Day 11 - Jesus’ Triumphal Entry

Our first day back in Jerusalem was filled with new experiences and insights as we retraced Jesus' steps into Bethany, over the Mount of Olives, and into the Holy City on Palm Sunday. We started in the ancient city of Bethany, just 1 3/4 miles east of Jerusalem, where Jesus had a kind of second extended family with Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. Near the tomb where Jesus called Lazarus back to life we also reflected on Mary's decision to choose the better part by sitting at Jesus' feet and her bold act of devotion when she anointed Jesus with expensive oil. On the Mount of Olives we visited the ruins of the great church built by Constantine's mother Helena and recounted the teaching Jesus gave on this ridge overlooking the city, promising his return in glory at the end of history. We then had a time of worship in the place where Jesus wept over the city and proceeded to walk the very route down the mountain that Jesus and his disciples followed as crowds of Passover pilgrims shouted "Hosanna!" After a tasty lunch of shewarma and middle eastern pastries, we headed over to the Pools of Bethesda and saw how much the archaeological discoveries there confirm and illuminate John's account of Jesus healing the paralyzed man. As we sense the conclusion of our spiritual journey drawing closer we are aware that the most dramatic and significant events of Jesus' life are still to come ...

In Bethany we visited the beautiful little church built next to the tomb of Lazarus. Visiting Bethany has become much more difficult since the Israeli government has built a separation wall which now runs between this village and Jerusalem.

The colorful mosaics inside the church of Lazarus in Bethany recount the amazing events that took place there, including Jesus' powerful statement, "I am the resurrection and the life" just before raising Lazarus from the dead!

The massive ruins of the Constantinian Church of the Ascension on the Mount of Olives now enclose a lovely garden where Jesus' teachings overlooking the city of Jerusalem are remembered. 

Inside the Church of the Ascension we reflected on Jesus' mysterious and hopeful teaching about the end of the world and God's final victory over sin, death, hell, and the devil.

At the Pools of Bethesda we were able to distinguish between the pair of huge water storage pools (seen here) and the smaller pools nearby which made up a pagan healing shrine where crowds of people were hoping to be healed. We reflected on the provocative implications of Jesus entering such a pagan context and the amazing grace of his healing a man who expressed no faith in or knowledge of Jesus!

We concluded our visit to the Pools of Bethseda with a visit to the beautifully preserved thousand year-old Church of Saint Anne and enjoyed the ringing sounds of its perfect acoustics by singing a worship chorus.