Visit Jerusalem and Retrace Jesus’ Steps
A couple weeks ago we shared with you a list of 10 places in Israel where Jesus walked. From biblical accounts and archeological discoveries, we can draw out a pretty accurate map of where Jesus spent His life on earth. Today we invite you on yet another journey in Jesus’ steps – but this time specifically in and around Jerusalem!
Some locations seem more significant than others. Especially when all four Gospels mention them and the miracles Jesus did there. Our previous list included 10 remarkable spots in the Galilee and Judea, the region surrounding Jerusalem. Today we are venturing into this extraordinary city, to see where Jesus walked in His last days.
Jesus visited Jerusalem many times throughout his life. But it was the week leading up to the Cross that was filled with the most significant and life-changing events. What happened in these seven days shaped history.
Here are five locations where Jesus was in the days leading up to the Cross:
1. Eastern Gate (Golden Gate)
The Sunday before Jesus’ death and resurrection opens the so-called “Holy Week” in the Christian calendar. It is not accidental that this is the day we start commemorating Jesus’ greatest sacrifice. That Sunday He arrived in Jerusalem, prepared for what was to come. It was the day of the Triumphant Entry – after telling His disciples to find a donkey, Jesus rode on the animal into the city through the Eastern Gate. The crowds welcomed Him with palm branches and shouted “Hosanna!”, meaning ‘save us’.
The famous Eastern Gate is also called the Golden Gate (and it predates the San Francisco use of the name by a few millennia). To get the best view of it, go up the western incline of the Mount of Olives. From what we understand, this is where Jesus walked very often. Pro tip: if you get a chance to visit the Temple Mount, you can get pretty close to the Eastern Gate from the inside.
2. Upper Room
The day before He was betrayed, Jesus observed the first evening of Passover with His disciples. They borrowed a room from an unnamed man and followed the traditional order (in Hebrew “Seder”) of the Passover meal. Jesus visited this site to inaugurate the Lord’s Supper and told His disciples that His blood would be shed for the forgiveness of sins (Matthew 26:28). It was a touching night for everyone involved.
The spot considered to be location of the Last Supper has been rebuilt by the crusaders. Today, it is a beautiful hall where you are welcome to pray and worship with your group (which is not always the case at historical sites). This traditional setting is right above the Tomb of David, another significant location frequented by the Jewish people.
3. Garden of Gethsemane
Here, among the olive trees, Jesus and His disciples spent a lot of quality time with each other and with the Father. Usually they went there to rest, pray and admire Jerusalem from an excellent vantage point. But on that particular week, their time there was different. It was in the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus was betrayed. Mere hours before that happened, the Messiah was pouring out His soul to His Father. He was in such agony that His sweat dropped like blood.
We know for a fact that Jesus walked all over the Mount of Olives regularly. The Garden of Gethsemane today is still an olive grove, home to centuries-old olive trees. Current residents split up the western slope of the Mount of Olives into smaller properties, but several of them are still open to visitors.
4. House of Caiaphas
When Jesus was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane, where Judas betrayed Him, the Temple guards took Him to the house of Caiaphas, the high priest. Peter followed the crowd that took Jesus away, and it was in Caiaphas’s courtyard where bystanders asked Peter, if He was a follower of Jesus. Peter denied this three times. At this location, Jesus was charged with blasphemy and held overnight in a cellar prison.
The Church of Saint Peter in Gallicantu was built on top of an ancient prison area. Many believe this is where Jesus was held that night. The first-century caves and cisterns are open to visitors and are definitely worth seeing.
5. Garden Tomb / Holy Sepulchre
The last location on our list is the one that carries the most weight. This perplexing week in Jerusalem, that started with Jesus’ triumphant entry and was about to end in heartbreak, concluded at “a place called Golgotha, that is to say, Place of a Skull” (Matthew 27:33). Many witnessed Jesus’ death on the Cross. Soon after, a few faithful followers laid Him to rest in a tomb in nearby garden. But three days later He rose again!
There are two sites in Jerusalem that commemorate these events. The Holy Sepulchre, in the Christian Quarter of the Old City, is an old and complex church building reaching the 4th century. Outside the present-day city walls there is also the Garden Tomb. Discovered in the 20th century, the site includes an empty tomb, ancient cisterns and is located right next to a hill resembling a skull.
We hope that the above list, coupled with the 10 Places Where Jesus Walked, inspired you to study the land of the Bible more. May it give you something to look forward to on your next trip to Israel!
Have you walked in the footsteps of Jesus? Join us next year on our Jerusalem Encounter tour!