisters tonight! Thinking of Romans 11. Thankful that I know the Messiah and He has radically impacted my life now and forever!!!

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The Garden of Gethsemane

Wow…this may have been the most powerful experience of the entire trip for me. We got to spend about 45 minutes in a quiet, private area of the Garden of Gethsemane just praying and listening to God by ourselves. As I read back through the gospel accounts of The Garden of Gethsemane, I just kept looking around going, “I can not believe that I am sitting right here under one of these olive trees. Many of the trees in Gethsemane are over 2000 years old, which means they would have been there the night Jesus prayed, struggled, and sweat blood as Judas betrayed him and He was arrested.
Those 45 minutes went by way too fast and it was such a thin place for me, where I sensed the presence of God and heard as He spoke to my heart. I don’t think I will ever forget my time with The Lord in that garden! I did not want to leave!

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The Mount of Olives where Jesus Wept

After the Garden Tomb we went up to the Mount of Olives. About a week before his death and resurrection, Jesus rode in to Jerusalem on a donkey to crowds chanting “Hosanna,” which is a special word of praise for the Messiah (Savior). It’s what we call the Triumphal Entry. Read Luke 19 to see what happened next.
“When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen: “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!” “I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.” As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes. The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.” (Luke 19:37-44 NIV)
These pictures are the view that Jesus would have had of Jerusalem. Except the camel, of course, which is for Ruthie, Canaan, and Lily…look guys I found Humphrey in Jerusalem!

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Garden Tomb

This morning we started off the morning visiting “The Garden Tomb.”. The Garden Tomb is a recent discovery in the 1800’s. It feels weird saying something that happened in the 1800’s is recent but for Israel standards, it is. There was an empty tomb that was unearthed in the 1800’s in a private garden area, some speculate that it could be the tomb of Jesus because it sits about 100 yards from this hill that looks like a skull, which is what the word Golgotha actually means. It’s likely that its not the place (the traditional and highly likely place we are visiting tomorrow). None the less it gave us a great picture of what Jesus’ tomb was like and who knows it justify be THE empty tomb! Also, I had the privilege of leading our team in our morning prayer and reading time this morning at the garden. We read most all of Matthew 26, 27, and 28 to prepare us as we spend the next 2 days following in the footsteps of Jesus during his last week. We ended our time praying Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 1
“I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms,” (Ephesians 1:17-20 NIV)

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The Dead Sea

I learned a few things about the Dead Sea.
#1 it’s salt content is so high that you literally float. It was on of the craziest things that I’ve ever experienced in water! Lol
#2 as soon as you get in the water, you immediately know where every little scratch or wound on your body is because it burns like crazy.
#3 never shave the morning that your going to swim in the Dead Sea.
#4 the mud from the Dead Sea makes your skin soft and you have to flex for a picture, because it makes any little muscle you have visible. Lol

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Kumran (and the caves of En Gedi)

After seeing Masada, we journeyed in our air conditioned bus 🙂 to Kumran where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found. If you are not familiar with the Dead Sea Scrolls, you should definitely google and read up on them…fascinating! One of the cool things we got to see on the way there were the caves of En Gedi where David hid from King Saul!

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Masada

We visited 3 places yesterday: Masada, Kumran, and the Dead Sea. Each one was a unique and great experience. We started at Masada which is an amazing mountain in the desert where King Herod built a massive palace and small city. About half our team decided to climb the mountain and the other half took a cable car lift to the top. It was an incredible challenge. Climbing a steep mountain, in the desert, with the sun beating down, while its 103 degrees (in the shade) may not have been the wisest thing to do…there were a couple of times when I thought someone might die of heat stroke or heart attack doing this, especially the older guys.20130601-002451.jpg20130601-002510.jpg

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