Today's story will be a little different because we didn't travel with a guide today. We stated by taking a bus to the Damascus Gate. Once inside the city walls, we went to station 8 and went to a new upstairs chapel for Sunday worship and Communion.
After worship, we went to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the place where Jesus was buried. We were not allowed to take pictures inside the tomb. Four people could go in at one time and we were allowed to stay for about twenty seconds. Behind us was a glass in the wall of the tomb where the remains of the rock that sealed the tomb.
Outside the tomb, we visited the rest of the church and knelt at the table of unction. This is believed to be the table where Jesus’ body lay in preparation for burial.
After that, we were free to roam around the city. It took us about 1 ½ hours waiting to get in the tomb so we were hungry. Not sure about a “safe” place to eat, we decided to head over t Jacob’s Pizza. It wasn’t bad. The bread was a little more like pita bread than pizza dough, but it was good.
Thent we went to the Joppa Gate and walked the wall that surrounded the city of Jerusalem. We went about half way around the city when we found the rest of the wall was closed so we had to head down into the shops.
There were so many shops, some of which had some interesting items. There were the usual with scarves and olive wood. Then there were others selling spices, fish and chicken. No pork, no bacon. Then there were places dedicated to American tourists. There was one shop that had nothing but University of Alabama items. Then there was one selling T shirts from American sports teams.
We tried to get onto the grounds of the Dome of the Rock but were stopped by police. There are only certain times of the day it is open to non-Muslims. We either had to go back the way we came or outside the walls and walk around to another gate. We ended up walking through the Islamic cemetery. This gave us the perfect view of the Mount of Olives. I am standing about 50 feet from the Golden Gate. This is the gate Jesus entered the city from on Palm Sunday. Several of the gates were opened and closed arbitrarily by Solomon the Great. This one is one of them that remained closed.
What you see in front of the gate is a Muslim cemetery.
From this picture, you can see many of the sites of Jesus’ last night. The Mount of Olives is in the top center of the picture just above and to the right of the golden domes, the Russian Church of Mary Magdalene. In the middle left of the picture is Church of All Nations, the church that stands out the best. Immediately to the left of the church is the Garden of Gethsemane. The bottom part of the picture is the Kidron Valley.
On Palm Sunday, Jesus came down from the Mount of Olives through the Kidron Valley and through the Golden Gate where this picture was taken from. On his last night, he left the Upper Room, came to the Pool of Saloam and out the gate down into the lower section of the Kidron Valley (out of the picture in the lower left). He came through the Kidron Valley up to the Garden of Gethsemane where he was arrested.
The thing about all this is, I always imagined this to be a much greater distance. It is not. The Temple Mount can be seen from the Mount of Olives and Gethsemane and vice versa.
We then traveled back to our hotel on Mount Zion. Tune in Tomorrow as we travel the Via Delorosa - The Way of Suffering.