Walking the footsteps of Jesus – Part 2

Module 5a – Google Maps Tour of the Bible by Johann Quisumbing

In module 5a, we will visit the Bible sites of where Jesus Christ walked during His last year of His ministry on Earth.

1 – Preparation

Jesus had done what He had to do in the north country. His final task was to happen in Jerusalem. But first, certain events needed to happen. So, our first stop is…

Click LINK 1 – BETHANY

This is a 360 aerial view of the southern side of the metropolitan city of Jerusalem. The drone that took this shot was hovering over the Mount of Olives. Look east. Then, look past the cluster of trees. Two thousand years ago, the village of Bethany was located there. And in that village was the home of some people that Jesus loved dearly.

Click LINK 2 – CHURCH of LAZARUS

You are inside the Church of St Lazarus. There are four frescoes painted under the four arches; north, west, east & south. Each of the frescoes represent a biblical scene of Jesus’ relations with Martha, Mary and Lazarus. Let’s start with the western fresco.

WestLuke 10:38-42 – Jesus met the 2 sisters, Martha & Mary for the first time. Mary was intently listening to Jesus. Meanwhile, Martha was working frantically to prepare and serve the meal for her quests. Frustrated, she scolded Him, asking Him whether He cared that her sister had left her to fix the meal alone. Jesus, in-turn, pointed out in a calm voice, that her need was not to be a perfect hostess but instead, to be spiritually fed by Him which was her greatest need.

NorthJohn 11:1-34 – Lazarus had died and was buried. Jesus had purposely stayed away. On the 4th day, He returned. Martha went to meet Him first. Her words to Him may have sounded more like a reprimand for being late. Jesus consoled her that Lazarus will live again. She mistakenly thought He was referring to the final resurrection. Then Jesus said these crucial words: “I am the resurrection and the life; the one who believes in Me will live, even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?” (v25,26) When Mary came to Him next, her words mirrored Martha but her tone was that of a grieving young girl. Jesus wept with her and went to the tomb.

EastJohn 11:38-45 – When they came to the tomb, Jesus again was deeply moved. He ordered the tomb to be opened but Martha tried to stop it. Jesus reminded her, “Did I not say to you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” (v40) This was His intent. After He prayed out loud, Lazarus came out of the tomb alive and many believed.

SouthMatthew 26:6-13 – Jesus’ final task was near. Jesus and all His followers were in Lazarus’ house for supper. Mary approached Jesus with a bottle of expensive aromatic oil which she lovingly dribbled on His head. Then, when Judas made a fuss about the perfume not being sold and given to the poor, Jesus acknowledged the righteousness of Mary’s deed and declared that what she did was to prepare Him for burial.

The next day, Jesus went to Jerusalem riding on a young donkey which was prophecy-come-to-life thing. The people lined the road waving palm fronds at Him. They recognized it as the coming of the King (Zechariah 9:9). When they went over the Mount of Olives, this was what was waiting for them.

2 – Jerusalem Ministry

Click LINK 3 – JERUSALEM MODEL

You are looking at a beautiful scale model of the ancient city of Jerusalem circa 63AD. The model is about 22,000 square feet and is located at the Israel Museum about 2 miles west from the Dome of the Rock. From this viewpoint on the observation deck, you are looking at the eastern side of the city. Note the image below of what you are looking at.

The scaled facsimile Temple you see was based on the Second Temple built by the returned Judean exiles, then opulently refurbished by Herod the Great. In Mark 13, when standing on the Mount of Olives, the disciples pointed out the lavishness of the Temple complex and was awed by it. But for Jesus, all it brought was tears to His eyes, for He saw its destruction (v2) which did occur 35 years from then. But we are getting ahead of the story. Let’s go to the…

Click LINK 4 – EASTERN WALL

You’re virtually standing on the eastern slope of Mt Moriah. Yes… the same mountain that Abraham almost sacrificed his son, Isaac (Genesis 22). What you are looking at, is the remnant of the east wall of the Temple Mount. Now, look east. That’s the Mount of Olives and that pyramid-topped monument is Zechariah’s Tomb, who was a priest whose stoning was recorded in 2 Chronicles 24:21. Below that is the Kidron Valley.

Imagine on that valley road, some 2000 years ago, hundreds of people waving palm fronds leading a man riding on a white donkey. The people were joyously shouting…

“Blessed is the King, the One who comes in the name of the Lord; Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” (Luke 19:38)

Among the crowd were Pharisees who were demanding that Jesus stop them of their praise. But Jesus came back with this, “I tell you, if these stop speaking, the stones will cry out!” (v40) Then, Jesus entered through the east gate which was also called the ‘Beautiful Gate’ into the Temple Complex. It was called the ‘Beautiful Gate’ in expectation of the arrival of the promised Messiah.

