Saturday, January 24, 2009

Israel: Day Three!

The Jerusalem branch meets on Saturday in respect for the Israeli Government, and the Jewish people and their customs. We met in the chapel, which is on the 8th floor of the Jerusalem Center, and has huge windows looking out over the Old City. It is truly a spectacular sight—which would’ve been better if it weren’t for the fog that is covering the city today—oh well, we have one more Sabbath Day before we go home! Church was great—it is wonderful that no matter where you go around the world, that church is the same. It was especially humbling to partake of the sacrament in the Holy Land, however, and I found myself looking up scriptures of the Last Supper, and thinking of Christ and his sacrifice that was to come soon after. It is amazing that he knew what was coming, what was going to take place, and he left a way for us to remember him, and to repent of our sins. I am so grateful for the opportunity to partake of the sacrament each week and to remember him, and to try to do better. I feel so blessed to have the gospel in my life, and to have a Savior who knows me, and loves me, even with my imperfections, he still stands at the door and knocks.
This afternoon, after church, we had the opportunity to tag along with a group of students on a tour of the Garden Tomb. This is an old garden tomb next to an old rock quarry that wasn’t actually excavated until around 1867. Protestants regard this site, not the Church of the Holy Sepulchre as the site where Jesus was buried due to the fact that it would have been outside the city walls at the time of Christ, and no Jew would’ve been buried inside the city. The face of the rock quarry beside it resembles a skull, and we know that in John 19:17 it says, “And he bearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew, Golgotha.”Also, it was Joseph of Arimathaea who asked Pilate for Jesus’ body after he was crucified. We know that he was a rich man, a member of the Sanhedrin, or the Senate. The tomb is such that it would have belonged to a rich man. The tomb is rather large, divided into 2 sections, one for preparation of the body, and one for the sarcophagus. There is also a huge cistern under the garden that can hold 250,000 gallons of water, along with a wine press that dates back to ancient times. I thought that what the tour guide said was great though, he said, I don’t know if this is the place that Jesus was actually buried, but the important thing is not whether he was buried here—the important thing is what is NOT here. He lives, he is not here, for he is risen! I felt this place was sacred not because I had an overwhelming feeling that this IS the place, but I felt this was more like the place would’ve looked, and more like the place would’ve felt when Jesus was here. As we sat in the garden, the students went up and sat together and started singing hymns. I felt the spirit so strongly as they sang, “I know that my Redeemer Lives”. Truly he lives, and I am so grateful for that witness, and so grateful for that sacrifice. In Luke 24:1-6 it says, “Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared and certain others with them. And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre. And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus. And it came to pass as they were much perplexed thereabout behold, two men stood by them in shining garments: And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen…! What a blessing to know that my Redeemer lives! And because he lives, I can live again, and I can be with my family for eternity. This is a day I will never forget!


Kathy P said...

Amazing! What a priceless experience!

My Spiritual Thoughts said...

All of them look awesome! I hope you have so much fun!

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