Today we began with quiet time for Scripture reading and prayer journaling, followed by another fantastic breakfast buffet. We ate enthusiastically, fortifying ourselves for the challenge of walking the streets of the Old City and climbing the Mount of Olives. The combination of great fresh food and lots of exercises makes The Footsteps of Jesus Experience double as a membership at the gym!
Then we headed out for an overview of Jerusalem and some reflection on the world in which Jesus lived, particularly the temporal and religious leaders of his time. Overlooking the remains of the massive Temple Mount which Herod dramatically expanded, we considered how different the authority and power of Herod, the Pharisees, and the Sadducees was compared to Jesus' authority and power.
We headed out of the city walls through the aptly named Dung Gate and walked around the southeast end of the Temple Mount, dropping into the dramatic Kidron Valley. Passing by the mis-named Tombs of the Prophets we noted that Jesus and the disciples would have passed these monuments as well on their walk from the Upper Room to the Garden of Gethsemane.
Crossing the Kidron Valley we began to make our way up the western slope of the Mount of Olives, passing by the Garden of Gethsemane. As we made the arduous climb the city of Jerusalem began to spread out before us. Sitting under some fir trees in the courtyard of the ancient Dominus Flevit Church we contemplated the Temple Mount, built over the peak of Mount Moriah, also called Mount Zion. As we worshiped and read the account of Abraham bringing his only son here to sacrifice him we couldn't help but consider how the God who offered oneness to Abraham in Covenant also offered his son on a nearby rock called Golgotha.
Making our way back down into the Kidron Valley and back into the Old City through St. Stephen's Gate we followed the Via Dolorosa to a favorite restaurant where we enjoyed lunch and cooled off with delicious lemon and mint iced drinks. As the group went back to the Lutheran Guesthouse to rest, Pam and I went shopping for lunch the next day ....
With a clearer picture of the religious leaders of Jesus' time we look forward to our continued exploration of the world of Jesus tomorrow!