My Journey in Jerusalem

Have you ever heard of those “Walk Through Bethlehem” events at church during Christmas time, where you walk through the scenes during the time of the birth of Jesus and experience what it might have been like? (Obviously, the stable was much dirtier than the church sanctuary, but you get the idea) Well this Easter my church put on a “Walk Through Jerusalem” event called, “Walk with Jesus.” It was a walk through Jerusalem during the time of the crucifixion. There were five stations.

The first station was a reenactment of Jesus riding into Jerusalem. Prior to beginning this, each participant colored cardboard cut outs of palm branches to place under Jesus’ feet. Our youth pastor, James, played “Jesus.” We decided to nix the donkey since this “Hosanna” moment was inside the nice clean church and upstairs. You can imagine the complications had there been a live donkey. The hallway “Jesus” would walk down was lined with the participants who had palm branches and articles of clothing in hand. I was the photographer, so it was my job to seize every opportunity to capture a great photo, and make it look as realistic as possible. As “Jesus” started walking down the hallway, everyone began yelling “Hosanna, Hosanna” and laying down their palm branches and garments so His feet did not touch the dusty Jerusalem roads.

Then, I let my imagination run wild.

I saw Him, the Jesus of Jerusalem, riding toward me. Covered in dust, dirty from His travels, worn from the journey, but smiling. His eyes were kind, His smile full of love. He had arrived. The Messiah had come. I heard myself exclaim, “Hosanna, Hosanna!”

I snapped back into reality, clicked some pictures and went onto the next station.

Station number two brought us to the Last Supper. “Jesus” was breaking bread, passing a cup of wine, and washing the feet of Peter. As He informed a surprised Peter that he would deny Him, “Jesus” went back to His seat and revealed that Judas would betray Him.

Then, I let my imagination run wild.

The Messiah, the Savior had come to take the sins of the world, yet His own men, the ones He had so faithfully discipled and loved would deny Him, betray Him, ignore Him. I felt the hurt that must have engulfed Him. Yet He still did what he had to do.

I snapped back into reality, clicked some pictures and went onto the next station.

Station number three was the Garden of Gethsemane – the place of betrayal. “Judas” entered the scene armed with Roman guards and sealed the betrayal of “Jesus” with a kiss. Such a sincere and gentle gesture that would signal the biggest mistake Judas would ever make – betraying the Savior of the world.

Then, I let my imagination run wild.

They took Him away. Judas kissed the Lord after Jesus had healed the ear of a servant with multiple witnesses, and had done nothing wrong. They took Him away. And He let them. Why would He let them? Jesus could have stopped it all. He had the power. But He didn’t do it. He didn’t stop them. Because it’s what the Father had sent Him to do. He had to die. It was part of the plan. So they took Him away.

I snapped back into reality, clicked some pictures and went onto the next station.

In between station three and four, the Roman guards dragged “Jesus” through a crowd who yelled, “Crucify Him!” I was one of the people who had to yell these words. I didn’t want to, but it was part of the act. I had to help people see what it was like during that time.

Then, I let my imagination run wild.

“Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” I didn’t want to hear it. I didn’t want to say it. He is innocent. He shouldn’t have to die. Why is everyone yelling these words? Tears streamed down my cheeks as I watched the Messiah get dragged to the cross to be crucified. Crucified for MY sins. Dying a death I should be dying.

I snapped back into reality, clicked some pictures and went onto the next station as the words to an old hymn played in my mind.

“Behold the Man upon a cross,
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed I hear my mocking voice,
Call out among the scoffers
It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished”

Station four was the station for which my mom had prepared a script. She was playing Mary, the mother of Jesus. The group walked in and “Mary” had her hands over her ears blocking out the yells of the people wanting her son to be crucified. She began to recite the script I had heard her practice countless times earlier that day in our living room.

Then, I let my imagination run wild.

Mary’s heart was breaking. From carrying Jesus in her womb, to all the years of raising Him as a baby, toddler, and young boy into the man He is today. The man who is about to be crucified. How is this the plan? This isn’t how the story is supposed to go. This is not how a king is supposed to die. Or is it? She watched the soldiers nail Him to a cross. She saw Him suffer. Her son; God’s son – carrying the sins of the world on His shoulders. Suffering and dying. Yet, after Jesus had passed countless scoffers who spit on Him, soldiers who beat Him, hurt Him, and mockingly made a crown of thorns that they dug into his scalp, and friends who betrayed Him, Mary looked into His eyes, and found they were not eyes full of anger, hate, or disgust, they were eyes full of love. Love. That’s why He was doing this. Love. After six hours on a cross, He proclaimed, “It is finished!” The ground shook, rocks began to crumble, and the temple curtain – four inches thick that separated everyone from entering into the Holy of Holies – ripped down the middle and flew open. Everyone now had complete access to the Creator of the Universe.

I snapped back into reality, clicked some pictures and went onto the next station.

At station five, the final station, was the empty tomb. Just when things seemed hopeless because the Messiah had died, we come upon the empty tomb. Death could not keep Him. The grave could not hold him from rising again.

Then, I let my imagination run wild.

I could see it. Three days. Jesus had been dead three days. Oh the amazement when the angel proclaimed that Jesus had risen, just as He said he would. What awe. What joy. Praise God! He is alive! He is alive! His love kept Him on the cross, but the power of His promise could not keep Him in the grave. He is risen!

I snapped back into reality, clicked some pictures and it was over.

It was over, but my mind continued to race. Jesus died for me. ME. A sinner, an undeserving sinner, far from perfect and unworthy of love. Jesus was the perfect sacrifice. The only one who could fulfill the wrath of God through death on a cross. Can you imagine a love like that? It exists. It does. In the form of our Savior. He is ours. When we accept His gift of salvation, He lives inside of us.

If that doesn’t give you hope I don’t know what will. Imagine it – that kind of love, that kind of hope. Just do it – let your imagination run wild.

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