Click LINK 5 – TEMPLE MOUNT

Welcome to the southside of the Temple Mount. You are standing on what was once called the Court of the Gentiles. This courtyard was vast and was able to hold thousands of people. Now, what you see before you are the broken crowns of the columns that once surrounded the entire courtyard. They were called Solomon’s Colonnades.

When Jesus entered, it was during the beginning of the annual Passover Festival which was the celebration of what God did to free the Israelites from slavery in Egypt (Exodus 12). Jews from all over would congregate here to offer their sacrifices to the Lord and they would have to purchase the animals required. But here lied the situation, the money changers, with the blessings of the Temple establishment, would routinely cheat the people. Hence, whenever Jesus came to the Passover Festival, He would drive away the animals and turn over their tables, spilling their coins on the ground. Then, He declared, “My Temple will be called a house of prayer,’ but you have turned it into a den of thieves!” (Matthew 21:13)

As Passover approached, Jesus sent two of the disciples into the city to find a man carrying a pitcher of water and follow him. That man led them to our next site…

Click LINK 6 – THE UPPER ROOM

You are inside the Cenacle, also known as the Upper Room. It is located on Mount Zion, just outside the Old City walls, west of the City of David. The Upper Room was where Jesus held the Last Supper (John 13). Of course, this room is not the actual room. That room was destroyed with the city back in 70AD.

The original Upper Room had witnessed, on that same night, the Son of God wrapping a towel around His waist then proceeded to wash the disciples’ feet (13:5-12). Besides all the spiritual lessons for His disciples, Jesus revealed that He would be betrayed by one of the Twelve (vs21-25). Of course, that would be Judas Iscariot whom the Devil entered (v27). We’ll see him again at…

Click LINK 7 – GETHSEMANE

Gethsemane is a garden at the foot of the Mount of Olives, east of the Temple Mount. Jesus went there after the Last Supper. It was a favorite place of His to pray as was His habit to seek isolated places for this purpose.

Going Through An Oil Press

According to Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the BibleGethsemane is translated from the Greek to mean “an oil press.” Jesus going to Gethsemane to pray because of what awaited Him can be compared to Him going through an oil press… a spiritual and emotional press, that is.

Filled with anguish and deep dread over what He would soon experience, Jesus withdrew with His inner circle, the three disciples closest to Him, and took refuge here. Alone on His knees in the dark night beneath the shelter of olive trees, where He sweated blood, Jesus cried out to His Father God with these words.

“My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.” (Matthew 26:39)

Jesus passed the final test. The set for the final scene was staged.

Jesus woke up His companions to tell them that His betrayer was here and sure enough, Judas Iscariot arrived to betray Him with a kiss (26:49). After which, Jesus was arrested and brought to our next site.

3 – The Final Act

Click LINK 8 – HOUSE of CAIAPHAS

Before you is the Church of Saint Peter in Gallicantu which is a Roman Catholic church located on the eastern slope of Mount Zion, just outside the Old (walled) City of Jerusalem. According to tradition, this church was built over the ruins of Caiaphas’ house. Joseph ben Caiaphas was the Jewish high priest who, according to the gospels, organized a plot to kill Jesus. He famously presided over the Sanhedrin trial of Jesus.

Click LINK 8a – GALLICANTU

You are now standing in the church’s courtyard and are facing a sculpture of Peter. Interestingly enough, the church took its name from the Latin word “Gallicantu” which means a ‘cock’s-crow’. Take note the small statue of the rooster above Peter. The sculptures depict a servant recognizing Peter as Jesus’ follower but he denied knowing Him three times. Then, the cock crowed as prophesied by Jesus a few hours before.

Meanwhile, Jesus was standing beaten and spat on, before Caiaphas and his ‘kangaroo court’ which he secretly assembled for one purpose. He wanted to declare Him as a blasphemer and have Him killed. (Matthew 26:65-68) But they could not kill Jesus themselves, so they brought Him to the Romans.

Click LINK 9 – FORTRESS ANTONIA

You are standing on the west side of the Jerusalem model. Centered on your screen, left of the man in a suit, is the Fortress Antonia which was built by Herod the Great for Mark Anthony. It was built attached to the northwest corner of the Temple Mount as a constant reminder to the Jews that it was Rome that was in control. It is not clear if Pontus Pilate held residences here but according to tradition, Jesus’ public trial was conducted before the main entrance into the fortress which takes us to the…

Click LINK 10 – CHURCH of the FLAGELLATION

You’re in the courtyard of the Church of the Flagellation which is a Roman Catholic church and Christian pilgrimage site located in the Muslim Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem. It is part of the Franciscan Monastery of the Flagellation, which also includes the Church of the Condemnation and Imposition of the Cross. This church was built on the same site of the Roman fortress.

