Both anticipation and trepidation filled my heart as we climbed aboard our motor coach that morning. What would it be like to sit in the Garden of Gethsemane or to walk along the Via Dolorosa? Would it be so crowded with tourists, so cluttered with tacky souvenirs that any sense of the sacred would be lost? Oh no, beloved. Two thousand years later, the Lord’s sweet fragrance still tinges the air.
Though many travelers are there to check off their must-see list and snap photos, other pilgrims come with Bibles in hand and earnest expressions on their faces, longing to encounter the Christ anew.
Crossing paths with visitors from all over the world means enjoying a heady mix of languages, cultures, and ethnic groups, which the aptly named Church of All Nations on the Mount of Olives celebrates.
A short journey brought us inside the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem, and we begin the slow walk up the Via Dolorosa—the Way of Suffering.
More than once we brushed away tears, especially as we reached each Station of the Cross and thought about the Lord’s agonizing journey. In one small chapel someone in our group began softly singing, “We Are Standing on Holy Ground.” Indeed.
The afternoon ended on the steps of the Church of St. John the Baptist in Ein Karem, where I taught on Mary visiting Elizabeth from Luke 1:39-45, then we walked on to Mary’s Spring as the sun was setting on another eye-opening day in Jerusalem.
We walked where Jesus walked and suffered and bled and died for us!
Anna and I paused in the Via Dolorosa to catch our breaths, turned to each other, and began to weep. Both of us were imagining the Lord bearing his cross up that long, steep climb. Overwhelming to contemplate, then and now.
Just reading your encounter I feel the longing in the depths of my soul to walk where my Savior carried the burden of the entire world on his shoulders. Tears, on the edge of spilling over, make it hard to read. This, of all the places in the world, is one that I must visit before Jesus calls me home!