This year was the best Holy Week and Easter of my entire life. One can not be in the same city where Jesus suffered, died and rose again, and not be moved. Now I am not referring to some momentary inflated feelings, but more about the deeper understanding of the words and places of the Bible as they become tangible. Where the words that you have read most of your life, come off the pages and reveal themselves in real life.
We had the opportunity to walk down the Mount of Olives on Palm Sunday with thousands of other believers. We were able to retrace Jesus' triumphal entry where He entered Jerusalem and people lined the streets with palm branches and garments shouting, "Hosanna (meaning, 'save now') in the highest." Riding on a donkey, that day Jesus fulfilled the prophesy of Zechariah 9:9:
"Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king coming unto you; righteous and having salvation is he; humble and riding upon a donkey, even upon a colt, the foal of a donkey."
People of different ages, tongues, nations, denominations, and churches marched down the Mt. of Olives. Some were reading, others walking in silence, and yet others were singing and dancing.
We joined this very festive, Spanish, singing group all the way down to the end of the "march." It must have taken us at least an hour and a half to get down the mountain, by that time we had learned three songs in Spanish. It was amazing to be united with other believers and worship the same God, even though having never met nor knowing each others language.
The following Friday we went to a triclinium dinner. It was hosted by one of the classes from our college in Jerusalem. A triclinium dinner is a Roman style of dining where the tables are in a U-shape, they are set low and everyone at the table lies during the meal. This is the type of dinner that Jesus and His disciples had during the last supper. Luke 22:14 "When the hour came, Jesus and His disciples reclined at the table."
Vadim gets a foot wash by one of the host's "servants" before the meal because in ancient times this was a sign of hospitality since people back then traveled on dusty roads and a foot wash was highly desirable before a meal.
Typically there wouldn't be people sitting on the inside of the "U," but only on the outside because the inside served as an access to the table for the servants.
We had a great meal using bread as our spoon/fork, just like it was done in ancient times.
Dr. Wright gave us a little more information after the meal about the significance of where people sat at the table, where Jesus and His disciples sat, His last hours, and much more. Amazing information! If anyone is interested to learn more, please feel free to email me.
As a child I remember waking up at the crack of dawn on Easter morning in order to make it to the sunrise service in church. I loved doing that and this year I remembered just how much I miss it.
On Easter Vadim and I awoke during the night in order to make it to the "Garden Tomb" for the sunrise service. Once there, we could barely find a place to sit due to hundreds of people already present in the garden. It was an amazing service and worship with believers from all over the world. Verses like, "Glorious, He stands above the rulers of the earth" and "The greatest day in history, death is beaten. You have rescued me. Sing it out Jesus is alive. The empty cross, the empty grave. Life eternal, you have won the day. Shout it out, 'Jesus is alive, He's alive.'" were sung in the middle of Jerusalem, a city where Islam and Judaism reigns. Words can not express the awe one feels during such a service in such a place.
I should mention that it is not 100% known which garden and which tomb Jesus was in. So this particular garden could possibly not be the tomb where Jesus was laid. But I guess that doesn't matter too much since it's not the place that we worship nor consider holy but it is Jesus who is holy and what He did through the grave is what we worship.