It’s hard to believe that just two weeks ago, Doug and I were in the Holy Land—in person. Since I’ve been home, I discovered something interesting: that we were in Jerusalem, following the paths where Jesus walked, likely on the every same calendar days He did during His Passion Week (April 1-3)! That’s simply mind boggling to me!
I’m still processing my take-aways from the journey. It was definitely moving and thought-provoking on a number of levels, to experience the Holy Land of today with all its historical, spiritual, cultural, and even political facets. In real time, all of that information and emotion comes flying at you at once, and it’s a bit overwhelming to process it there. So, you try to absorb everything you can, take lots of pictures, and then attempt to sort and process it all when you get home, which is what we’re doing!
Today, as I write this, it’s Good Friday, the day we remember Jesus’ crucifixion. I wanted to share a few more of my pictures and impressions (than I originally did on Facebook) from those days we spent visiting the sites of His last days: where He was betrayed, tried, tortured, and executed to be the ultimate sacrificial lamb for mankind. I hope I’m able to pass along the poignant feelings of wonder and personal connection to the events surrounding Jesus’ resurrection and life that I’ve been able to feel in a fresh way because of this trip.
It was in these fields that the angels appeared to the shepherds to announce the birth of Jesus. This was not just any baby, and these were not just any shepherds. The shepherds who raised sheep on these hills would have been descended from the tribe of Levi, the genealogical line of priests who would offer the sacrifices in the temple to atone for the people’s sin. The perfect, unblemished lambs that could be purchased for sacrifice at the temple could only be those born within a five-mile radius of Jerusalem, and cared for by Levitical shepherds. How like God to think of every detail . . . that the perfect lamb of God who would take away the sin of the world, once and for all, would fulfill even this intricate criteria to be the Perfect Sacrifice!
At the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus “knelt down and began to pray, saying, “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done” (Luke 22:41-42). Ultimately, the Father’s will meant that Jesus would be betrayed by one of His own, and led away to Caiaphas, the High Priest, at night (which was illegal), where He was unjustly accused and tried.
Then it was back to Caiaphas’ house, where he was imprisoned in a pit, then brought out to this location for flogging. It was a terrible thing: 39 lashes with a multi-tailed leather whip, studded with sharp stones and bits of glass. He stood on this very floor, where the “Church of the Flagellation” now stands. These stones would have been covered in His blood, shed for us.
Finally, the long procession through the streets of Jerusalem to Golgotha, the site of the crucifixion. There He was nailed and hung and mocked until He surrendered His spirit to God, crying out, “Tetelestai, it is finished!” (John 19:30).
Then, ” . . . darkness fell over the whole land until the ninth hour, because the sun was obscured; and the veil of the temple was torn in two” (Luke 23:44-45).
The temple in Jerusalem was the center of Jewish religious life, the place where those perfect lambs I mentioned earlier were sacrificed for the sins of the people. A huge, heavy curtain separated the Holy of Holies—the earthly dwelling place of God’s Presence—from the rest of the temple. This signified that man was separated from God by sin. Only the high priest was permitted to pass beyond this veil once each year to enter into God’s Presence for all of Israel and make atonement for their sins. It was nearly 60 feet high and about four inches thick, fashioned from blue, purple, and scarlet material and fine twisted linen.
The size and thickness of the veil make the events occurring at the moment of Jesus’ death even more momentous. This was no human act! It was the very hand of God.
By the shedding of His blood and the surrender of His own life, Jesus, the perfect sacrificial lamb, provided a sufficient atonement for the sins of all of us. The tearing of the veil let us all know that now the way into the Holy of Holies was open for all people, for all time, both Jew and Gentile. Through Jesus, we can enter into the Holy of Holies every day: “We have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body” (Hebrews 10:19-20).
Now, back home, after all I’ve seen, I’m more convinced than ever of the great gift that has been given to us through Jesus’ death: that we can draw near to God, ourselves, simply by receiving in faith what He did for us.
Today, Good Friday, we remember that sacrifice. Thank You, Jesus. Thank You, thank You, thank You.
(c) 2019 Arlyn J. Lawrence. All Rights Reserved.
If you would like to read about all this yourself, the biblical account can be found in the New Testament of the Bible in Luke 23-24.
A wonderful first-hand account! It makes it more real to see the pictures. We were commenting that it always seems to rain on Good Friday & then it’s usually sunny on Sunday. Thank you for this, my dear.
I really enjoyed reading this.
Thanks, Alex! 🙂
Thank you, Arlyn, for bringing this momentous trip to us. Well done! Thoroughly enjoyed this! I’m spurred on to read more!
Powerful!! Thank you for sharing and allowing us to experience this with you.
I so enjoyed reading your thoughts and take always.
Thanks for commenting, Marcela! It’s always fun to get real comments on my little blog when I post. 🙂
Hi Arlyn. Thanks so much for sending your pictures and comments on your trip to the Holy Land. It must have a wonderful experience. It reminded me a bit of our visit to Ephesus which we took when we were on a Mediterranean cruise. Taking in the landscape as we traveled by bus was moving. We visited the House of Mary which is a Catholic and Muslim Shrine. It is said that St. Paul brought her there to live but I think it’s questionable.
We are both trying to keep well. Dick is having a few problems with his memory and also dealing with Leukemia. Unfortunately we can no longer travel. I will be 80 next month and David and Tiff are coming to help us celebrate. We are looking forward to seeing them.
I guess you will be having a family celebration tomorrow. You are so fortunate to have all your family close by. Wishing you and yours the blessings of Easter. Love, Aunt Ev and Uncle Dick
Thanks, Auntie Evie! So fun to hear from you! I’m glad you had the family close for Easter. We had ours too, a big crowd of 22 and an all-ages Easter egg hunt! Now we’ve just had Mother’s Day, which we spent watching Hillary graduate from university. Now she’s home and ready to start her new career job on Monday! Mom and Dad made the trip to be with us so that was fun. I hope you continue to be well, and are enjoying spring and sunshine where you are! Love, ~Arlyn xo
I went to Israel on a Holy Land tour with my dad and brother this past January. The tour was amazing. I took thousands of photos except for the where Jesus was judge and tried by Pontius Pilate and then beaten. On our tour to this room we were told no talking and no photos. Upon returning to the United States I decided to create a photobook of our trip. Not having these photos I am asking your permission for a copy of the photos to put in my photo travel book, if that is ok with you.
Hi George, absolutely! I’m glad you enjoyed the post and pictures. I’m glad to share with a fellow “pilgrim.” 🙂 Warmly, ~Arlyn Lawrence
THANK YOU!!! I am almost done with the travel book and will post a link to a PDF of it when complete.