For Americans, places like Jerusalem are almost too much to take in. We are accustomed to our own almost 400-year-old culture. We visit the east coast and view 250-year-old buildings with awe and a profound sense of our history. When we see remains of walls and portions of city streets that are 2,000 and more years old, we have a great deal of difficulty understanding it. That is the way I felt very often in Israel and, particularly, in Jerusalem. And it’s not only the antiquity of the remains, but it is also the life-changing events that occurred within those walls and on those city streets.
In the United States we can see the places where the history of the British Colonies in America was forever changed, but in Jerusalem we can see the places where the destiny of mankind was forever changed. To think that our Savior walked as a Man within these walls, that He taught on these steps, that He dragged His wounded body through these crowded streets to the place of the crucifixion is something that words cannot appropriately express.
Today, the old city of Jerusalem is busy and noisy, filled with shopkeepers selling olive wood carvings and pomegranate juice and t-shirts, and with tourists trying to take pictures of everything while keeping up with their tour groups, and with families and children visiting the Western Wall to pray. But still, if you take the time, you can imagine a rag-tag group of men following an ordinary-looking Man to the Temple. You can imagine jealous men spying on that ordinary Man, seeking a way to destroy Him. You can imagine the people thronging the crowded streets, one day cheering the ordinary Man and days later screaming for His execution. And if you are very still, you can imagine the rumors flying through the city that the ordinary Man is not so ordinary after all. In fact people are whispering that He has risen from the dead and has been seen by many people.
And then suddenly, we are back in the 21st century, listening to our tour guide, watching to see where he points, looking for the place to take photographs, staying with the group, and wondering when and where we will have lunch and just how much time we will have for shopping. Amazing!
Three days we spent in the old city and I could easily have spent many more. So many impressions, both of the ancient city and of the modern city. How can I tell which are the most important to share with you? I can only pick my favorites (and perhaps the best photos). Join me and we’ll walk the streets of the Holy City together.