Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | July 12, 2018

Exploring Jerusalem

Jerusalem is one of the most important places in the world. Jews, Christians, and Muslims all regard this ancient city as a sacred site. Our students spent two days exploring Jerusalem — from the narrow and crowded streets of the Via Dolorosa to the tunnels that lead to ongoing archeological work beneath the city.

The Temple Mount | The Temple Mount is the holiest site in Judaism. The Old Testament book of 2 Chronicles identifies this location as Mount Moriah (3:1), the place where Abraham had been willing to offer Isaac (Gen. 22:1-14).

Solomon built the first Temple at this site (2 Chron. 2–6). Centuries later Herod enlarged the Temple platform and made the Jerusalem Temple bigger and better than ever. Herod’s project was finally completed in 60 AD but was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD.

The Dome of the Rock was erected near the site of the Jewish Temple in the 7th century AD. This mosque, with its golden dome, is perhaps the most prominent feature of Jerusalem’s low skyline.

It was at this place that God said to Abraham, “Take now your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac…” (Genesis 22:2). This is the first time in Scripture that the word “love” is used — not in the context of a man’s love for a woman but a father’s love for a son.

Garden of Gethsemane | The olive trees at the Garden of Gethsemane are old — so old, in fact, that they may actually date back to the time of Jesus. The Garden of Gethsemane is the place where Judas betrayed Jesus with a kiss and where Peter cut off the right ear of Malchus, the slave of the high priest.

The name Gethsemane is derived from the Hebrew words “gat” (a place for pressing) and “shemanim” (oils). The Greek word “thilipsis” means great pressure and describes the point when olives were crushed by a heavy millstone, squeezing the olive oil out of the pulp.

Jesus was under such intense pressure at Gethsemane that “His sweat became like drops of blood” (Luke 22:44). Soon after the hour of His betrayal, Jesus would feel the full weight of the sins of the world as He hung on a cross.

The Place of Crucifixion and Burial | We visited both the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Garden Tomb Site with its skull–looking hill nearby. It was interesting to learn about both sites. And regardless of whether you regard one as the more likely place where Jesus was crucified and buried, the fact remains “that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures” (1 Cor. 15:3-4).

One of the best parts of our time in Jerusalem was observing the Lord’s Supper at the Garden Tomb. We sang, read the account of the Last Supper, and took time to reflect on our personal lives and walk with Christ.

Hezekiah’sTunnel | Seven-hundred years before Jesus, King Hezekiah prepared Judah to face the threat of Sennacherib’s Assyrian army. Hezekiah took practical measures to safeguard Jerusalem’s water supply (2 Kings 20:20 and 2 Chron. 32:30) because without water they would not survive the seige.

Hezekiah’s workmen created a tunnel by chiseling through solid rock, at points more than 140 feet underground. One team started at the Spring of Gihon in the Kidron Valley outside Jerusalem. The other team started on the Western ridge of Jerusalem. The two groups met in the middle — an amazing feat of engineering. 

Armed with flashlights, our students waded through the entire distance of Hezekiah’s tunnel. Every chisel mark etched in to the walls of the tunnel is a reminder of a people who did something hard in order to survive what seemed like an insurmountable threat.

Via Dolorosa | Via Dolorosa is a Latin term that means the “way of suffering.” This street in the old city of Jerusalem is believed to be the path Jesus walked in the way to the crucifixion. Today, this path is lined with vendors and choked with people — both locals and pilgrims. It was a humbling experience to follow this path to the place where Jesus was crucified. Every painful step He took on the Via Dolorosa led him closer to facing an excruciating death for the sins of the world.


  1. Beautiful. I did not know that was the first time LOVE was used in the Bible. Thank you for the blog.

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