In the footsteps of Jesus

Saturday, March 17th, Reported by Marge Hill

We started the day on the Via Dolorosa, visiting the Sister's of Zion convent where we saw the paving stones of the Antonia Fortress, and visiting the pool of Bethesda at St. Ann's Church. The acoustics inside the church are beautiful. We sang several songs and Roger accompanied us on his harmonica. We had the church all to ourselves.   paving stones

The most moving experience for me this day was our visit to the Church of St. Peter in Gallicantu, which is built on what is believed to be the foundations of the House of Caiaphas, the high priest of Jesus' day. In the bottom of the building we saw a cistern used as a prison, and a scourging area. Joan read Psalm 88:3-9:3

For my soul is full of troubles, And my life draws near to the grave.
I am counted with those who go down to the pit; I am like a man who has no strength,
Adrift among the dead, Like the slain who lie in the grave,
Whom You remember no more, And who are cut off from Your hand.
You have laid me in the lowest pit, In darkness, in the depths.
Your wrath lies heavy upon me, And You have afflicted me with all Your waves. Selah
You have put away my acquaintances far from me;
You have made me an abomination to them;
I am shut up, and I cannot get out;
My eye wastes away because of affliction. LORD, I have called daily upon You;

This is the first time I heard about Jesus being in a pit. Since I have studied this scripture I am moved to believe that Jesus was in that pit.

We also stopped at the southeast corner of the Temple Mount, which overlooks the Kidron Valley. It is believed by the Jews that the Messiah will come from the East, pass the Mount of Olives and continue through the Kidron Valley, entering by the East gate to the Temple Mount. Many Jews are buried on the Mount of Olives facing east so they will be able to escort the Messiah into Jerusalem. We saw three tombs carved into the hill: the pillar of Absalom and the tombs of James and Zacharia. Tombs on Mount of Olives
Church of the Holy         Sepulchre We arrived at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre just in time for a procession of church dignitaries accompanied by pealing church bells. The Citadel Museum gave us a presentation on the history of Jerusalem. The Model of first century Jerusalem at the Holyland Hotel was also very impressive.
Joan arranged for us to go to Bethlehem by contacting a merchant in the Old City who had family in Bethlehem. He called and found out it was quiet. So we took the bus to the checkpoint, walked across, and were met by taxicabs on the other side. They whisked us off to the Church of the Nativity which was unusually quiet. The number of tourists to Israel is down and only a few of those who do come actually make it to Bethlehem. The venders were very persistent, they get so few paying customers. Church of the Nativity
Jerusalem at night from          Haas Promenade In the evening, Mony gave us a special after dark tour of Jerusalem. We stopped at the Menorah which stands opposite the Knesset, the seat of Israel's parliament. The sculpture is modeled on the seven branched candelabrum from the Temple which the Jewish exiles carried to Rome. it depicts scene from the history of the Jewish people and is the official emblem of the state of Israel. Then we went to the Haas Promenade, which overlooks Jerusalem, all lit up.

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