My favorite day of the Israel tour had the most spiritual emphasis: We retraced the final day of Jesus's life and learned about the events leading up to His crucifixion, burial, and resurrection. Since Jesus lived about 2,000 years ago, it's hard to verify exactly where these events occurred (and there has been religious controversy about holy places over the centuries), but archeologists, historians, and religious leaders look at evidence and do their best to identify possible locations. It was all very fascinating.
We started the day at an upper room in Jerusalem similar to the one in which Jesus and his disciples had their Last Supper. While sitting in that upper room, our guide told us about the Jewish Passover, and it was very interesting to see how Christ did not destroy Jewish traditions, but instead revised and explained them. For example, they already had a tradition of breaking bread and drinking wine with Passover dinner; Jesus just further explained its symbolic significance as His body and blood.
After the upper room, we went to a beautiful, secluded “Prayer Garden” on the Mount of Olives, overlooking Jerusalem, and read about/discussed the suffering of Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane. We also saw a church that some Christians believe is near the place where the Atonement occurred.
After Gethsemane, we went to Caiphus’s Palace (which is now a lovely Catholic church) and discussed Jewish law vs. Roman law and how the chief priests of Christ’s time did not follow Jewish law in His trial.
Finally, we did a little of the “Villa Delarosa” (or final walk of Christ) from the remains of the Antonia Fortress (where he was condemned by Pilate) to Golgotha and the Garden Tomb. We went to a church in the Old City of Jerusalem called the Church of the Holy Sepulcher that has been traditionally identified as the site of Christ’s crucifixion, burial, and Resurrection.
We also went to a different area just outside the city walls which many religious groups and archeologists believe is actually the place where those final, sacred events of Christ's life occurred. It was so so so lovely there--the highlight of the trip. I have to say, for me, the most spiritual moment of the entire tour was the moment that I first saw the Garden Tomb. The guide was giving his speech, and all of the sudden, he said, “And when they found a tomb that dates back to 1st century A.D....”and motioned with his arm. I glanced over---and there it was. Just like that. I felt like I lost my breath for a second, and all I could think was, “He was here.” I felt humbled and amazed and sure...all at once.
Seeing the physical evidences of Christ and His work during the past week has immensely changed and strengthened my belief in Him.
Thanks, Dad, for such a life-changing experience!