Mount of Olives panorama

Mount of Olives panorama
A panoramic view of the Mount of Olives

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Last Week Walk W2012, Day 2

Today's last week walk was actually a last hours walk.  We began in Gethsemane (Holy Thursday) and ended in the Garden Tomb, where we commemorated the crucifixion (Good Friday) and the resurrection (Easter Sunday).  Several students commented that this set the seal on what they had studied, learned, and felt these last two months.  It all culminating and experience Holy Week here in Jerusalem two weeks ago, studying the Passion and Resurrection Narratives through last week, and then walking through the sites together these last two days.

As I mentioned yesterday, as a teacher I have been rewarded by hearing my students read, teach, and witness at each of these sites rather than being the one doing all the talking.


  • Jarom Robertson (Luke 22:39–44; see God So Loved the World, 62–63, including intro to “Reverently and Meekly”)
  • Hymn 185, “Reverently and Meekly Now”
    Carrie Fox (Mark 14:43–50; see GSLW, 63–65, 66, esp. “Jesus’ Lonely Atoning Journey”)
  • 20 minutes of quiet time in the Basilica of the Agony, reading the Gethsemane accounts and pondering while a small Catholic pilgrim group celebrated mass
Garden of Gethsemane

Mosaic of Jesus praying in Gethsemane inside the Basilica of the Agony

Pediment of the Basilica of the Agony

Qidron Valley Walk

We walked through the Qidron (often spelled "Kidron" or, in the KJV, "Cedron") Valley on our way to Mount Zion and the Church of St. Peter in Gallicantu.  Walking this same route with Elaine in Maundy Thursday candlelight procession really made me rethink this walk.  In the past, we have hurried to get from Point A (Gethsemane) to Point B (St. Peter's).  But today we stopped at the bottom and talked about how it would have been for Jesus to have been arrested and then escorted/dragged through this valley on the way to a night full of abuse and show trials.

So down by the famous tombs, such as the so-called Pillar of Absalom, we talked about Jesus passing this way a second time (having walked through the valley a few hours earlier after the Last Supper), passing through the graveyards and realizing what waited him. I read Palm 23, and we talked about how all of it, not just the obvious, "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death," would have applied to him that terrible night.

The students heading down into the Qidron Valley

The bottom of the Qidron under the Golden Gate of the Temple Mount
The "Pillar of Absalom," a Second Temple period grand tomb in the Qidron

The pinnacle of the Temple mount looms over the Qidron

Students heading up out of the Qidron

St. Peter's in Gallicantu
  • Kyle Miller (Mark 14:54, 66–72; see GSLW, 68–69 on “Peter’s Betrayal”)
    Hymn 130, “Be Thou Humble”
St. Peter's "of the cock crow," built on the possible site of Caiaphas' palace and commemorating the denial of Peter
First century steps leading up from the Qidron to St. Peter's
Kyle teaching in the archaeological remains at St. Peter's

Dr. Harper's class in the "Sacred Pit" where prisoners were kept and which might have held Christ

The Praetorium?

The walled Armenian lots where Herod's palace used to lie
There is an ongoing debate as to the location of the praetorium, or Roman headquarters, at the time of Jesus.  Later Christian tradition put it at the site of the former Fortress Antonia next to the temple because a Roman garrison had been located there.  But ancient sources actually suggest that when Herod's kingdom was converted into a Roman province in A.D. 6, his palace on the west side of the city became the governor's residence. When Jesus was sent to "Herod" (sc. Herod Antipas) in Luke 23:7-11, Luke never uses the word "palace."  Antipas would not have had possession of his father's former royal residence, and some have suggested perhaps he would have been in the former Hasmonean palace mid-city.

First group pic by the Citadel after I had read from John 18 and 19
I incline strongly to this position, so I walked to our next sites by entering Zion's Gate, turning left, and walking through the Armenian Quarter to the Citadel or "Tower of David."  The walled but otherwise open Armenian lots to the south of the Citadel cover most of the same ground as Herod's once great palace.  The towers of the Citadel itself are built on the foundations of Herod's own great towers at the north of his palace.

