I hope you enjoyed reading about my time in Istanbul, Turkey the last two weeks. Today I am going to start a two-week series of blogs and pictures from Israel where I went on a pilgrimage of Jesus’s life and ministry. In order to make sure you do not miss anything LIKE @svGuidingLight and please share these blogs with anyone you feel would be entertained by them. I am writing about what I did in order to help inspire and help people travel the world. Maybe even give you a guide for your own pilgrimage.
The day I landed I spent the night in Old Jaffa south of Tel Aviv. This ancient port was a wonderful place to start my trek because not only was this the port Jonah fled God and found his buddy the giant fish, but is also the town Peter had his vision saying he should minister to Gentiles in addition to Jews. As a side note the rocks just outside the small harbor are where, according to Greek mythology, Andromeda was chained to sacrifice to the sea monster but was saved by Perseus.
The old part of Jaffa is quite small as you can imagine it would have been 2000 years ago. The main center is relatively new with a fountain, bridge, and mosaic of the constellations. You will find the beautiful St Peter’s Church and around the corner and down the street, which was actually stairs, you will find Simon the Tanner’s house where Peter had his vision on the roof. I enjoyed walking around the port area and the Visitor’s Center has a funny short movie showing the history of the town which I recommend seeing.
Since I got in late in the afternoon the first day I simply walked around and did the sightseeing the next morning. By 10am I was ready to catch a train to Jerusalem, which I am told goes on a scenic route and you pass through the area that David slayed Goliath (now a days this is a valley full of vineyards and supposed to be a great biking experience). Unfortunately, the train would not depart for two hours so I took the less scenic but much faster bus.
Once settled into my hotel just outside the city walls (which have their own fascinating history), between Damascus Gate (built in 1537) and Herod’s Gate, I headed into the city and walked the Via Dolorosa. This is the route Jesus walked from his trial to his death on the cross. It consists of the 14 stations of the cross and ends at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
Within this church you will find the location of the cross where Jesus was crucified and the holy tomb he resurrected from. Some people claim that this is not the correct location because it is within the city walls and not a garden, but this
has been the accepted location from the beginning since a Roman Emperor built a temple to Aphrodite within 100 years of Jesus’s death in order to bury his tomb. The church itself was started in 335 by Constantine the Great and the tomb is in the middle of the church with stairs up to the location of the cross.
All of this was outside of the city walls 2000 years ago and the current walls were constructed by Suleiman the Magnificent of the Ottoman Empire starting in 1532.
As these are the two holiest sites of the Christian faith, because without the crucifixion and resurrection there would be no Christians, it was an extremely moving experience seeing where he was sacrificed for my sins and a great start to my pilgrimage. With that said do not expect it to be as it was when Christ was there, because over the centuries the importance of the locations caused different rulers and churches to protect and highlight both sites with chapels, buildings, and religious adornments. Also be prepared to be assaulted by people asking to be your guide over and over.
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