Tag Archives: Jerusalem

Sent

After visiting the Pool of Siloam, I knew I had to read John 9 again. Jesus was walking down the street and saw a blind man. The disciples wanted to know who’s fault it was that he was blind. They believed that it was a punishment from God for a specific sin committed by the man or his parent. Jesus replied, “Jesus answered, “Neither. It happened to him so that you could watch him experience God’s miracle” (TPT). Jesus then spit on the ground, mixed it in some dirt and put it on the guy’s eyes. He then said, “Now go and wash the clay from your eyes in the ritual pool of Siloam.” For the first time in His life he could see.

We live in a cause and effect world. We like to find the reason behind things so that we can make sense of it. If we can’t make sense of something, we don’t know how to deal with it. I’ve learned that the things of God don’t always make sense. Why did Jesus have to spit on the ground? Why send him to the pool that means “Sent”? I don’t know, but I do know that we, along with the disciples, get to witness this man experience a miracle that was impossible for a man to accomplish. Even though he faced excommunication from the community, he put his faith in Jesus as the Messiah.

Just as Jesus was sent into this world, you and I are too. Our mission is to help others believe in Jesus. We are to help restore the spiritual sight of everyone we come in contact with. We are to bring light into this world so that others may see and give praise to God. Look around you today. You have been sent to the people you will come in contact with. Will your life bring light or leave them in darkness? Just as the man was sent to the Pool of Siloam, we should send people to the foot of the Cross for their spiritual, emotional and physical healing. When you do, you will watch them experience God’s miracle.

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The Bus Station


What I love about having been to Israel is that when I read the Bible, I can picture each place in my mind. There are two sites celebrated as the place where Jesus was crucified. One of them is in a magnificent church and the other out in the open. I got to visit both places on this last trip, and both were incredible in their own way. Personally, I enjoyed the one outside better for a number of reasons, but I was a little offended at first by what I saw.

We were sitting on the property of the Garden Tomb, and they read Matthew 27:33. It says, “And they went out to a place called Golgotha (which means ‘Place of the Skull’)” (NLT). They pointed to a hill just about 50 yards away, and asked if we could see it. They showed us pictures of about 50 years ago and another from over 100 years ago. You can see how it looked like the Place of the Skull. But when I looked at the base of what could be Golgotha, there was a busy bus station. I couldn’t believe such a holy place was being disrespected.

That’s when it hit me that a bus station at the foot of the cross was the most appropriate way to honor it. One of Jesus’ final instructions before His ascension was from Mark 16:15. Jesus said, “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone.” The buses that I saw there were a representation of the Great Commission. Those busses carry people all over the place the same way we are to carry the Gospel. Our message is summed up by what happened at the Place of the Skull.

Where Jesus’ mission was fulfilled, ours began. Where He said, “It is finished,” He was handing the baton to us. That place of death became the birthplace of eternal life. We are the bus drivers of His message. We carry His spirit within us to be witnesses in all the world. Wherever we go, whomever we meet, we are to transport His message of hope and love. We can turn this world upside down at He disciples did, but we have to be willing to get on the bus and go.

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The Via Dolorosa


As we walked down the Via Dolorosa, we visited many of the stations of the cross which are adhered to by Catholics. If you’re unfamiliar with this road or “stations of the cross”, it’s the route that Jesus was led down from Pilate’s court to Golgotha. As we walked this path, I kept thinking how hard it was for someone who wasn’t injured, much less a man who had been beaten within an inch of His life and awake all night.

As we got to station five, our guide, told us how archeological evidence shows that Jesus didn’t carry the cross over one shoulder like we’ve always imagined. The cross beam was tied to their hands with their arms outstretched. She said that in every case of remains that have been found of those crucified, their nose was broken as well as other facial bones. Because their hands were tied, they couldn’t protect their face from the fall. When she said that, my wife immediately reminded me that Scriptures say, not a single bone in His body would be broken.

At Station Five, we remember Simon of Cyrene who carried the cross for Jesus. I’ve always been shown that Jesus fell and Simon was told to carry it for Him. As I read through every Gospel account of the crucifixion, no where is it mentioned that He fell. They all say what Luke 23:26 says, “The soldiers led Jesus away, and as they were going, they met a man from Cyrene named Simon who was coming into the city from the country. They seized him, put the cross on him, and made him carry it behind Jesus” (GNT). 

