Greetings from Jerusalem! I had a walking tour with the pastor Alan through the old city. It is not far from the hotel I picked although the streets are very steep!
Jerusalem is a hilly city (worse than PE) so Jesus must have been quite fit to walk around here all the time! I visited the Mount of Olives where Jesus prayed and where He had The Last Supper with His disciples. From there we descended on a very steep downward path to the Dominus Flevit where Jesus could look over Jerusalem and lament over the city. ‘ Oh, Jerusalem, Jerusalem! How many times I tried to gather you under my wings like a hen gathers her chickens, but you would not.’ They still do not want to come under Jesus’ wings. Nothing has changed.
Then we went further down to the Garden of Gethsemane (Matt26: 39: ‘My Father if it be your will that I drink this cup…not My will be done, but Yours.’
The Catholics built a Cathedral over the stone where Jesus prayed and sweated blood.
It is 30 degrees Celsius here! I got sunburned today!
We also walked to the Garden Tomb where we had a Spanish guide. The Anglicans run it – so much different than where the Catholics hold control over historic places. The Catholics tend to worship each place and make an idol of it, whereas the Anglicans give you the real Gospel story.
I saw the winepress next to the tomb. Jesus trod the winepress alone…
The Garden Tomb is just outside Herod’s gate in the city wall. Jesus was led outside the city to be crucified. It is just a short but steep walk from Herod’s gate to Golgotha. You can see the skull clearly, but the nose has been worn down over the years. The eyes and mouth still resemble a skull, unmistakably. (John 19:16-19)
Joseph of Arimathea’s tomb is almost under Golgotha. It is on the main Damascus Gate road that leads to Damascus (now in Syria). People walked along the main road mocking Jesus on the cross. Archeologists uncovered the tomb in 1866. (John 19:40-42) Joseph went to Herod to ask permission to bury the body of Jesus in his private sepulcher with Nicodemus accompanying him. Nicodemus was a secret disciple of Jesus that was only prepared to show his true colors after Jesus died.
I noticed a stone groove in front of the tomb where the stone could be rolled either way. If the stone rested on sand it would be impossible to move because it weighed 3 000 Kilo’s! The farmers also use the groove as a feeding trough for the animals.
Another interesting fact I picked up was that the Angel was inside the tomb where he appeared to Mary Magdalene and not outside. The stone was already rolled away when she and the other Mary got to the tomb. The first part of the tomb is the section where people come to mourn the body of the deceased and to anoint the body. That is what Mary came to do. But the body was gone. The second part of the tomb (the first part is like a foyer) there are more tombs deeper in the rock where the body was finally buried 3 days afterwards. Mary thought they already laid Jesus body in the deeper tomb so she turned to look into the deeper tomb and that is where the Angel sat. She asked him where Jesus’ body was. She had no idea that He had risen! And the Angel told her, ‘He is not here. He is risen!’ Imagine her surprise!
This ‘walking tour’ (like I had on my first mission to the Indians in Kwazulu Natal where a youngster took me on a ‘walking tour’ that lasted about 6 hours! He kept on saying, ‘it is just around the corner!’) lasted about 4 hours. It is amazing that I randomly picked a hotel and it is within walking distance of the Tomb, Mt. of Olives and Gethsemane! It could not have been a better choice. The Holy Spirit leads and guides us even in the small details of our lives!
Coming to Jerusalem over a weekend is probably the worst and the best thing one can do. First of all they prepare for Shabbat on Friday and hold Shabbat on Saturday. On Friday everything stops early in the morning and all the attention is focused on preparing the Shabbat meal. The restaurant in the hotel even closes! I had no meal on Friday night! On Saturday the hotel restaurant stays closed till 6.30 PM (sunset).
But Pastor Alan and I went to the Arab section where we had a Shawarma and some pickled veggies. I will wait till 6.30 for my next meal!
The meeting tonight is very late, at 10 PM! Tomorrow I will hold another meeting. We have to go by train to get there and I will have lunch with the people from the church who are quite excited to hear me preach, according to Pastor Alan. We have much in common in faith, like we do with Pastor Jovie who arranged the meeting for me. Pastor Jovie did not start the church. Another Pastor did. Jovie ministers everywhere. He has no church. He holds Bible Studies for 3 weeks like the Maasbachs do and invites people from different churches to attend. Because he does not represent any denomination he is not a threat to any pastor or movement and gains access easily into different denominations.
I find the Arabs much friendlier than the Jews! In the hotel we are not allowed to use two of the lifts because it is reserved for Shabbat! (A Shabbat elevator stops on every floor!) We will defile it if we use the lift. They keep very separate and do not easily engage in any form of greeting or conversation! We are Gentiles and we feel treated like Gentiles! The pride of the Jews is offensive to say the least. That’s how they treated Jesus of Nazareth as well.
On Saturday you see hundreds Jewish Hassidic Men in their black garments.
They wear a huge black felt hat, with heavy black beards and braids hanging down past their ears and most of them wear black spectacles. Part of their religious uniform is their prayer shawl draped around their necks. The Torah is wrapped in another shawl and they clutch it under their arms as they walk to temples and places of prayer. It feels like you are watching a never-ending funeral procession all the time.
When I arrived in Tel Aviv there were no buses or trains and all the travel agencies were closed at the airport because it was Friday. So I had to travel by a shuttle run by an Arab man. He was quite a character! He argues with customers, with other drivers in the traffic and with people that get in the way!
What is good about being in Jerusalem over the weekend is the streets are deserted, the traffic not congested and the tourist spots not crammed full of people. So I picked the worst and the best time to be here!
When I was young I made a vow that I would never go to Israel as a tourist to go on a religious pilgrimage as the Muslims go to Mecca. I said I would only go if I could preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Finally the time for that has come. God’s timing is perfect!
Apostle Andre Pelser