Boy are our legs tired. We have had two very full days of over 20,000 steps each. But our hearts are full and this group has stepped up admirably. (No pun intended) Today we left a little after 7:00 am so we could beat the line to go up on the Temple Mount. As Nir explained the history and tensions of this sacred spot, the area was filled with groups of Muslim men and women who were reading the Quran and praying. A group of Jewish students entered the mount and the crowd started shouting Allah Akbar. It was not frightening to us, just interesting. We continued to walk and see the bedrock stones we know were there when Jesus walked in this same location. We discussed the two possibilities of the location of the Temple. The view of the Mount of Olives from here reminded us that Jesus one day will return on that mountain and walk into the city through the Eastern gate.
Before exiting through the Lion's Gate, we stopped by the Pool of Bethesda and St. Anne's Church. We sang to the beautiful echoes in the church. By the pool we read the story of the healing of the paralytic in John 5. We discussed how it is vital for us and others to answer the question Jesus asked, "Do you want to get well?"
A short bus ride later, we found ourselves wandering from the Jaffa Gate, through part of the Muslim and Armenian quarters to the Jewish quarter. We stood on the roof of a public section of that quarter and reoriented ourselves with everything we had visited so far. We then walked to see a section of the wall from the time of King Hezekiah and how he expanded the wall to include the upper hill. Following a walk down the cardo, or marketplace center of the city in Jesus day, we visited the Herodian house. This was the home of a rich Jewish family at the time the Romans destroyed Jerusalem in 70 AD. There were gorgeous mosaic floors, bath tubs, two ritual baths and evidence of expensive glassware and of the fire that destroyed the house.
Following lunch, we had the privilege of placing prayer requests from hundreds of others in the Western Wall and praying over them. It was a sacred moment for us. We then followed the rabbinical tunnel along the path Jesus would have been taken to be tried by Pilate. We ended our day by following the Via Dolorosa all the way to Calvary and the tomb in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. What God did powerfully and naturally men do religiously and ornately.
Tomorrow will be an easier day but still very meaningful. Here are some pictures from today.