Imagine some 2000 years ago, Jesus stood before the Roman Governor awaiting the verdict of the highest judge of the land. And that verdict was ‘NOT guilty’! (John 18:38) But the High Priest and the worked-up crowd wanted Him dead. So, Pilate , trying to appease the mob, brought out a notorious criminal named Barabbas and had them choose between them for release. But the crowd chose Barabbas to be free. Pilate was still not willing, so he had Jesus cruelly flogged. After which, He was brought before the people again. He was bloodied from the scourging and cruelly imbedded on His head was a crown of thorns. But it did not appease the crowd which kept insisting for His blood. So, Pilate washed his hands on this affair and sent Him to His death. (John 19:1-16)

So, from here we go to…

Click LINK 11 – VIA DOLOROSA

This narrow bricked street is the Via Dolorosa which is Latin for the “Way of Suffering”. Every Holy Week, this street becomes the processional route of the cross in the Old City of Jerusalem. It represents the path that Jesus would have taken, forced by the Roman soldiers, on the way to His crucifixion. Pilgrims, some carrying heavy crosses, would work their way through this cr0wded and winding route, from where the former Antonia Fortress was, to the place that tradition say was the hill of Golgotha — a distance of about 2,000 feet. Along the way, they would pause at nine (9) ‘Stations of the Cross’, each one commemorating the events of Jesus as He carried the cross based on Luke 23. Below is 4 minute music video of the Via Dolorasa.

Then, after walking the Via Dolorosa, the procession would end at what… today, is the…

Click LINK 12 – CHURCH of the HOLY SEPULCHRE

This is the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. It is located in the Christian Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem. According to traditions dating back to the fourth century, it contains the two holiest sites in Christianity: the site of Calvary or Golgotha, and the tomb that belonged to Joseph of Arimathea which was supposedly be nearby.

Nailed to the Cross

As a prisoner, Jesus was stripped of His outer garments leaving just a loin cloth enough to cover Him. Then, He would have been roughly shoved down onto the cross. He would have winced as His bare torn back touched the rough surface of the cross. He braced himself with expectation as His arms were stretched out onto the cross beam. Strong calloused hands pinned His forearms down with his palms facing up. The executioners then simultaneously set the tips of nine inch iron spikes over the prisoners’ wrists. They then, simultaneously pounded those nails through his wrists, expertly missing the arteries with no bones broken. The pain would have been indescribable.

The executioners turned their attention to His feet. First, they tied His knees together. Then, they bent His legs a little to the left about a quarter of the way up. They rested His feet on an anchored triangle shaped wooden block. With one foot over another, they drove another long spike through, pinning them securely on the sloped block.

Just as He was bearing up to the pain of those spikes being driven into His skin, His own cross was lifted up and manhandled into position. The jarring effect brought even more excruciating pain bringing Him to tears and then blacked out.

[excerpt from His Voice from the Cross by JQuisumbing]

The Bible recorded Him giving 7 statements on the cross. For our purposes, we’ll focus on the two that best spoke of His character.

The Son of God spent almost 4 hours nailed to that cross but yet His voice reflected His heart – “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34)

At the end of His final hour on the cross, Jesus said, “It is finished.” [John 19:30] In Greek, it would say ‘tetelestai’. Jesus was declaring for all to know that the task He set out to do… that the reason of His birth… was completed! Our debt of SIN was paid for by His blood.

Then He died.

4 – The Resurrection

Click LINK 12a – EMPTY TOMB

You are standing under the big dome of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. When this part of the church was being built in the fourth century, the rock-slope that the empty tomb was under was mostly excavated. What was left was the chamber and it’s opening. Then, they built this shrine over the tomb.

The resurrection of Jesus from the dead has been at the heart of the gospel message from the beginning. Paul expressed what most believe to have been a creed of the early church.

For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. (1 Corinthians 15:3-5)

The empty tomb tells us that the grave could not hold Jesus. That He bodily rose from the grave. Jesus demonstrated his mastery over death and it holds promise for believers as well; that we also will have victory over death. And it’s all because the tomb of Jesus is empty. [www.christianity.com]

For I handed down to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. After that He appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters at one time… (1 Corinthians 15:3-6)

Two of those, Jesus appeared on the road to…

Click LINK 13 – EMMAUS

You are just outside the Benedictine monastery in Abu Ghosh (a.k.a. St Mary of the Resurrection Abbey). Who was St Mary? In Matthew 28:1, when Mary Magdalene went to see the empty tomb, she was accompanied by another woman also named Mary. Mary was a very common name among the Jews. It had been determined though that this particular Mary was none other than Mary the mother of James and Joses (Matthew 10:3 and Luke 6:15).

This monastery is about 7 miles from Jerusalem. By the way, there are 3 other sites that is being considered as Emmaus. Whichever is the true destination, what was significant was what happened on the road to Emmaus.