Standing in front of the Citadel, I read passages from John 18 and 19 about Jesus before the Roman governor Pilate.  It seemed to add an element of historicity to the story that felt good.  We then walked Omar Ibn El-Khattab (David Street) to Muristan Road, passing just east of the Holy Sepulchre, perhaps following the actual route Jesus took to the cross, before heading on to the Via Dolorosa, the traditional route.

Second group pic in front of the Citadel

We passed another pilgrim group doing a Stations of the Cross procession

The fifth station of the cross: "The cross is placed on Simon of Cyrene"

The so-called Ecce Homo, or "Behold the Man" arch (it is actually a remnant of an arch of Hadrian that dates to after A.D. 135, but medieval Christians imagined Pilate standing on it presenting Christ to the crowds)

Churches of the Condemnation and Flagellation

Church of the Condemnation
  • Rebecca Holland (Mark 15:1–14; see GSLW, 77, esp. on “The Problem of Culpability”)
Rebecca teaching in the Church of the Condemnation
The cupola of the Church of the Condemnation
Church of the Flagellation
  • Jon Bradshaw (Matthew 27:26–31; GSLW, 78 and 76, “Man of Sorrows” and background of “O Savior, Thou Who Wearest”
  • Hymn 197, “O Savior, Thou Who Wearest a Crown”

Jon teaching in the Church of the Flagellation

Pilate washing his hands

Jesus being scourged and abused
Barabbas being released
The crown of thorns in the cupola of the Church of the Flagellation
St. Anne's

Our visit to St. Anne's at the top of the Via Dolorosa near Lion's Gate is technically out of sequence.  t is built near the remains of the Pool of Bethesda as a replacement for the earlier Byzantine and Crusader churches that were actually built on the dam or causeway in the middle of the two pools.  But somehow recounting Jesus' role healing the Lame Man at the Pool of Bethseda from John 5 seemed appropriate.  In addition to the saving power of the atonement, we all need, and enjoy, its healing power.
  • Huntsman on John 5:1–9
    Hymn 122, “Though Deepening Trials”
Remains of the Byzantine and Crusader churches

The Pool of Bethseda . .  deeper than we usually imagine!
Afterwards we joined the other class inside St. Anne's, where we did lots and lots of singing, which the students always enjoy.

Crystal Myler leads the students

A Brief Beak

We ate our lunches on the grounds of St. Anne's and then had until 2:30 free.  After resting at St. Anne's  I joined some students on the roof of the Austrian Hospice so that they could get their last look at the Old City from that vantage point.  We then hurried out the Damascus Gate and up Nablus Road to the Garden Tomb.

Dudes on the Hospice Roof: with Mark, Logan, Jared, and Ale

Garden Tomb

Our last stop was the Garden Tomb, which is a nice place to commemorate the crowning events of our Lord's life and atonement.
  • Bryson Toth (John 19:17–30; see GSLW, 84–85)
  • Hymn 184, “Upon the Cross of Calvary”
  • Hymn 191, “Behold the Great Redeemer Die”
  • Annalise Harker (John 20:1–2, 11–18; see GSLW, 111, 114, on witnesses of the Resurrection and esp. Mary Magdalene as a model witness).
  • Hymn 199, “He Is Risen”
  • Hymn 200, “Christ the Lord Is Risen Today”
In addition to what I had scheduled (above) we had a nice greeting from Victor, the director of the board of governors of the Garden Tomb Association, who was visiting from London.  I also made some remarks after Bryson's reading and testimony, quoting 1 Corinthians 1:18, 21-23; 2:2 as well as Romans 5: 1-11.

There were a fair number of tears by the end of our devotional.  Most of them came from the spirit, as people were moved by what Jesus has done for us.  But there was also the realization that they are leaving this place that they have grown to love so much.  I challenged the students to take the memories of the places and the things that they have felt home with them, to use it in their witnessing, in the raising of their families, and the rest of their lives.

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