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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

3rd Weekend Tour Part Two

After we left the Church of the Nativity we headed to Mt. Zion.....well what they think is Mt. Zion. Since the Jerusalem gates have been added onto and revised no one is quite sure where Mt. Zion is. They think thats it location may have been moved during the intertestamental period. However, we know that this is Mt. Mariah and therefore we are headed to visit the traditional upper room. We walk through narrow streets in between several churches and along the Zion gate of Jerusalem. The upper room is very ornate in architecture and our tour guide immediately points out that its Crusader style. There aren't any other "traditional upper rooms" but there is not consistency with this room being it. Also, below it is the traditional tomb of King David. However, that doesnt' fit well either since Mt. Zion is now outside the city gate of Jerusalem and we know he was buried inside. The only reason that this is known as the upper room is because of a Mideval Age tradition that recognized this building as the first church on this mountain. So who knows?
Then we go to an outlook where I got several great panoramic shots of Jerusalem, the Kidron valley, the Mount of Olives, Silwan and some of the northwest part of Jerusalem ( new city)
After that we walk down the mountain to the House of Caiphas. We know that this mountain has always been Mt. Mariah and that means that here Jesus would have been led to Ciaphas's house to be held after Judas betrayed him, that here Abraham would have been instructed to sacrifice Isaac and Peter probably denied Christ three times. Beside Caiphas's house there is a staircase that dates back to the First Temple period and one of very few places where we have access to intact First Temple architecture. Therefore, Jesus very likely walked these steps whether as he was being led to Ciaphas or while walking around Jerusalem...SO AWESOME. They are excavating village remains on either sides of these staircases ( see pictures).
Next we visited the Garden Tomb. Our tour guide starts off by telling us that Golgotha means skull and in this side of a hill is the appearance of a skull. The current bus station right beside this hill used to be a quarry and was right beside a busy Roman road. This would have been an ideal spot to crucify Christ so that everyone would see him as they passed and mock him..which is what the Romans wanted. We are told in scripture that he was mocked and spit on while on the cross.
The spot of land that now houses the Garden Tomb was bought for 2,000 lbs by the British is 1894. It was first discovered by a Greek man in 1867 and he found what he thought was a cistern , but was later found to be a wealthy tomb. He sold it to the british after giving up on the excavation of the cistern.
This spot is right outside the city gates of Jerusalem and in Hebrews we are told that "outside the city He suffered".
What we know from the Bible that leads us to this tomb is that Joseph of Arimethea was rich well known man and had a tomb by a garden. He is the one who asked for Jesus's body and gave up his own tomb for Him.
We also know that criminals in the bible days got massive graves ( the romans tried him as a criminal) however, in Isaiah 53 we are told that "He will be the rich in His death"....so yet another prophecy was fulfilled when Christ was laid in Joseph of Arimethea's tomb.
The New Testament tells us that the tomb was cut out of rock and had a large stone rolled in front of the entrance...this tomb fits that criteria though no large rock to hide the entrance was ever found.
As we entered the tomb we could hear tons of groups having thier own worship services in the gardens nearby. Talk about getting a taste of HEAVEN....we had some people singing "Thats why we praise him, thats why we sing"...in another language..i just recognized the tune. Then you had an African American pastor leading a sermon to a group of people yelling "Amen, Hallelujah". There were several of us who couldn't keep it together..and rightfully so.
As you enter the tomb you see a sign on the door that says " He is not here, for He is Risen". In front of you there is a small room where the family could mourn for the body before leaving it in the tomb. Then to the right you have three small sections. To the left would be where they would lay the body. In the middle ( i forget what this is for, sorry) and to the right is another bench.
So the women who came to the Tomb to care for His body would have entered and immediately been able to see his neatly folded linens laying where the body was. Then as the men came back with them they would have had to enter the tomb completely to see the Angel sitting around the corner. AWESOME.
Ill blog later about the arguments for this site and the Church of the Holy Selpechur and why different people believe each one is the true site for Christs tomb.

Pictures of all of this.

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