Our last stops on Tuesday, the 13th, were the Southern Temple Steps and the Wailing Wall. As we walked up to the steps, we were reminded that these were the actual steps that Jesus and His disciples would have walked up, approaching the southern entrance to the Temple. The gates on this side are closed and not accessible to Christians and Jews alike, but under control of the Muslims. Perhaps the Double Gate and the Triple Gate (as known today) were the Beautiful Gate in Jesus’ time.
Southern Steps of the Temple
Just below these steps were a number of mikveh pools, where the Jewish people would wash themselves before entering the Temple. It is conjectured that this is where Peter preached on the day of Pentecost, and thus was able to baptize thousands of converts in one day.
Just around the corner is the Western Wall, where millions today gather to pray and weep for their Messiah. The Western Wall is important to modern Jews for two reasons: This is the closest to the Holy of Holies that they can come, and God and promised to Solomon that His heart and eyes would be on this site forever:
And the LORD said unto him, I have heard thy prayer and thy supplication, that thou hast made before me: I have hallowed this house, which thou hast built, to put my name there for ever; and mine eyes and mine heart shall be there perpetually ( I Kings 9:3).
Western Wall, Men’s Side
Western Wall, Women’s Side
Recently, I decided to make a sun hat to take on my trip to Israel. I pulled out the pattern, “sort of” measured it, to make sure the crown of the hat would fit, and quickly put the entire hat together, brim and all, before carefully measuring. As you may see from the picture, the crown was not shaped properly. Of course, the hat didn’t fit the way I wanted it to, so I had to take it apart the restitch the crown.
In the Christian life, we often get ahead of what God would have us to do. We think we are fully prepared for something, and merrily go ahead with our plans, thinking everything will be okay. I thought of this following verse, knowing that God would want me to be more careful, even in my sewing.
For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? Lest haply after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish (Luke 14:28-30, KJV).
Of course, in the passage in Luke, the Lord Jesus was talking about discipleship, and giving up everything in order to serve Him. He wants us to be willing to surrender to His leading completely. Then, as we follow His directions for our lives, He perfects us to be more like Him.
Some of you may know that I will be going to Israel on a tour in a few weeks. My sister, who is the organizer of tour, recently wrote this to the group that is going:
I’m sure you will be celebrating Christ’s Resurrection in the next few weeks. We will be too, beginning this weekend, with our granddaughters (4 and 6 yrs old). In our Bruce family tradition, we’ll act out the Easter story again and again, changing who gets to be Jesus, or the angel, or whatever. Sometimes a hole in the bushes doubles as the tomb; last year the tomb was under the piano bench. They have a great imagination, but I’m thrilled that they are learning the Scripture truths so well.
The “Hill of the Skull” just outside the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem has been overtaken by a modern bus stop. While you get the sense that one of our holiest places has been desecrated by smelly buses, in a sense that is appropriate, because Jesus was crucified right on the main thoroughfare, where all travelers could see the spectacle of the Son of God carrying our sin on a rugged cross.
There is a walk-in tomb near Calvary that might have been the tomb of Jesus. If so, it was once sealed tightly shut, but the seal on the door wasn’t strong enough to keep the Son of God inside. After three days he rose again, alive and victorious over death!
That tomb is certainly empty today, and we can visit it. In fact, we plan to celebrate Jesus’ death and resurrection with communion together there.
Blessings, Les & Kathy Bruce