|Our bus at the Seven Arches overlook on the Mount of Olives|
The Mount of Olives
Our trust bus driver, Johnny, took us up to the top of Mount of Olives, driving through the narrow lanes of the at-Tur neighborhood, where we spent so much time during our year here. We then gathered at the overlook area in front of the Seven Arches Hotel, which gives spectacular of the cemeteries on the slopes of the Mount of Olives, the Qidron Valley, the Old City, and the modern city of West Jerusalem beyond.
|The Jewish cemetery on the slopes of the Mount of Olives|
|Details of the Jewish cemetery; note rocks on top and the nephesh window|
|Close-up of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre (gray domes to the left) and the Dome of the Rock (gold dome to the right)|
|Walking down the route of the Triumphal Entry on the Mount of Olives|
|Our friends Bill and Ruby Beeston on the Palm Sunday route|
|The tracery window of Dominus Flevit|
At the end of our walk down the Mount of Olives, we arrived at the site of Gethsemane, which in Aramaic means "Place of the Olive Press." Before we visited the traditional garden and church on the south side of the lane, we first entered the private Franciscan garden on the north, which has been maintained as a place for groups to have private devotionals. Ours was quite lovely. While the olive trees here are young, the quiet setting allowed us to think about what Jesus did the last night of his life as he began his awe-inspiring atoning work.
My group gathered and began by singing "In Remembrance of Thy Suffering" and having an opening prayer. I then spoke for about a half hour, drawing upon thinking and writing I have done on the atonement over the years. After consecrating some olive oil, we sang "Reverently and Meekly Now" before having a closing prayer and having some quiet, individual time in the garden.
|The setting of our Gethsemane devotional|
We then walked across the lane to the main Gethsemane site, where there are a few olive trees perhaps 1,200 years old, which conceivably may have grown out of the roots of the original trees that were present when Jesus was here. Here sits the Basilica of the Agony, also known as the Church of All Nations, which is modern church that sits on the site of an earlier Crusader and still earlier Byzantine church. Its darkened interior seeks to recreate the scene of Jesus' prayer and suffering and features before its altar a rock that, by tradition, is where Jesus knelt as he prayed.
|View of the Temple Mount from Gethsemane. Prominent is the Golden Gate.|
|The Agony Stone|
At the Foot of the Temple Mount
|Sitting on the first century steps leading up to the Temple Mount. Mary, Joseph, Jesus, and the apostles would have used these very steps.|
|The southwest corner of the Temple Mount platform, one of the two candidates for the "pinnacle of the temple."|
|Remains of the springer of the Robinson's Arch that supported one of the main entrances to the temple|
|Proposed reconstruction of Robinson's Arch (Wikimedia Commons)|
|Stones cast down from the platform above, signs of the Roman destruction of A.D. 70. "There shall not be one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down" (Mark 13:2)|
After we passed through the remains of the Ummayad Palaces below the al Aqsa Mosque, we came to the area of steps that comprised the main entrance to the temple for the common people. Miqva`ot (ritual baths) have been discovered that were used to cleanse worshipers before entering the temple. A double and triple gate constituted the entrances and exits. The steps alternated shallow and deep, causing worshipers to ascend "with reverent steps and slow." Sitting upon the steps, we listened to Victor explain some of the historical aspects of the site, as well as the modern anecdote that John Glen when visiting this site said that walking here was greater to him than walking on the moon.
We then had a short, but meaningful, devotional. After reviewing that this was one of the few places where we can say "we walked where Jesus walked" (as opposed to walking twenty or more feet above where he walked!), I wondered allowed what we could learn from ancient practice as we tried to be more mindful and reverent in our own, modern temple worship. We sang "We Love Thy House O Lord" and then had some free time for pictures.
|With Rachel with part of the Double Gate that can still be seen|
|In front of the Triple Gate|
|Looking down at the remains of a miqveh, or ritual bath|
|The BYU Jerusalem Center is the arched building in the upper left|
We did not get video of the morning sites, so the following highlight collage is only of the afternoon sites that I describe below.
The Place of the Last Supper
We next visited the Cenacle, or Crusader building on the site of the traditional site of the Last Supper, and the Cenotaph of David's tomb underneath it before finding a quiet place where we could read the words of institution (Jesus' prayer on the bread and the wine) from Mark 14:22-25 and the Washing of Feet in John 13:1-15. We then sang "As I Have Loved You."
|The cenotaph recalling King David, courtesy of Wikipedia Commons|
The Church of Peter in Gallicantu
Our final visit of the day was St. Peter in Gallicantu, or "Peter of the Cock Crow." This modern church is based upon the remains of a first century palatial house where later Byzantines venerated basement storage rooms and stables that they believer were used as the dungeon and torture places of Christ when he was brought before the high priest Caiaphas and then held there until he was delivered to Pilate the next morning. Because it also remembers Peter's threefold denial of Jesus, it is also a church that commemorates sin, repentance, and forgiveness.
|Victor giving an explanation in the upper chapel of Peter in Gallicantu|
|The so-called "Sacred Pit" where some believe Jesus was held for the night after the examination before the Sanhedrin and before being taken before Pilate.|
|Reading Psalm 88|
|The place in the "stable" area where some believe Jesus was tied while he was beaten|
|The Sacred Stairs, a first century ascent from the Qidron Valley to the Upper City where Jesus would have descended a free man after the Last Supper and ascended later as an arrested criminal.|
|View of the Temple Mount from St. Peter's|