By Soror Fannie Ivy
I thank God for allowing me the opportunity to travel safely to Israel for a pilgrimage during the autumn of 2018. As I reflect on this journey, I still feel the excitement and anticipation of visiting many of the places that I have read and heard about in the Bible time and time again. Moreover, there is also a sense of gratitude, amazement, and humility, that I have now walked on the very ground that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ walked.
Although the schedule was intense, the memories will last a lifetime. Some of the highlights include:
Viewing the tomb that could not hold our Lord Jesus Christ (Luke 24:2)
Visiting the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus asked the disciples to pray with Him and was later arrested (Matthew 26:36-56)
Being baptized in the Jordan River where John baptized Jesus and the voice of God declaring, “This is my son in whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:13-17)
Visiting the site of the Sermon on the Sea of Galilee during a night cruise (Mark 4:35-41)
Experiencing the presence of the Holy Spirit in the Upper Room as we prayed, sang, and worshipped just as they did on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1)
With an open mind and willing heart, my spiritual journey was transformed from mere words in the Bible to a personal encounter with Jesus as I traveled the Via Dolorosa Road. Although not mentioned by name in the Bible, this is believed to be the road in which Jesus carried his cross to Calvary after the people decided to “crucify him” while freeing Barabbas the murder. (Matthew 27:15-26)
There are now vendor booths on both sides of the street selling souvenirs—shawls, t-shirts, books, and other items, for tourists to purchase. They were calling out as we passed by, “Come take a look.” However, we did not stop to shop because we were there for a different purpose--to walk the path that led to our salvation.
Once a dirt road, the Via Dolorosa is now paved with steps. Along the path, there are 14 plaques and markers detailing the significant events that occurred on the day of the Crucifixion. It was during this time, that I no longer heard the voices of the vendors as I began to concentrate on the gravity of my pilgrimage. My heart and mind recalled that over 2,000 years ago, Jesus was beaten beyond recognition, mocked, and forced to carry his own cross upon his shoulders to his crucifixion at Golgotha--also called the place of the skull. (Mark 15:22) I began to visualize his body badly beaten with open scars and wounds. The crown of thorns pressed on his head and piecing the skin causing the blood to flow down his face and back. The hot sun was scorching and the wooden cross weighing Jesus down because of its weight.
Yet, He still continued to walk the path with the blood and sweat penetrating His wounds. Jesus continually falls down but then rises over and over again. Even with Simon of Cyrene helping to carry the cross (Matthew 27:32), the journey was still difficult and painful for Jesus as He walked like a man, not as God.
Now was the time. Jesus had to fulfill the will of the Father. (Matthew 36:42) He gave His life for the ransom of many; even the very ones who mocked him as he said: “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23: 34 NIV) Jesus could have made the decision to forego crucifixion. But, MY Jesus continued on the path to finish the assignment. In the end, giving up the spirit that was within. (Luke 23:46) Hallelujah, Hallelujah Hallelujah!! Yes, I began to worship and praise my savior for sacrificing His life for me.
As I reflect during this Easter season, my spirit is lifted and my soul overjoyed for Jesus’s death, burial, and resurrection. Death could not hold the one who holds all power in His hand. Let us Rejoice for Jesus lives! (Luke 24:51) Remember, Jesus saves.
“For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten son that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)