Thursday, we had our first session from 12 noon – 2pm. We hung out quite a bit in Song of Songs – Beloved.
After our watch, Gingi met us again and took us to an overlook at Caiaphas’s house and then down a lot of steps to a restored courtyard, part of a beautiful Roman Catholic church, where Peter denied Jesus. The inside of the church was beautiful, with mosaics filling every wall and the ceiling. There was a beautiful stained glass cross on the dome of the ceiling. This church was built on the remains, actually straddled the remains of a 1st century church and then remains of a prison chiseled out of stone under that. Part of that was where they said Jesus was imprisoned overnight, in a pit or cistern. There was the hole in the ceiling where they might have let Jesus down through. We were able to go down into the pit and stand underneath the hole.
We went down, right below the church, into an area where old stone buildings had been excavated. There was a first century staircase that led up from the mountainside below, into the courtyard. These are the steps Jesus would have been led up, as they took him to Caiaphas’s house (the high priest) where he was falsely tried by the Sanhedrin in the early morning hours. He was then kept in the pit until morning when he was taken to Pilate. Way across the Kidron Valley, we could see the Mount of Olives and Gethsemane where Jesus was arrested. Turning a bit to the left, you could see Temple Mount in fairly close proximity. Walking back up the Roman steps was an incredible experience. This was one of the two places that I started to weep. The love that Jesus has for me just washed over me. To think that Jesus gave his life for me! I wanted to dwell on those steps for awhile, touching them with my hands and sitting down to take it all in.
Next, we walked up to the Zion Gate and into the Old City. There were cars trying to come in and out of the narrow gate and it had a turn in the center of it. All the cars had the corners of their bumpers scraped. We walked through some shops and then down to the Kotel…The Wall. We had the incredible privilege to pray at the West Wall (Wailing Wall) of Temple Mount. The guys went to one area to pray and the girls to another. The guys had to put on a cardboard yamika. As I came up to the wall, I could see all the bits of paper that were stuffed into every crack in the wall. These contained prayers. This was the only ofther pace during the trip that I started to weep. The compassion that Jesus has for His people really hit me while I was standing at the wall. I started praying for the Jewish people like I never had before. It was a very pleasant and very special moment.
At the Wall was the first place we saw a lot of weapons and guards. They were having an army ceremony there for new recruits. There were guards on some of the ledges and wall surrounding the plaza and at least one plainclothes agent we saw on the plaza level. We had to go through a security checkpoint where they checked our bags and had us go through a metal detector. On the way down the steps to the plaza there was a large, gold, menorah. I didn’t know it but this is one of the menorahs meant for the rebuilding of the Temple. It was in a glass case by the steps leading down to the Wall, stood about 7 foot high and was made of gold. It had been a bit further away from the wall in a place with a porch roof over it but the Jews moved it to be closer to the Temple Mount.
Next we went through the Cardo area to do a little shopping. The narrow passageways were sometimes completely an enclosed tunnel. Other times they were open a bit on the top, to the sky. At the end of the Cardo was the Church of the Holy Sepulcher but we didn’t go in. It was definitely getting to be time to leave the Old City. The shops of the Cardo had their entrances all closed up and covered. It looked more like a tunnel now.
We had a second worship watch to do that evening from 8pm to 10pm. There was a lot of dancing in the worship time by the people who came. There were many cultures represented there and the many styles of dance were just woven together and accepted. I don’t think there was a single session that I didn’t turn around and look out over Mount Zion and the Old City in amazement and disbelief that I was actually looking at Jerusalem.
We did a bit of pre-packing when we got back to the house as we wouldn’t have much time to pack on Friday night.
The Cardo was section of the old city filled with underground tunnels and shops. Just like the old city, the shops were divided into sections. We went to the Christian section. We had lots of fun bargaining.
The Cardo. At sunset (Around 5 PM) all the shops close. I felt like I was walking through a tunnel of garages.