Today, we spent the whole day in the Old City. Anytime you spend time in the Old City, you have to keep reminding yourself of where you are and what the city looked like during Biblical times. That is not easy to do. Even if you just allow yourself to be immersed in all of the cultures you are surrounded by, it is a day that you will not forget. We started the day earlier than usual because we wanted to get on the Temple Mount as soon as we could. Muslims are in control of the Temple Mount and visitors are only allowed on the platform during certain times of the week. Once we made it on the Temple Mount, you are reminded of so many Bible stories. This is where Solomon first built a temple to God. Centuries later, Herod the Great expanded the Temple Mount and rebuilt the temple. This is where Jesus turned over the tables of the money changers. This is where Paul and John healed a blind man as he sat by the gate called Beautiful. This is where Peter preached the sermon in Acts 2. What a great way to start your day.
We exited the Temple Mount and walked the roads of the Old City along the Via Dolorosa. The Via Dolorosa is the path that Jesus walked as he was led from Pilate to Golgotha. It is a very interesting walk, but of course if rooted more in tradition rather than actual history.
The Via Dolorosa ends at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. This ancient church was originally built in the 3rd Century and traditionally stands above the locations of Golgotha and the tomb. There are many interesting things about the building itself, but also it is very sad. You see many things that would not be appropriate among people that call themselves followers of Jesus. With that being said, I believe that the church actually sits on the original location. In that case, it is interesting.
After lunch, we walked through the Christian and Jewish Quarters and ended up at the infamous Western Wall. As is always the case, there were hundreds of Jewish people praying at the wall. This is the closest that they can get to the original location of the temple. We saw many men and women praying and also a couple of school classes conducting their sessions. Even though I may not agree with everything that they believe spiritually, there is a lot that I can learn from their dedication to what they do believe.
Our final stop of the day was at the southern end of the Temple Mount where we sat on the original First Century steps that led to the temple. It is very humbling to think that I was walking up the same steps that Jesus walked up on many occasions.
As you can tell, it was another great day. Tomorrow, we visit the Israel Museum, which is now allowing photographs!