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Garden of Gethsemane

They Knew He Was Coming

IMG_2821A little over a year ago, I posted a picture of the East Gate from the Old City. The picture was taken from the Roman Catholic Church of All Nations, which sits on the traditional location of the Garden of Gethsemane. The point was made that from the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus could have easily seen the "multitude of people" coming to arrest him. Earlier this week, I was talking with Trent and Rebekah Dutton, who have both spent considerable time in Israel. We were talking about the physical geography of the city of Jerusalem. Rebekah wondered if the priests could see the activity in the Garden of Gethsemane from their home.

It is a good question. During the First Century, the wealthy and influential people who lived in Jerusalem lived on the Western Hill. It is called the "Western Hill" because it sat west of the original City of David across the Tyropoeon Valley. So, if the priests' house was high enough on the hill, it might have a view of the Garden of Gethsemane.

As we were discussing this, I remembered a picture that I took in 2010 from the Church of Saint Peter in Gallicantu. (That picture is at the top of this blog post. If you are reading this post in an email, then you might need to click on the title to view the post from a web page.) That church sits on the traditional location of the house of Annas and Caiaphas, who were both priests in the First Century. The picture is looking northeast in the direction of the Garden of Gethsemane. You can easily see the golden domes of the Russian Orthodox Church of Mary Magdalene. That church sits just up the hill from the traditional location of the Garden of Gethsemane.

Matthew, in his gospel, tells us:

And while He was still speaking, behold, Judas, one of the twelve, with a great multitude with swords and clubs, came from the chief priests and elders of the people. - Matthew 26:47

Imagine this same view in the middle of the night. It would be completely dark. Undoubtedly, this "great multitude" would have numerous torches to light their way as they left the city, crossed the Kidron Valley and entered the garden. It is possible that the priests, sitting in their house, could have seen the activity in the garden knowing what was going on.

In addition, after they arrested Jesus, the priests could have probably seen the torches of the multitude coming in their direction as they made their way from the garden to the upper city. They knew He was coming.

The Mount of Olives to Bethlehem

The Mount of Olives to Bethlehem

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It is amazing what a beautiful day that we had today. The sky was a crystal blue with only a few puffy blue clouds. We started the day at the top of the Mount of Olives. This is easily one of the most memorable views on the entire trip. You can easily visualize thousands of years of Biblical history from this one spot. We stood up there for nearly half an hour pointing out different sites and discussing the last full day of the life of Jesus.

We hiked down the Mount of Olives all the way to the Garden of Gethsemane. The Church of All Nations currently sits on this site. We toured the inside and outside of the church building and considered the great group of people that came down from the city to arrest Jesus on that fateful night.

Our next stop was at the Garden Tomb. This site is run by a group from the United Kingdom. For many years, they laid claim that this was the actual site of Calvary. But, in recent years, have backed off that claim just a bit. Regardless, it is a nice visual of an ancient rolling stone tomb.

wilderness_of_judeaAfter lunch, we drove down to the Herodium. This small mountain was constructed by King Herod to be his final resting place after he died. The view to the south from the Herodium was breathtaking. You can see the beautiful Wilderness of Judea as it stretches toward the Dead Sea.

After a brief stop by the Shepherd's Fields, we arrived at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. This church sits on top of the traditional location of the birth of Jesus. There is some considerable reconstruction work going on inside the building. In fact, there was so much reconstruction, you could barely identify the actual building amidst all of the scaffolding. Luckily, the crowds were very small and we were able to make our way down to the grotto fairly easily.

We ended our day by visiting Kando's Store in Bethlehem. The owner of the store is Shibly Kando, the grandson of an antiquities dealer who was contacted by a cobbler who first came into contact with the shepherd who found the Dead Sea scrolls. He is a very kind-hearted man and I enjoy going to his store very much. Currently, there are four original Dead Sea Scroll containers on display. One is in Rome, two are in the Israel Museum and the last one (and largest) is at Kando's Store. It is a beautiful piece.

Tomorrow, we head down to the Dead Sea. It will be warm, but enjoyable.

(For additional information about the tour from another perspective, I invite you to read Journeys With Jane, my mother's blog.)

He Knew They Were Coming

The Golden Gate from the steps of the Church of All Nations in Jerusalem.On the night that He was arrested, Jesus went to the Garden of Gethsemane to spend some time with God in prayer. The traditional site of the Garden of Gethsemane sits at the base of the Mount of Olives just across the Kidron Valley from the city of Jerusalem. Today, a Roman Catholic church, commonly called The Church of All Nations, is built on this spot. The Church of All Nations in JerusalemIf you stand on the steps of the Church of All Nations and look toward your west, you see the view that is depicted in the picture at the top of this post. I took this picture last September while visiting the site. It is a picture of what is commonly called the Golden Gate. This gate was built in the 6th Century AD on the ruins of another gate that dated to the Second Temple Period. During the time of Christ, this gate served as an entrance to the Temple Mount area for people that came from the east (Bethany, Bethpage, etc). It is not unreasonable to assume that Jesus, his disciples and many other people of that day went through that gate. As you can tell from the picture, the gate is not far at all from the Garden of Gethsemane.

Let's look at the picture a little differently. Imagine it is the middle of the night. Except for lanterns or torches that are illuminating the rock walls, it is completely dark. And, it is quiet. So quiet that Peter, James and John could fall asleep....twice. Now, let's read the passage from Matthew 26:

Then He came to His disciples and said to them, β€œAre you still sleeping and resting? Behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going. See, My betrayer is at hand.” And while He was still speaking, behold, Judas, one of the twelve, with a great multitude with swords and clubs, came from the chief priests and elders of the people. - Matthew 26:45-47

From the passage, we know that the multitude came from the chief priests and elders, and it is probably safe to assume that they were in the city. If so, then Judas and the rest of the multitude could have come out of this gate.

Jesus could look up the hill and could see the lit torches that they would have been carrying. He could probably hear their voices and the clanging of the soldiers armor.

He knew that they were coming. He could have run away. But He didn't.