Today we enjoyed Sunday services at the Garden of Gethsemane. It was a joyful time of singing, prayer, and exposition. For sure it was impactful on each of us.
Around Jerusalem today, we saw the pools of Bethessda (St. Anne’s Church), walked across the Kidron Valley to the Mount of Olives where we visited the Garden of Gethsemane, went to King David’s grave in Jerusalem, and toured the Jerusalem Archaeological Park, the home of the Temple Mound. We thoroughly enjoyed visiting the southwest corner of the Old City Wall, the southern stairs where Jesus would have walked to go to the Temple, and experiencing the Western Wailing Wall.
From Jerusalem we traveled to Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus. We switched guides since Bethlehem is under the control of the Palestinian Authority. There, in addition to lunch and shopping, we visited the Shepherd’s Field and the Church of the Nativity.
For Your Consideration
There were two activities today that seemed to be most challenging.
First, spending a time of service and prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane. After our service, we took time to just spread out all over the Garden for personal worship and prayer. The overwhelming thought I had there was this: It was here that Jesus took the bitter cut of the sins of the whole world on Himself just before His betrayal and ultimately His death (Matthew 26:36-46; Mark 14:32-42; Luke 22:39-46; John 18:1). Every sin that I have committed. Every sin that you have committed. Sins that we knew and thought about, and so many more sins that went unnoticed by us – all of them Jesus took upon Himself in the crucifixion. It was in great agony that Jesus prayed, as He did He sweat as it were great drops of blood. He called out to His Father as He considered the cross but ultimately wanted God’s will to be done.
As I sat in this Garden, I couldn’t help but keep thinking about how personal this moment was. Jesus accepted this bitter cup which included my sins. Every single one of them. Every one. With His infinite knowledge, He knew my sins in that moment. Yet, He willingly accepted the punishment for those sins so that I could receive His righteousness in 1976. So, so personal. The thought of this was so precious and increased my gratitude.
I also couldn’t help but consider the disciples. Jesus wanted them to watch and pray. He asked them to do so with Him. He had just warned them to watch out for temptations; however, Peter and the others had blown Him off. This was their chance to prepare for temptation. Jesus had just specifically warned them! So I ask myself, “How often should I prepare for my own temptations and, yet, I fail to do so?”
The Garden brought a great challenge today – both an opportunity for me to be grateful for the forgiveness of all my sin and to consider my own preparation for daily temptation.
Second, I am grateful the Bible tells us the story of Jesus and in God’s kindness someone shared that story from the pages of Scripture. I watched so many well-meaning and sincere Jews of all ages stand, kneel, and sit along the Western Wall praying for a Messiah that has already come. They cry out over a destructed Temple that now houses a Muslim mosque. They cry and rock as they say their prayers and leave their prayer requests.
Friends, the message of the Messiah didn’t end in the Jewish testament, the Old Testament. It continued in the Gospels and we read of its significance in the rest of the New Testament. We learn of Jesus Christ – His love, His plan of redemption, His self-sacrificial life, His willingness to do the Father’s will. He offered the kingdom to the Jews and they rejected Him.
It is this sweet message the world needs to hear. We are the ones who must share the glorious news of the birth, life, death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ to the world. I prayed today on the Wailing Wall. I prayed for the salvation of all those Jews around me who need to know the Messiah, Jesus Christ the Righteous One.
Think about it: Jesus personally took all your sins…and who have you told about it?
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