Two disciples, downcast by the death of Jesus, and confused by reports that His body was missing, were walking from Jerusalem to Emmaus. They encountered a stranger who listened to their concerns, then gave them a Scripture lesson that made their “hearts burn within them”. (Luke 24:32) That stranger was the risen Christ whom they failed to recognize. And He said to them…

“You foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to come into His glory?” Then beginning with Moses and with all the Prophets, He explained to them the things written about Himself in all the Scriptures. (24:25-27)

5 – Final Instructions

In John 14:19, Jesus told His disciples that the world no longer is going to see Him. What He meant was that He was going to return to His Father in Heaven. But first, instructions needed to be given. So, we head back north to…

Click LINK 14 – SEA OF GALILEE BEACH

You are standing on a beach at the northwest side of the Sea of Galilee. Behind is the Church of the Primacy of Saint Peter which is a Franciscan church located in Tabgha. Yes, we are very close to where Jesus fed 5000 men.

What was special about this place?

Look out at the water and go back in time about 2000 years. Peter and the other disciples went out fishing all night. It was almost morning and they hadn’t even caught a minnow. Suddenly, a man on the shore shouted to them to cast their nets on the right-hand side of the boat. Peter probably shrugged his shoulders but decided to do it anyway. To their surprise, the nets got heavy with fish. Then, John peered hard at the figure on the beach and his eyes went wide and he told Peter that the person was Jesus. Without hesitation, Peter jumped into the water and swam to the shore where Jesus had hot coals and fo0d waiting for them.

Now when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Tend My lambs.” He said to him again, a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Shepherd My sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” Peter was hurt because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Tend My sheep.” (John 21:15-17)

 Essentially, Jesus had reinstated Peter as chief among the Apostles.

Matthew 28:16 …the eleven disciples proceeded to Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had designated to them. 

That designated mountain is our next stop.

Click LINK 15 – MT ARBEL

You are virtually walking on a hiking trail on top of Mt Arbel. Elevation is about 594 feet above sea level. That body of water is the Sea of Galilee. Just below this mount is the town of Migdol once known as Magdala (home to Mary Magdalene).

It was here that Jesus gave the Great Commission to His Apostles… and as you read this now, this is your marching orders now.

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to follow all that I commanded you; and behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)

There is still one last mountain we have to climb.

6 – Ascension

Click LINK 16 – MOUNT of OLIVES

Welcome to one of the most visited sites on the Mount of Olives, the Chapel of the Ascension. It was here that eleven men got the best news, not just for themselves, but for all of us who believe.

Acts 1:6-8 And after Jesus had said these things… What things?

Well, the disciples asked Him, “Lord, is it at this time that You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?” Jesus told them, “It is not for you to know periods of time or appointed times which the Father has set by His own authority; but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and Samaria, and as far as the remotest part of the earth.”

After saying this, Jesus was lifted up while they were watching, and a cloud took Him up, out of their sight. 

And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was going, then behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them, and they said… “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:9-11)

Jesus Christ will return!

This ends our tour of Module 5a. Thank you for joining me in  Walking the footsteps of Jesus – Part 2.

Click here to go to MODULE 6: Trailing the Acts of the Holy Spirit



The Way of Kings & the Prophets

Module 4 – Google Maps Tour of the Bible by JQuisumbing

Welcome to Module 4. Here we will visit the Bible sites where God influenced the lives of the Kings and the Prophets that He sent to them during the Kingdom era. In Module 3, we ended the tour with God rejecting Saul as king and God secretly sending Samuel to choose David to replace him.

1 – Young David

When the anointing oil of Samuel touched upon the brow of David, the Spirit of the LORD rushed upon David from that day forward (1 Samuel 16:13) and through out his entire life, even when he faltered, David was always the apple of the Lord’s eye.

Keep me as the apple of the eye; Hide me in the shadow of Your wings… (Psalm 17:8)

And we will see this as we follow David’s life from one adventure after another. Starting at…

Click LINK 1 – VALLEY OF ELAH

You are looking at a 360 degree view of where a young David bravely confronted Goliath from Gath who stood over 8 feet tall.

Imagine if you will, the forces of King Saul gathered on the hill on the north side of the valley and the Philistine army were arrayed on the opposite hill. Then Goliath would come forward from the army encampment of the Philistines to mock the God of Israel and challenge the Israelites to send out their champion to fight him one on one. Everyday, the Israelites cowered and no one came to challenge him until David came to visit. And when he saw and heard Goliath insulting his God, David cried out…

“Who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he has dared to defy the armies of the living God?” (17:26)

With King Saul’s doubtful consent, David, with no armor and shield, armed with only a shepherd’s sling and five smooth stones, bravely went down to fight this giant. From the Philistine’s side, they expected a slaughter but were shocked to see their champion quickly brought down by a well aimed stone striking him between the eyes. When they witnessed Goliath’s head chopped off and the army of Israel charging their lines, they panicked and was defeated.

After David killed Goliath, Saul was compelled to place young David at the head of his army (I Samuel 18:5) and eventually became part of the household when David married his daughter Michal. David was successful in all that he did and so his fame rose with the peoples making this praises, “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands.” (18:7)

Not long after, an intense rivalry developed between David and the king. Saul began to try to have him killed.

