Jerusalem is an ancient city saturated in religious custom and holy places. It has witnessed the world through the annuls of time and has experienced more tears of devastation and joy than any other city in history. It has been created and destroyed more time than can be counted and still to this day thrives as the place that God saves for Himself. This is the Holy city here on earth. It is the place that God set aside for Himself and the place that has seen the most controversy, love, hatred, salvation, and loss than any other city can ever fathom.
In many ways, time began here. This is where the most important spiritual battle ever took place -the battle that was waged to save all of mankind from total and irrevocable destruction. It was the battle between good and evil, and Jesus prevailed! Now, this city provides a dream that almost every Christian wants to experience at least once in their lifetime. It is a dream to visit this most-holiest of cities and absorb all of what makes Jerusalem the dearest city in the world.
It is the innate need within our Christian soul to see what Jesus saw and to walk where He trod. It is the spiritual yearning, not to seek proof, but to touch the things of this world that He touched and to experience a little of what Christ experienced for us. Though all of Jerusalem is a wonder to behold, there are certain sites that speak to Christians on a spiritual level that cannot be explained with mere words. These are the places where Jesus walked, where He preached, and where He showed His love for all humanity. These are the places to visit while you are there. They are, without a doubt, the holiest places in Jerusalem to feel the love of God.
The Mount of Olives:
Though this mount is not in technically within the city limits it has always been associated with Jerusalem. Jesus walked the path from Jericho up to this mountain several times. This is where Jesus got his first look at the holy city. During His triumphal entry, he rode the donkey from this mount into the city proper. He gave His Olivet Discourse about the end of the world here-found in the Biblical passage Matthew 24:3.
This was also the place where Jesus ascended into Heaven. A Chapel of Ascensions stands there to this day to commemorate the event. Christians today also see this mount as a promise for our future! This is where Jesus’ Second Coming will be as predicted in Zechariah 14:1-21.
“Then the Lord will go forth and fight against those nations, as He fights in the day of battle. And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which faces Jerusalem on the east.” Zechariah 14:3-4
The Garden of Gethsemane:
This sacred garden with its weathered olive trees resides at the base of the Mount of Olives and is a sacred, tranquil space filled with historical significance. This is where Jesus and His disciples would often meet to pray and to fellowship. It is nearly impossible to kill an olive tree and its branches have been a symbol of peace to the world since the days of Noah. How symbolic it is then, that this was the special place where Jesus was betrayed by Judas Iscariot and arrested to begin His long and excruciating journey that would lead to his beating, crucifixion, and resurrection. Jesus could not be contained by death and became a gift of peace and salvation to the world. Matthew 26:36 begins the account of Jesus’ sacrifice from this very garden.
Gethsemane means “oil press” and archeologists have indeed found ancient presses within a small cave beside the garden.
This sacred path is the trail that Jesus took up through the city and up to Golgotha where He was crucified for our sins. This holy path represents the Trail of Tears of Christianity. It was a path that Jesus walked and stumbled as He attempted to carry the heavy burden of His cross upon His bruised and bloodied back. There is some question about the historical accuracy of the site that is labeled to be the location of this avenue of love and sacrifice. Historians still debate over the exact location. Facts boil down to where King Herod was residing at the time for wherever he resided, so then was the location for the trial that decided the crucifixion of Christ.
Many say that it was where the Via Dolorosa is depicted today as many assume that Pilot heard Jesus at the Antonia Fortress that is found at the northwest corner of the Temple Mount. Many believe it was here that Jesus was led up to Golgotha. Others believe the ancient writings of Josephus who was a historian of the time and witnessed some of the actual events. He conveyed that the Roman governor took residence in Herod’s Great palace that is located beside Jaffa’s Gate and this is where Pilot judged from.
Wherever the path was, one thing is for sure. It was in this holy city where Jesus sacrificed Himself for all of the mankind. He was not the victim but perpetrated events to sacrifice Himself for us. He sacrificed His life to be given for ours. He was not the victim but the victor!
Church of the Holy Sepulcher:
This is the holiest of holy places for our Christian journey to Jerusalem. All scholars agree that this is the location at which Jesus was crucified, buried, and resurrected. This church is placed on the spot that was known as Golgotha.
Golgotha got its name from the Latin language meaning, “The Place of the Skull”. Though Christians have had worship here on this site since AD66, the church that is built today is a large representation of the Crusader period.
Jerusalem stands as one of the physical representations of Christ’s ministry on earth. It is thought to be the most valuable piece linking ancient history, the present, and our faith-filled future. Whether one believes in Jesus as the Messiah or not, all historians and archeologists agree that He indeed lived, ministered, was judged by the authorities of the time, was crucified, and buried yet left no human remains to His existence. Meaning He ascended though skeptics will still debate that issue, but didn’t the Bible also say that there would always be those that doubted? God proclaims Jesus as the Messiah, and the Bible proclaims Him as the Messiah from its very foundations rooted in time. Jerusalem seems a city set apart from the rest of the world. It is a special place loved by both God and man.