This is our last day in Israel. We depart about midnight tonight from Tel Aviv. I can’t believe we’ve been gone 9 days already.
We got up early this morning and quickly departed from the hotel to see a few more significant sites before heading back. These sites were emotionally charged and everyone was moved.
We started by going to the Upper Room where Jesus had the Last Supper with His disciples. Just thinking about this intimate setting was enough to prompt us all to quietly seek Him with all our hearts. Unbelievably, the room was empty and it gave us time to talk about what God had been teaching us this week, spend some time praying, and then sing together. Of all the times I’ve been here, I’ve never seen an opportunity like this. The Upper Room was also the place where the disciples gathered while waiting on and finally receiving the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. It seemed so appropriate to sit and wait for a fresh anointing of His Spirit on us before we left. He definitely did that.
Before leaving the area we were able to walk to King David’s tomb. This, too, was an unexpected treat. The guys and gals had separate entry into the Tomb and after taking a few pictures we were off to the location where Peter denied Christ and the torture began for Jesus – Caiaphas’ House.
It was a short walk to the house of Caiaphas, the high priest. It was here the soldiers brought Jesus from the Garden of Gethsemene. Jesus was slandered, lied about, condemned for blasphemy (He was convicted for claiming to be God) and tortured here. Beneath Caiaphas’ house was a prison. Jesus would have been lowered into the prison by rope while waiting His time to see Pontius Pilate. Caiaphas’ guards would have whipped him first before lowering Him there. We were able to stay a while in the prison while I read Psalm 88. There was not a dry eye as we thought about our Lord and all He went through for us that day.
We left Caiaphas’ house and rode the bus to the Garden Tomb. After a brief introduction by one of the British guides we were shown Golgotha and the Tomb where Jesus was buried. He spent some time going over the evidence that identified this location as the spot where Jesus was crucified and buried. This was a sobering moment. Each person was able to enter the tomb and look within. Everyone came out and testified that it was empty. He has risen from the dead!
We then proceeded to a private spot in the garden where we could partake of the Lord’s Supper. While I was talking about the bread that symbolizes the broken body of Christ a dove flew into the room, circled the room a few times and then left. We were all convinced that God had chosen to remind us of His presence with this special visit by the dove. Following the communion time we sang a few songs and then spent the next 30 minutes just walking around the Garden area and revisiting the tomb.
Lunch was at Nissan’s shop. The shop owner provided pizza for everyone while people were given a final opportunity to do some souvenir shopping.
After a brief lunch, it was back in the bus to visit two more sites. We first went to the Valley of Elah where David slew Goliath. We were able to go to the brook where David picked up his 5 stones and picked a few of our own. J
Then on the way back to Jerusalem, we travelled to Emmaeus. You’ll recall that after the crucifixion, two people were walking back to Emmaeus when Jesus appeared to them. They had no idea that it was Jesus until at the end of the day when He broke the bread and offered thanks. We walked on the road they walked on and spent some time talking about Jesus there too.
It was also on the road to Emmaeus that Cindy and I got a very special phone call from the States. Our son called to tell us his wife’s water had broken and that our grand-daughter was on the way. So, when we return to the states tomorrow, we will be heading to Jacksonville to see this special gift from God.
It won’t be long before we’re headed home. We eat dinner in a few hours from now and then head to Tel Aviv to catch our plane. Looking forward to seeing you soon. Everybody is doing well and can’t wait to tell you all about their adventures. Don’t forget to keep on praying. One more thing. I thought you'd like to see the sign that's posted inside the empty tomb. It's a message worth passing on!