To read about our trip from the beginning, start here.
Today, Good Friday, I am posting our adventures from Day 7. Once again, our tour could not have been planned better in anticipation of Easter this year. On this day, we remembered what happened 2,000 years ago on the first Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday!
We started the day at the Damascus Gate where we saw the ruins of the gate from the time of the Roman Emperor Hadrian (135 AD) . Our guide Ron also explained to us an interesting feature of all of the gates to the old city. Going through each gate, sometimes there is an area within the gate building itself, but you always have to turn right to enter the city. This is because invading soldiers would have their sword in their right hands and shield in their left. When you have to go around a corner on your right, it is harder to protect yourself with your shield! Pretty smart thinking, guys! There were ladies inside the gate bargaining over some grape leaves, and then the old city market in the Christian and Muslim quarters.
Next stop was the best stop of the entire trip. We visited the Garden Tomb. And, surprise, it’s empty!!! Now of course, this may not be the exact tomb, but it is highly likely that this is indeed the tomb where Jesus’ body laid for 3 days. Just a few steps away is the area we believe is Golgatha, the place of the skull, which is outside of the city walls. This is consistent with Jewish custom that death sentences would be executed outside the city walls, and the bodies buried on the far outskirts of the city. Today it is a bit hard to see the shape of the skull in the cliff-side, due to weathering and a recent earthquake, but you can see some historical photos here that more clearly show the shape. Unfortunately, the area directly under the cliff-side is now an Armenian bus stop *facepalm*. Golgatha is also right next to where they found a very large garden, which had a tomb carved into the rocks. The tomb itself, is also laid out in a way that would suggest it is the actual tomb. The entry is to a larger chamber, with two smaller chambers to the right, and there is a groove outside where a large stone could be rolled in front of the entrance. There is quite a bit more evidence supporting this theory, and you can read about it here.
We had a free afternoon to explore Jerusalem! Patty, Mom, and I decided to go check out some more of the Old City. Our main goal, was to find the Lion’s Gate, because my sister had told us about it before we left on the trip, so we wanted to make sure and grab a picture with it. Of course, we had walked by it the other day, but Ron had us “chick chocking” all around the city, so we didn’t have time to stop and take any pictures. So today, I became our fearless leader, and we snaked our way through the Muslim quarter until we finally found the gate! Then we snaked our way back through (I had no clue which way we were heading, but you gotta fake it till you make it!), and we found a cute little cafe to stop at for lunch. After that, we continued exploring the markets in the Muslim and Jewish quarters. Since we still had quite a bit of time before we needed to meet back with the guides, I went off to the Ben Yehuda pedestrian street. This was quite a bit newer than the markets in the Old City, and I ran into some of the others from our trip!
Our evening was definitely the most important on the entire trip. We all returned to the Garden Tomb for a service and the Lord’s Supper. Pastor Jeffress spoke from directly in front of the empty tomb about Matthew 28 and the significance of the empty tomb:
- Christ died for our sins, just as He said
- Christ conquered death, just as He said
- Christ will deliver us from death, just as He said
We sang there in front of the empty tomb, we sang as a part of the Lord’s Supper, and we sang in front of Golgotha, over the Armenian bus stop.
That night was our last night all together in Jerusalem, so we decided to go check out the rich King David Hotel and the most beautiful YMCA in the world.
And that was the end of the seventh day! To be continued…
Read about Day 8 here.