2 – Saul Pursued David

So, David fled the presence of the king. After he and his handful of men received nourishment from the priests of a nearby village (21:1-6), he hurriedly left and went to a hidden stronghold. So now, we come to our next site…

Click LINK 2 – CAVE OF ADULLAM

The Cave of Adullam is located at the south end of the valley of Elah about 20 miles away from Saul’s palace at Gibeah.

It was there that David’s father and brothers joined him to also escape Saul’s rage. Not long after, everyone who was in distress, and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was discontented gathered to him; and he became captain over them. They numbered about four hundred men (22:1,2).

But Saul found out where David was, when he and his men went to rescue a nearby village that were harassed by marauding Philistines (23:1-5). So, David had to escape to another stronghold farther south which takes us to our next site.

Click LINK 3 – ROCK OF ESCAPE

You are virtually standing atop of Masada that scholars believed was the Rock of Escape mentioned in verse 28. But being found out where he was, Saul tried to trap him but he had to give up the pursuit to face a Philistine army threatening his borders. So, David had to move again to another stronghold…

Click LINK 4 – EN GEDI

En Gedi is the largest oasis along the western shore of the Dead Sea. It served as one of the main places of refuge for David as he fled from Saul (23:29). One time when David was fleeing from King Saul, the pursuers searched the “Crags of the Ibex” in the vicinity of En Gedi. In a cave near here, David refused to kill the Lord’s anointed but instead he just cut off the corner of Saul’s robe (24:1-7). This was not the only time that Saul’s life was spared. David hated the thought that as long as he was still within the kingdom, Saul would continue to go after him and maybe in one of those encounters, he would have no choice but to strike down the Lord’s anointed. So, he and his followers left Saul’s domain (1 Samuel 27,29).

Now, let us shift focus to King Saul for awhile…

3 – Last Days of King Saul

In 1 Samuel 28, the Philistines had come up to fight with Saul again and when Saul saw their camp, he was afraid and his heart trembled greatly. So Saul inquired of the LORD, but the LORD did not answer him. He was so desperate for guidance but Samuel the Prophet had passed away back in chapter 25. So, Saul secretly went to a medium/witch at the outskirts of En-dor.

Click LINK 5 – ENDOR

You are standing on highway 7276 (8 miles from Nazareth). The road to the right goes to the modern village of Ein Dor. If you look at the signs at the corner, one of them says ‘Archaeology’ indicating that this village may be the ancient site of where the only ghost story told in the Bible occurred.

When Saul (in disguise) came before the medium, he demanded the she summon the spirit of Samuel. She was startled when her conjuring suddenly worked and an apparition of an old man appeared like a god coming up out of the earth (28:13). Saul, seeing that it was Samuel, fell to the ground. When asked why he was called back, Saul shared his fears. The response he got back was not good news.

Saul was reminded that the LORD had left him and had become his enemy. The LORD has done just as he said he would. He had torn the kingdom from him. And on top of that, the LORD will hand him and the army of Israel over to the Philistines, and he and his sons will be dead. (28:16-19) Saul returned to his encampment like a condemned man.

This takes us to our next site.

Click LINK 6 – BETH SHAN

Beth Shan or Beit She’an (in Hebrew) is a city in the Northern District of Israel, which has played an important role in history due to its geographical location at the junction of the Jordan River Valley and the Jezreel Valley.

Five miles from Beth Shan, on the slopes of Mt Gilboa, the army of Saul clashed with the Philistines and they were badly defeated as prophesized. Wounded and seeing his sons killed, Saul purposely fell on his own sword. When the Philistines found the bodies of King Saul and his sons, they hung them on the walls of Beth Shan (31:10-12). 

But when the people of Jabesh-gilead heard what the Philistines had done to Saul, all their mighty warriors traveled through the night to Beth Shan and took the bodies of Saul and his sons down from the wall. They brought them to Jabesh, where they burned the bodies. Then they took their bones and buried them beneath the tamarisk tree at Jabesh, and they fasted for seven days (31:11-13).

After Saul died, David eventually became King of all Israel. And as his capital, he chose to rule in…

4 – JERUSALEM

Click LINK 7 – JERUSALEM

This is a 360 aerial view of Jerusalem today. It currently occupies an area of about 78 square miles and has a population of about 1 million. For the past 3000 years or so, this city had been destroyed and rebuilt countless times.

During the early days of David, it was known as Salem, the city of the Jebusites. A small remnant population of Canaanites that managed to keep their city from being conquered by the Israelites in Joshua’s time. Outlined below and shaded in yellow mark where the small city was located.

Google Earth image of modern-day Jerusalem
Jebusite City layout in yellow

According to 2 Samuel 5, David had laid siege on the Jebusite city which was fortified with high walls and situated on a mountain spur which made it practically difficult to capture. The Jebusites even bragged about it to David saying, “You shall not come in here, but even those who are blind and those who limp will turn you away” (5:6).

