Thursday, December 28, 2006

An Ending Like No Other...Part 1 (Holy Land #13 of 14)

We ended our final day of touring in the Holy Land with a stop at the top of the Mt of Olives, the view was spectacular. Our guide pointed out the Eastern Gate which the Lord entered the city through on Palm Sunday. You could see the place of the lat supper; Solomon’s portico where so much Bible History took place; Caiphas’ house where Jesus was condemned; and so much more. The Dome of the Rock was paramount on the Temple Mount. It was here where the great temple once stood. No wonder Jesus spent so much time here on the Mt of Olives with His disciples.

This was also the place where Jesus ascended into heaven 40 days following His resurrection. His followers watched as He ascended upward into the clouds. Two angels dressed in white appeared asking why they stood gazing up into heaven. “This very same Jesus,” they said, “Will return just as you have seen him go!” To think that this is where Jesus left the earth and one day it is where He is going to return…Hallelujah!

We then walked down to the garden of Gethsemane. This was the spot I had been waiting for the entire trip. Back in March when I preached on this story from Mark 14, I made the statement that if there was just one place in Israel that I could visit that I would like it to be the Garden of Gethsemane. At that time I had no idea that this trip would take place. Now, 8 months later there I was in the garden…that is just like God, isn’t it?

We went inside the Church of All Nations. In there was a huge stone in front of the altar that tradition says is the stone where Jesus agonized in prayer in the garden. I had Laura take my picture as I knelt down and touched this stone. If this wasn’t the spot where Jesus prayed in agony…it was no doubt somewhere very nearby.

We then walked down to a quiet place in the Garden surrounded by the Olive Trees where I gave a devotional. Dan Travis had asked me one night when we were out to dinner weeks before our trip what place I was most excited about seeing. When I told him it was Gethsemane he asked me if I would give a devotional there. Our guide had already given the background to the agony of Jesus so I focused on two key words.

First, I focused on the word “intimacy.” This was a spot where Jesus had many times of intimacy with His disciples. John 18 tells us that Judas knew where to bring the men who were sent to arrest Jesus because he had been there many times before with Jesus and the disciples. You could just imagine Jesus and the 12 sitting around a fire in the garden talking, laughing and learning. This was a place of intimacy with His disciples. It was also a special place of intimacy between Jesus and His Father. Here he called God “Abba, Father.” Jews did not use this name to address God because it was too intimate. It was a word used by a small child to call his father. In the English we could call it, “Daddy” or “dada.” Yet, Paul teaches that all of us as believers today can call out to God, “Abba Father.” The garden was definitely a place of intimacy. In tomorrow’s blog entry I will speak of the second word that I focused on in the Garden of Gethsemane.

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