No words to describe the experience!
Our final day in Israel proved to be very moving. There were lots of times of sharing, many tears, and true worship. This is why we come here!
We started out the day by visiting Lithostrotus which is the place where He was judged by Pilate. It contains a prisoner holding section showing evidence of some very cruel treatment for prisoners. Those who receive the sentence of death (Like Jesus) were the object of particularly grotesque physical and emotional abuse. We also got to stand, sit, or kneel on the actual Roman road that Jesus walked on from the place of beating to the Cross. Many of our group were broken beyond description.
Our next stop after a long quiet walk was at the Pools of Bethesda where Jesus healed the paralyzed man telling him to, “pick up your bed and walk”. We took some time to talk about healing and restoration. Each of us had the chance to pray and identify areas on our own lives that need to be brought into the truth of our restored identity in Christ. Many times we hold on to areas that are stuck in the fear or bitterness of our past – even though Jesus has healed and restored us completely. Having just seen the place where He chose to take our judgement willingly, we were compelled to bring it all into the light. We then visited St. Anne’s Church at the same location. This church has the most amazing natural acoustics. The most famous and talented singers from all over the world come to Israel to sing in this church. My good friend Mark Howard blessed us with his beautiful voice, and we all sang together in a time of worship. It was amazing!
Next, we went on a visit to the Israel Museum where we studied a large scaled model of the Ancient city of Jerusalem. This helped the group to get a grasp of the layout and all the places we have been to visit and study. This museum also houses an incredible display of the Dead Sea Scrolls.
Finally, we ended our journey with the last stop. We visited the Garden Tomb which is a very likely candidate for the actual (if not very similar) site of the crucifixion, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. Each person had the chance to walk inside an ancient rich man’s tomb to see exactly what it was like. The skull shaped Rock backdrop, the location outside the city wall, being alongside the main roadway, the signs of an ancient garden, and one of only a few wealthy man’s tomb all add to the evidence of this being the place. We ended our tour of the Garden Tomb area with communion and singing songs of praise and worship proclaiming a living and risen savior.
Everyone had a time to share their impressions and talk about what they had learned on the trip. It was so cool to hear everyone sharing about real and authentic experiences throughout the journey. There has been some real change in the hearts of these people. The most repeated statement all afternoon was, "there are no words to explain what I am feeling and what I have experienced".