This was our final day both in Jerusalem and as a full group. The focus of the day was following the last hours of Jesus prior to His crucifixion. We went to Mt. Zion to the traditional place of the Upper Room. This sits on top of David's Tomb. Unfortunately, the Upper Room was locked and we could not enter. But we went up to the roof of the building, talked about the events of the evening, and saw a unique door to a small room. It was called the President's Room. And prior to 1967, this room was where the President of Israel would come annually to pray in the direction of the Western Wall since up until that time Jordan controlled East Jerusalem up to the area of the Zion Gate.
After visiting David's tomb, part of the group walked the route from the Upper Room through the Kidron Valley to the Garden of Gethsemane. The rest of the group met us there. Along the way we viewed the area of David's City, the original Jerusalem. We also saw a wire stretched on poles above us. This is called the aruv. Under the Jewish law you are not allowed to carry anything a certain distance outside your home on the sabbath nor travel far outside your home. In order to accommodate certain activities on the Sabbath, the rabbis declared all Jerusalem up to this line
everyone's home. And you could not travel more than a half mile outside that line. The area of Jesus' ascension at the top of the Mt. of Olives was a "sabbath's day walk."
We also saw a few massive tombs in the valley. While named after Biblical personalities, they were definitely first century tombs and probably were owned by some rich Jews in Jesus' day.
The Garden of Gethsemane reminded us of the passion of our Lord to fulfill His Father's will and to demonstrate His love for us. Some of the trees in that Garden were very old, and the roots of some may have been there the night Jesus sweat drops of blood. We then traveled to the home of Caiaphas the High Priest. We talked about Jesus' trial before the Sanhedrin and the dark hours He spent in the basement there. Herb Schoenfeld read Psalm 88 for us which ends "darkness is my closest friend."
After lunch we walked part of the Via Dolorosa, entering through the Herod Gate and exiting through the Damascus gate, having walked by the Antonio Fortress, the traditional place of Jesus' trial. Our final stop was the Garden Tomb outside the Damascus Gate. This large garden, located next to a bus terminal that has a rock formation that used to look like skull, includes indications that Christians worshipped here near the time of Jesus. While would Christians do that in the area of a Jewish tomb? The only conclusion is that this may be the place of the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea, the tomb of Jesus. We had communion together and worshipped Him who died and rose again!
Tomorrow, part of the group heads home and the rest of us head south to Eilat (and warmer weather).