Click LINK 8 – JEBUSITE RUINS

You are standing on the observation platform that overlooks the archaeological site of the Millo (5:9) remnants of the original Jebusite ruins. Under the ruins was the well that tapped the underground Gihon Springs. It was through the well, that David’s men penetrated the Jebusite defenses (5:8) and captured the city.

David expanded the city and it became the City of David.

Google Earth image of modern-day Jerusalem
City of David layout in green

Click LINK 9 – CITY OF DAVID

Today, you can drive along on where the western wall of the City of David once stood. There is also a museum where you can go underground to view archaeological excavations of the old city.

[Click here -> Google Map Photos of City of David Museum]

Click LINK 9a – PALACE OF DAVID

You are standing on an observation platform on where tour guides would start their tour to an underground labyrinth of structures including Hezekiah’s Tunnel (a favorite for exploration). This platform is also over a part of David’s royal palace which makes it an ideal setting for a sad story of David’s SIN.

David’s royal chamber probably had a high vantage view of the city just like this observation platform. As you look down unto the houses below…

Story of David & Bathsheba [2 Samuel 11-12]

…imagine a bone tired king, home instead of being with his men in a military action against the sons of Ammon (11:1). It was Spring in Jerusalem. He had just eaten his dinner and was about to go to his bed, but that night, he was restless. He poured some wine for himself and wandered up unto the roof of his chamber. As he gazed around at the starlit valley below, his eye was attracted to a house below and there she was. Her name was Bathsheba.

Allow me to sum up what happened. David went from temptation to temptation to sin. The result was a pregnancy of woman who was someone else’s wife (11:3-5). David sent for the husband, Uriah the Hittite (one of his own men off at war) to return. He had hoped that Uriah would have relations with his wife, but out of a sense of loyalty he did not. Then David arranged that Uriah died in battle. After the mourning period, David took Bathsheba as his wife and a son was born to them. (11:6-27)

Then God sent Nathan the Prophet to David. After his rebuke, David repented greatly (Psalm 51). God forgave him (12:13) but he had to live with the circumstances of that sin. The son that was born to him & Bathsheba died (12:15-23); and then much later in his life, his other son Absalom took his throne and tried to kill him as well (chapter 15). But for David, the worst was that because of the blood he shed, the Lord denied him the privileged to build His Temple (1 Chronicles 28:3).

Click LINK 10 – DAVID on MT ZION

Mt Zion is the high hill opposite from the City of David across what was the Tyropoeon Valley. You are virtually standing before a sculpture of King David holding a lyre, an iconic symbol because of the many psalms that he wrote since he was a simple shepherd boy. A short distance north from here is the Tomb of David.

We say our good-byes to David here, but before we continue on, it is right to remember that though David faltered in his sin, the Lord helped him to amass such great wealth that it will be used to erect the first Temple which by the way was built by his son, Solomon, whose mother was also Bathsheba. And before he died, the Lord reiterated to him that his kingdom will go on forever.

5 – Solomon’s Temple

Solomon became king after David and with the help an old Phoenician allay and king, he expanded the city (below in blue). And on Mt Moriah, he erected the first Temple.

Google Earth image of modern-day Jerusalem
City of David layout in green
; Solomon’s expansion in blue; Temple complex in red

There was great fanfare when the Temple was finished. But when the Ark of the Covenant was placed in the innermost room called the Holy of Holies, the entire Temple was filled with God’s glory to a point that even the priests could not enter (1 King 8). I invite you to watch this 3 minute video of Solomon’s Temple in 3D.

6 – The Divided Kingdom

After Solomon died, his son, Rehoboam, became king. And in 1 King 12, due to an act of foolishness, Rehoboam lost the loyalty of the northern tribes and the kingdom was divided. Rehoboam ruled the southern kingdom of Judah with the tribe of Simeon who lived more in tents and were mostly nomadic. Jeroboam, an Ephraimite, became king of the 10 northern tribes of Israel.

The Lord allowed it for as long as ALL of Israel & Judah remained faithful to Him which meant that they still go to the center of worship at the Temple at Jerusalem. But Jeroboam, the king of Israel, feared losing his rule if his people continue to go to Jerusalem. So, he made 2 golden calves and declared, “behold your gods, Israel, that brought you up from the land of Egypt” (12:28). One idol, he set in Bethel. The other, he set at…

Click LINK 11 – DAN

Welcome to Tel-Dan!

Once, the tribe of Dan were situated in the south. They were suppose to push out the Philistines during the conquest era of Canaan, but failing that, the tribe moved to this area of the north.

Tel Dan is one of the most important sites in the ancient Near East, in general, and for biblical archaeology, in particular. Situated at the base of snow-capped Mount Hermon on the headwaters of the Jordan, Dan has major fortifications and what is apparently an Israelite temple from the Iron Age II (ca. 1000-700 BCE) where Jeroboam placed one of the golden calf idols. [www.teldanexcavations.com]

The steel beams you are looking at was where a massive four-horned altar once stood for the offering of animal sacrifices.

