Easter week in the Holy Land

Last night Ed and I arrived home from a two week trip to Europe and Asia. Our main purpose was to attend “FarBeyond” the global conference for our organization in southern Turkey, but since flights are so expensive and it lined up with our Spring Break we were able to take some extra time to explore some other cities and countries.

I think the most powerful place we visited was Israel. We connected with a friend of a friend who took us all over the country to see the sites of the Bible. It was amazing to walk where Jesus walked and see what David saw. Since today is Easter- the amazing celebration of the death and more importantly the resurrection of our Lord- I am going to try to tell the story using pictures of what we saw in modern-day Israel.

<Disclaimer- This is from my memory and what pictures I took. Historians probably have a more accurate understanding of these sites and where they align with the Biblical account>

Palm Sunday-

Matthew 21:7-11  They brought the donkey and the colt and put on them their cloaks, and he sat on them. 8 Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” 10 And when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, “Who is this?” 11 And the crowds said, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.”

The Damascus gate. Most likely not the gate Jesus entered, but it is beautiful!100_3436

Parable of the tenants-

Matthew 21:33-41“Hear another parable. There was a master of a house who planted a vineyard and put a fence around it and dug a winepress in it and built a tower and leased it to tenants, and went into another country. 34 When the season for fruit drew near, he sent his servants[c] to the tenants to get his fruit.35 And the tenants took his servants and beat one, killed another, and stoned another. 36 Again he sent other servants, more than the first. And they did the same to them. 37 Finally he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ 38 But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and have his inheritance.’ 39 And they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. 40 When therefore the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?” 41 They said to him, “He will put those wretches to a miserable death and let out the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the fruits in their seasons.”

A Bible-times wine press in the Garden tomb area



Jesus laments over Jerusalem

Matthew 23:37-39 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! 38 See, your house is left to you desolate. 39 For I tell you, you will not see me again, until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’”

The modern-day “old city” of Jerusalem; over which Jesus wept100_3395

Jesus foretells the destruction of the temple

Matthew 24:1-2-Jesus left the temple and was going away, when his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the temple. 2 But he answered them, “You see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you,there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.”

The western well, which in Jewish tradition is thought to be the only remaining wall of the great temple. This is also commonly referred to as the wailing wall.


Passover with the disciples

Matthew 26:17-19 Now on the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Where will you have us prepare for you to eat the Passover?” 18 He said, “Go into the city to a certain man and say to him,‘The Teacher says, My time is at hand. I will keep the Passover at your house with my disciples.’”19 And the disciples did as Jesus had directed them, and they prepared the Passover.

We were able to celebrate Passover with some people in Jerusalem. This is Unleavened bread, bitter herbs and other garnishes from the Passover celebration.



The upper room where it is believed Jesus celebrated Passover with his disciples.DSC_0929

Jesus prays in Gethsemane

Matthew 26:36 Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I go over there and pray.”

I can’t remember if this is the Garden of Gethsemane or the garden on the Mount of Olives- but it is a picture of what it might have looked like.


Jesus goes before Caiaphas

Matthew 26:57-58 Then those who had seized Jesus led him to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders had gathered. 58 And Peter was following him at a distance, as far as the courtyard of the high priest, and going inside he sat with the guards to see the end.

There is a church built where it is believe that Caiaphas lived


Steps dating back to the first century where it is believed Jesus walked when he was brought to Caiaphas.100_3408

Peter denies Jesus

Matthew 26:69-75 Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. And a servant girl came up to him and said, “You also were with Jesus the Galilean.” 70 But he denied it before them all, saying, “I do not know what you mean.” 71 And when he went out to the entrance, another servant girl saw him, and she said to the bystanders, “This man was with Jesus of Nazareth.” 72 And again he denied it with an oath: “I do not know the man.” 73 After a little while the bystanders came up and said to Peter, “Certainly you too are one of them, for your accent betrays you.” 74 Then he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, “I do not know the man.” And immediately the rooster crowed. 75 And Peter remembered the saying of Jesus, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly.

In the court yard outside the church representing the high priests house there is a statue with a rooster on top remembering where Peter denied Jesus.


Jesus goes before Pilate

Matthew 27:1-2; 11-14 When morning came, all the chief priests and the elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death. 2 And they bound him and led him away and delivered him over to Pilate the governor…11 Now Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus said, “You have said so.” 12 But when he was accused by the chief priests and elders, he gave no answer. 13 Then Pilate said to him, “Do you not hear how many things they testify against you?”14 But he gave him no answer, not even to a single charge, so that the governor was greatly amazed.

This is the first station of the cross in the Catholic tradition and it is where Pilate’s house was believed to be located.


Jesus is beaten and mocked

Matthew 27:28-31 Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the governor’s headquarters,[d] and they gathered the whole battalion[e] before him. 28 And they stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, 29 and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on his head and put a reed in his right hand. And kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” 30 And they spit on him and took the reed and struck him on the head. 31 And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him and led him away to crucify him.

A church is built on the place where they believe Jesus was beaten and mocked.


Jesus is crucified

Matthew 27:33-40 And when they came to a place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull), 34 they offered him wine to drink, mixed with gall, but when he tasted it, he would not drink it. 35 And when they had crucified him, they divided his garments among them by casting lots. 36 Then they sat down and kept watch over him there. 37 And over his head they put the charge against him, which read, “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.” 38 Then two robbers were crucified with him, one on the right and one on the left. 39 And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads 40 and saying, “You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.”

Protestant tradition believes that this rock face might have been Golgotha and at the base was where Jesus’ cross was raised. (The Catholics and Orthodox traditions have a different location in the Church of the Holy Spulchre).


Jesus’ body is buried

Matthew 27:57-60 When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who also was a disciple of Jesus. 58 He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. 59 And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen shroud 60 and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had cut in the rock. And he rolled a great stone to the entrance of the tomb and went away.

In the Church of the Holy Spulchre where Jesus was buried (top) and where his body was prepared for burial (second).DSC_0910DSC_0897


The Garden tomb- where the Protestant tradition believe Jesus was buried. 100_3428100_3433

Jesus rose from the dead

Matthew 28:1-10 Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. 2 And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. 4 And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. 5 But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. 6 He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he[a] lay.7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you.” 8 So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9 And behold, Jesus met them and said,“Greetings!” And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.”





Over all it was a beautiful time to remember the life that Jesus lived on earth and see where it walked and taught. The most important reminder, however, was the Jesus came so that he could die for us. He was willing to suffer, to endure tremendous pain, and to die as a criminal so that we can live with relationship with our heavenly Father. Love is amazing!

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