If Jesus had fallen, a bone would be broken. To fulfill Psalm 34:20, Simon was seized to carry the cross. As I thought about that, I thought of Jesus’ words in Luke 9:23. “And he said to them all, “If you want to come with me, you must forget yourself, take up your cross every day, and follow me.” If you and I are going to carry the cross of Christ, it’s not going to be an easy path. We may even fall and be broken. The true way of following Jesus is down the Via Dolorosa, the way of suffering. It long, difficult, and heavy at times, but we have the promise that His grace will be sufficient in those times. 

 

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A Place Of Life


As we walked into the Garden Tomb area outside the current walls of Jerusalem, a person behind me said, “This looks like a cemetery.” I laughed, turned around, and said, “That’s because it is!” The place is beautiful and peaceful. It’s easy to forget where you are as you stroll through the garden. It doesn’t feel like a touristy spot like so many places here do. It’s a relaxing a spiritual experience for sure.

After looking at Golgotha and going inside the tomb, we stepped aside and took communion. As I was holding the bread and the juice, I kept thinking about my comment that it was a cemetery. This was a garden with a tomb in it really. As I thought about that more, and we took communion, I began to reflect on the garden aspect of the place. A garden is a place where things grow. It’s a place where life thrives.

What better place for Jesus to be buried than in a garden, a place of life. Jesus came so that we may have life, and life more abundant. As I looked around this garden, I kept thinking about how it was a reflection of who He was. It was a place of peace for the Prince of Peace. It was full of life like the giver of life Himself. Jesus wasn’t buried in a place that was surrounded by other dead bodies. He was surrounded by life.

As I walked away from that place, there was a small plaque of John 14:6. In that verse, Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the LIFE.” I had always focused on the first two, but had rarely thought about what it meant for Him to be the life. He can grow the most beautiful things in our life where it looks like a cemetery. He can speak life into your most impossible situation because there is nothing too hard for Him. Don’t look at the problems in your life as an end. Give that to the Lord and He will turn them into a place of life and growth like the garden near His empty tomb.

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Cleaning Your Temple

One of the first things Jesus did after His triumphant entry into Jerusalem was to go to the temple. When He got there it was crowded with merchants who were buying and selling the items needed for sacrifices. There were even people there who would loan people money to buy what they needed for the sacrifices. The Message calls them loan sharks. Jesus became angry and kicked over the tables and threw them out of the temple.

As I read that, I’m reminded that I Corinthians 6:19 says that our bodies are the temple now. It got me to wondering, “What would Jesus kick over in my life? What things have I set up that make Him upset? What keeps me from being a ‘House of prayer?'” They’re tough questions to ask, but they need to be asked. None of us are perfect, nor will we ever be. That doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t try to do what’s right.

As Jesus was heading to the cross, He wanted to make sure that people understood what was important to Him. The first thing on His list was to clean out the temple. It was so full of other things that the poor and the crippled couldn’t get in. When we fill our lives with so many things that aren’t what God wants in them, we don’t have room for the things He wants to put in them. We miss out on blessings.

The options are clear. We can have Jesus come in, kick things over and make room, or we can make the adjustments ourselves. Personally, I prefer the latter. If we become people of prayer, we will hear God more. When we hear a God more, we will know more of what His will is for our lives. His will isn’t for us to live our lives for ourselves, but for others. The problem is that most of us don’t have room for others in our lives because we’re full of things for ourselves.

Hebrews 12:1 says that we are to cast aside and to strip off every weight that clings to us and entangles us. Verse two tells us how to do it. It says, “We do this by keeping our eye on Jesus.” He wasn’t concerned about Himself, He was concerned for others. His entire reason for coming here was to seek and to save the lost. He knew what kind of a price He would have to pay to build the bridge between us and God. He knew it meant sacrifice. Even when He got to Jerusalem for Holy Week, He told them what was about to happen.

Am I willing to make sacrifices in my life so others may know God? Is there room in my life for the emotionally, physically and spiritually poor and crippled? Am I concerned more with others eternity than my own temporary, physical comfort? What do I need to move out of my life in order to make room for what God wants to put in? These are tough questions that I’m asking myself. Hopefully, you’re asking yourself the same questions. It’s time we did a spring cleaning of our temples.

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