What the Holy Land Reveals About Holy Week
The central bureau of statistics in Jerusalem reported there were 4.5 million tourists who traveled to Israel in the year 2019. Considering the total population of Israel is nine million people and the geographical size of Israel is equivalent to the state of New Jersey, that is a staggering number of visitors!
Most of the visitors who travel to Israel do not see themselves as tourists. More than a mere vacation, millions of people travel to Israel every year as part of a spiritual pilgrimage.
They make a spiritual pilgrimage to Israel to visit the place where the Bible proclaims God became man in Bethlehem. You can stand in the vicinity of where the Cosmic Creator of the universe was born as a tender, fragile baby.
They make a spiritual pilgrimage to Israel to visit where our Immanuel, “God with us,” died for us in Jerusalem. Our all-powerful Creator demonstrated His love for us as He bled and died on a Roman cross.
Last year I had the honor of traveling to the Holy Land with my good friend Pete Hegseth. The purpose of this trip was to film a documentary on the life of Jesus from the very places Jesus lived, died and rose from the dead.
As hundreds of millions of Christians begin to reflect on the passion of Christ during Holy Week, here are some powerful ways the Holy Land confirms the infallible witness of Holy Scripture:
- The Triumphant Entry of Jesus: In the documentary we walk the very steps which Jesus walked when the crowd shouted “Hosanna” on the first Palm Sunday. We also walked the southern steps leading into the temple which are remarkably preserved to this day. As Reuven Doran, Director of Sar-El academy explains in the documentary, “If we had the technology to scrape the DNA content over these steps, you would find the DNA of the Son of God!”
- The Garden of Gethsemane: On the downward slope of the Mount of Olives you are still able to visit the place where Jesus cried out to His “Abba Father” the night before he was crucified. There are olive trees in the Garden of Gethsemane today that are nearly one thousand years old. From the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus could see the location where the Romans guards would nail him to a tree. The Bible says, “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree” (Galatians 3:13). Jesus knew in the Garden of Gethsemane that the curse proclaimed in the Garden of Eden could only be broken on the cross.
- The Via Dolorosa: In the Old City of Jerusalem today you can walk the Via Dolorosa, which means “the sorrowful way.” You can retrace the steps where Jesus was scourged beyond human semblance (see Isaiah 52-53). You can walk the same route where Jesus carried the cross to Golgotha (“the place of the skull”). From sorrow to the skull, from condemnation to crucifixion, the Via Dolorosa is the painful path the Son of God walked to save us from our sin. This, my friends, is the love God has for you.
- The Garden Tomb: Outside the northern gate of the city lies a place many historians believe could be the actual location of both Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection. Adjacent to a hill that looks like a skull lies a garden tomb that could be what the Gospel of John described two thousand years ago: “Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid” (John 19:41). Golgotha and the Garden Tomb confirm with amazing detail the historical accuracy of Holy Scripture.
In the end a visit to the Holy Land leads us to dive deeper into Holy Scripture. There we learn how our Holy God saves unholy sinners through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Pastor Steve Lawson once said, “The stone was rolled away from the tomb, not to let Jesus out, but to let the world in.”
Even if you are not able to literally step foot into the Garden Tomb in Jerusalem, you can make that spiritual pilgrimage in your heart. The Bible says, “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9).
Visiting the Holy Land is a remarkable experience, but greater still is the final Promised Land where Jesus will wipe away every tear and make all things new! (Revelation 21:1-5).