The following day, we checked out of Nazareth, and headed northwards to Haifa. We went to Mt. Carmel along the way (right pic), where Elijah defeated the prophets of baal. The chapel on the hill was really beautiful. We ended up in Jaffa, where Peter had the vision of the food coming down from heaven on the roof of a house. We visited one of the many purported homes where this vision took place, and by dusk, we had reached Jerusalem and settled in our hotel.
The next day was one of the most moving days for me. We began by walking along the Via Dolorosa, or “the street of sorrows” in the old city of Jerusalem. This is the best approximation which can be created of the way Jesus took from the time his judgment was pronounced to the time of his crucification (because Saladin created the third wall, and there are new shops and whatnot). I was choked up almost all the time.
We couldn’t go into the first station, the place where Pontius Pilate condemned Jesus, because it’s now a school. So we stood outside, then headed to the 2nd station, the chapel of condemnation and flagellation (name speaks for itself) and the Lithostrotos (left pic), where he received the crown of thorns. These looked amazingly similar to how it was portrayed in Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ“.
Then we headed to the 3rd station (pic above), where Jesus falls under the weight of the cross for the first time. This is just a plaque along the street wall. The 4th station to the 9th station are all the same, just a little stone plaque to commemorate the place. By the 9th station, we were almost at the top of Calvary. On top of calvary now is a monolithic church (right pic), shared between the Greek Orthodox church and the Roman Catholic church. There is just so much sadness i felt there. I touched the ground on which Jesus was crucified, and visitors can view the crack in the hill which occurred when Jesus died (the whole of Calvary is pure rock!).
We also visited Bethlehem (pic above and mosque left), it was nice to visit the place of his birth after visiting the place of his death. We saw the cave where he was born, and had service in the field where the shepherds met the angels (right pic below – cave where the shepherds sheltered). The next day, we went to Mt Zion and Mt of Olives where Jesus taught us the Lord’s Prayer. We then did the Palm Sunday walk, which was also quite sad, esp the Basilica of the Agony next to the Garden of Gethsamene (pic further below). We visited a few other places, like Bethany, where there’s a church commemorating the home of Martha, Mary and Lazarus, and the Church of Peter Gallicantu (cock crow), where Peter denied Jesus. Inside that church is the actual prison cell where Jesus was kept.
It was such a moving experience. And you learn so much about certain things in the Bible which sometimes we don’t really question. For example, at the Bible Walk Garden (right pic), we learnt about the usual traditions and ways of the bedouins, which explained how Sarah overhead the angels talking to Abraham. We also learnt the usual Jewish custom, esp during the Passover, which also explained the seating arrangement which must have occurred during the last supper. We also learnt about the customs of shepherds in Jordan/Israel, which puts so much more depth to many pastoral parts of the Bible, esp Psalm 23.
It’s also worth the visit because the Christians there are a lot more “muhibbah” then I’ve ever seen anywhere else in the world. It’s really worth the visit, i encourage any of you who can go to make the trip.