What Jeroboam had d0ne had set a precedent for all the kings of the northern kingdom. Nineteen kings ruled over Israel and all of them did evil in the eyes of the Lord. Eventually, the northern kingdom was overthrown by the Assyrian Empire then exiled. As to the southern kingdom, 19 kings & 1 queen ruled over Judah. A few of them did right in the Lord’s eyes, but most sent the kingdom on a downward spiral until it too was handed over to exile.

Now, the Lord God sought repentance from the kings and so, He would send men to them to be His mouth. They would either be their guide to redemption or a thorn on their sides. These men were known as…

7 – Prophets

From the divided kingdom era, one of the most famous prophets of the Bible, mentioned both in the Old and New Testaments, is Elijah. And when it comes to him, one place always come to mind.

Click LINK 12 – MT CARMEL

Mt Carmel is a coastal mountain range in northern Israel. Its name is derived from the Hebrew “Karem El” which means “vineyards of God.” You are standing on the observation deck of the Deir Al-Mukhraqa Carmelite Monastery. The vast valley before you is the Jezreel Valley which will be the future site of the prophetical-end-time battle of Armageddon.

‘High places’ were frequently considered to be sacred, and Mount Carmel was no exception. A high place of Mount Carmel was devoted to Yahweh during the Israelite monarchy, but it had fallen into disuse by the time of Ahab, king of northern kingdom of Israel, when it was devoted to Baal, a god of Phoenicia.

Carmel’s greatest claim to fame was the battle that took place there between the prophet Elijah and the 450 prophets of Baal, together with 400 prophets of Ashera, to decide which deity was more powerful. Underlying the contest was the question of why neither Baal nor Yahweh, both supposedly capable of producing rain, had not done so during a long period of intense drought (1 Kings 18). Here, the mountain, located in a kind of coastal no-man’s-land between Israel and Phoenicia, represented a strategic high ground where the Phoenician Baal and the Israelite Yahweh contended for superiority. After repairing the old altar of Yahweh, Elijah put the prophets of Baal to shame when he was able to produce fire from heaven to consume his sacrifice to Yahweh, while the prophets of Baal failed to produce fire from Baal to consume their offering.

Having proved his point spiritually, Elijah proceeded to a physical conquest as he ordered the assembled crowd of onlookers to slaughter the prophets of Baal in the valley below. He then prayed to the Lord to end the drought and a rain cloud appeared in response to his plea. [http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org]

Elijah’s whole story can be read from 1 Kings 15 to 2 Kings 2.

Now, Elijah had a protégé, who used to maintain a dwelling place here at Mt Carmel. His name was Elisha which means ‘My God is salvation‘. In the biblical narrative, after Elijah was taken up in a whirlwind, he gave Elisha a double portion of his power and he was accepted as the leader of the sons of the prophets (2 Kings 4).

Interestingly enough, though Elisha went on to perform twice as many miracles as Elijah, he seems to be the least thought of. And what is funny yet is that, compared to other Old Testament characters, Elisha’s miracles seem to be a precursor to Jesus’ own miracles. Oh sure, he may have not walked on water, but he did make an iron axe head float (6:6,7). For one particular miracle, I think we should go to…

Click LINK 13 – SHUNEM

You are on the north-end side of the modern day village of Sulam, but back in those days, this used to be the village of Shunem. Unfortunately, there were no archaeological site in the area. However, the houses of the neighborhood would be as posh as the prominent Shunemite woman’s house back then (2 Kings 4). She often invited Elisha to stay in her house during his ministry circuit of the area. This woman had no son and her husband was too old, so, he prophesied that she will give birth to a son next year, which she did. Then a few years later, the boy died. He prayed to the LORD. Then he got up on the bed and lay on the child, and put his mouth on his mouth, his eyes on his eyes, his hands on his hands, and he bent down on him; and the flesh of the child became warm. The boy came to life and returned to his mother (4:33-37).

So far, we talked about Elijah and Elisha. God had also sent other prophets like Amos and Hosea to minister in the Northern Kingdom, calling on the kings and the people to repent. At the same time, even the prophets of Judah like Isaiah and Micah, also warned the people of the Northern Kingdom of their coming destruction if they did not repent. But God also sent a prophet (a reluctant one anyway) to the enemies of Israel. His name was Jonah. To tell his story, let us go to…

Click LINK 14 – JOPPA

You are standing at the end of a jetty protecting the small harbor of Jaffa. During Jonah’s day, this coastal city was known as Joppa. Joppa is a very old city. You can see the contrast by its old world architecture to the ultra modern style of skyscrapers of Tel-Aviv on your far left.

