Sunday, February 27, 2011

Holy Land Pilgrimage – Lessons from the Via Delarosa

Note: In January 2011 my wife and I went on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. This post is part of a series of blogs I have written to convey what I learned while on this life changing trip. You can read about the entire trip in the devotional book Touching the Footprints of Jesus.

I fondly recall the day my wife and I walked around the Old City in Jerusalem. We walked down the Via Delarosa, which commemorates the route which Jesus took as He carried the cross to Golgotha. Often referred to as “the Way of Suffering,” the Via Delarosa has 14 “stations” or stopping points. Each station reminds pilgrims along the route of various aspects of Christ’s suffering.

Even though the current narrow route in the Old City in Jerusalem is 30 feet above the original road and some of the Stations of the Cross are nowhere near their original places, I was still moved to think of what that route symbolizes to Christians around the world and to me personally. Despite the historical inaccuracies of some of the current locations of the Stations of the Cross, they are still powerful reminders of what our Lord suffered for us. Though it pains me to admit it, I confess that I have often taken our Lord’s sacrifice for granted. Walking the Via Delarosa helped me refocus and contemplate afresh and a new what it cost Jesus to redeem me from my sin.

At one spot along the route, we visited a 1000 year old church that is built over the traditional site of Mary’s parent’s house. The church had amazing acoustics and a person standing in the front speaking in a quiet voice could be heard around the room. Choirs that stood in that spot and sang sounded like a multitude of angels singing on high. Though our group was not a choir, we did decide to sing several songs of praise to the Lord Jesus. It sounded so powerful that we could not help but lift our hands toward heaven as we sang of what He had done for us along that route. One day, multitudes of Christians from around the world will stand before the throne and we will sing praise to the King of Kings and it will sound even more amazing than that acoustically perfect church.

Just outside that particular church was the ruins of the pool of Bethesda. That was the pool mentioned in John 5 which sick people waited beside in hopes that an angel would come stir the waters. When the waters were stirred, it was popular belief that whoever got in the water first would be healed. Jesus is still stirring the hearts of those who seek Him, but we no longer have to try to be the “first” in order to be healed. Now the door is open wide for anyone who seeks Him to experience spiritual healing in His name. And there is room at the cross for anyone who desires to be healed of the sickness of sin.

At another stop along that route we stood near the place where Jesus was whipped. Pilgrims are no longer allowed to visit the actual site because it is controlled by Muslims. But hundreds of years ago Christians built a replica of the site on the other side of the road. The church built to commentate His beating had old Roman flagstones from the original Roman street embedded in the floor. Those flagstones had a game etched into it. It would have been a game similar to what the soldiers played as they gambled for Jesus’ clothes. I was moved as I stood there looking at that game etched into the floor. I could not help but wonder how many people are gambling with their soul in hopes that the claims Jesus made about Himself were not real. But Jesus’ claim to be the Messiah is real and those who gamble with their souls will lose that wager.

Lord, help me share Your love with those around me so they can find the assurance they need for eternal life.

4 comments:

  1. Gary and Margaret RogersFebruary 27, 2011 at 4:44 PM

    I like this.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Arika Andrews DorsettFebruary 27, 2011 at 4:44 PM

    I like this too.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thanks for this. It was moving to read as part of my Holy Week meditations.

    ReplyDelete