Saturday, April 14, 2012

Church of the Ascension

My favorite of the three towers on the Mount of Olives is the Russian Church of the Ascension. Despite the unfortunate treatment of some of the clergy towards our students for being "Mormons" (which is interestingly the only opposition we've faced from any other Christian group since being here--most other Christians, and even Jews and Muslims have been very accepting of us), the site celebrates the resurrected Christ's ascension into heaven after His visit to the disciples (see the Bible Dictionary for more information).

Christ's ascension from the Mt. of Olives
The Triumphal Entry

Raising Lazarus from the dead



Friday, April 13, 2012

Base of the Temple Mount

Much of the Temple Mount that stood during the time of Jesus stands today. Granted, the actual platform is controlled by Muslims, the Al-Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock standing where the Temple once was. However, the stairs that long ago lead up to the Temple can still be visited today, though the former entrances have been sealed shut.

Stairs leading up to the Temple Mount

All of the stairs are different heights and widths, forcing the pilgrim to think about each step as she or he ascends to enter the Temple--the presence of God. I loved that symbolism, as we often symbolically strive to focus our thought on God as we enter our Temples.

Pinnacle of the Temple, where Jesus
was tempted of satan (see Matthew 4:5)
Sealed Hulda Gate, through which
Jesus likely entered the Temple

Quite the political statement...can't imagine all of the Israeli flags around the Temple Mount encourage peace



Thursday, April 12, 2012

Resurrection Sunday at the Garden Tomb

April 8th marked over 2000 years since the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. I was fortunate enough to participate in a sunrise worship service at the Garden Tomb with a group of Christians from all across the world. It was quite the event! You can watch the service online here. I show up in the filming a few times with a large group of my classmates. Our friends at the Garden Tomb reserved those of us from BYU front row seats for the service. It was a wonderful day of much rejoicing at the "good news" of the Gospel of Jesus Christ!



Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Maundy Thursday

On April 5th I celebrated Maundy Thursday, which marks the day when Christ met in the Upper Room with the Apostles, instituted the Sacrament, suffered in the Garden of Gethsemane, and was illegally arrested and tried by the Sanhedrin.

Dome of the Rock
One of my favorite churches we visited was the St. Peter Gallicantu, which means "the cock crowed." It is located on the spot where many believe Caiphas' palace was located. We read of this story in Matthew 26, among other places. I loved the way the Church displayed Peter's three denials of knowning Christ, sharply contrasted with his three declarations that he loved the Lord in John 21, which is one of my favorite chapters in the New Testament. Whatever Peter may have done, the Resurrected Savior clearly showed His faith in Peter as His senior Apostle; and Peter became the great Apostle the moment he committed forever to Christ on the shore of Galilee.

Peter's denials
Peter's affirmations

Daniel made some new friends :)

We read the account of Jesus in Gethsemane under these Olive trees on the Mount of Olives



Monday, April 9, 2012

Palm Sunday

One of my top three moments in Israel thus far was Palm Sunday, which took place on April 1st. Christians from around the world met together to reenact Jesus' Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem, and man is it a party :) Why wouldn't it be? It marks the very beginning of Holy Week, and the last time that people were really celebrating Christ's earthly ministry before His arrest, trial, and execution. The only day more joyous than Palm Sunday celebrates His overcoming death with the resurrection.

Biblically a crowd gathered as Jesus made His entry into Jerusalem on a donkey, lying down their clothes, waving palm branches, and crying "Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord." (see John 12:13) These four things signified the coming of the King, or Messiah.


Our march into Jerusalem began at a church commemorating Bethphage, went past the Garden of Gethsemane, and through the city gates. We sang songs, danced, cheered, and celebrated the life and teachings of our Savior, Jesus Christ with our other Christian brothers and sisters from around the world. It was a memorable experience.

The procession consisted of every Christian denomination imaginable
The procession entering Jerusalem's gate