Imagine yourself as Jonah on that jetty boarding on a ship bound for faraway Tarshish which was in Turkey. He was very jittery, knowing full well that he was doing wrong. You see, God had commanded him to go to Nineveh, the great city, and cry out against it, because their wickedness had come up before Him (Jonah 1:2). But Jonah feared what God had intended. The people of Nineveh was the enemy of His own people and if after he spoke to them that they repent their sins, he knew God will forgive them. So, he decided to run away from God. But he had a problem.

Psalm 139:7-10
Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.

God sent a storm and to make a long story short, Jonah ended up being in the belly of a fish for 3 days (1:4-17). After his prayer of repentance, out he came (2:1-10). He did go to Niniveh, and sure enough, after hearing him speak, the people repented. So, God forgave that generation and delayed the city’s inevitable destruction for another time (3:10). Meanwhile, God had a lesson for Jonah who went outside the city to… ahem… pout (4:1-5). At his camp, God caused a plant to grow quickly to give shade to his shelter but then it withered. At first, Jonah was overjoyed but when it died… then the Lord said…

“You had compassion on the plant, for which you did not work and which you did not cause to grow, which came up overnight and perished overnight. Should I not also have compassion on Nineveh, the great city in which there are more than 120,000 people, who do not know the difference between their right hand and their left, as well as many animals?” (4:10,11)

Even with the warnings of the prophets, both kingdoms fell. The northern kingdom was destroyed by the Assyrians and the population deported as per Assyrian military policy (resulting in the so-called Lost Ten Tribes of Israel). A hundred forty years later, as prophesied by Isaiah, Jeremiah and even Ezekiel who was already at exile, Judah fell to the Babylonians with their most influential citizens exiled to Babylon. Seventy five years later, exiles returned to Judah to rebuild.


8 – The Prophet for the ‘Kingdom Come

Within the message of the prophets, God had implanted… clues (so, to speak)… of the ultimate hope of a future kingdom for the faithful. Everyone of them put together points to the promised Messiah. One prophet, in particular, had written in his book some details that was not found in any of the other books of the Old Testament. Who was the prophet? Well, first, we go to…

Click LINK 15 – BABYLON

You are standing on the site of the ruins of ancient Babylon located by the Euphrates River 53 miles south of Baghdad, Iraq. Before you is the archaeological site of the city central. If you look west, on top of the hill, you’ll see one of Saddam Hussein’s abandoned palaces. It was probably built on top of the royal palace of Babylon’s kings. Turn again towards the south, you’ll see a replica city built for the tourists.

Why are we here? Well, on the first conquest of Judah by Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, a group of young noble Hebrews were brought here to be trained and then serve the kingdom. One of them was Daniel and like the patriarch, Joseph, he too gained a very high position in the government because the Lord had given him the ability to interpret the king’s dream. Through time, Daniel maintained a high position through three other kings and went through the transition from the kingdom of Babylon to the great Persian Empire.

Daniel’s prophecies

Beloved and chosen by God to foretell future events, Daniel prophesied through visions and dreams about what was going to happen throughout history, including what would happen to Daniel’s people in the ‘latter days’ (Daniel 10:14) and to the whole world.

In the repetition of the prophecy about human world-ruling empires, Daniel further noted: “I was watching in the night visions, and behold, One like the Son of Man, coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought Him near before Him. Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom the one which shall not be destroyed” (Daniel 7:13-14). He saw the Messiah.

In Daniel 9:24-27, we find a prophecy that predicted the year [A.D. 27] that the Messiah would begin His ministry. The prophecy also predicted his ministry to ‘confirm the covenant’ would be cut off ‘in the middle’ of the 70th prophetic week. The New Testament shows that this occurred after 3 1/2 years, just as Daniel had prophesied.

From Daniel’s prophecies, we get a peek of where we will go from here. We say goodbye to the sites of the Old Testament and end our tour of Module 4. The next step for you is…

Module 5 – Walking the footsteps of Jesus – Part 1where He went fishing with his disciples; gave the Sermon on the Mount and changed water into wine

Hope to see you there…


Are you new to the Bible?

If you are, then I would like to invite you to watch the 3 minute video below and learn what the entire Bible sum up to. Be enlightened and BELIEVE…

His Voice from the Cross #1

HIS INCREDIBLE PLEA
by J. Quisumbing

The prisoner’s back was on fire. More than an hour ago, he endured a scourging of 25-30 lashes. He lost count. The whip used was the cat o’ nine tails, an odious punishment tool made up of nine knotted thongs of leather with jagged pieces of metal and bones embedded in the strips. Each stroke was relentless especially when the one wielding it was so enraged because the prisoner made no noise above a moan.

His vision blurred again. By the taste of salt on his lips, he knew that more blood was profusely pouring down over his eyes from the puncture wounds on his scalp. Shutting his eyes tight and blinking a couple of times, his vision somewhat cleared. Looking ahead, he could just make out the infamous execution hill which he knew was north of the city about half a mile from the city gate. Some say that this hill looked like a half buried skull hence its name.

A little strength seem to be coming back to his bruised and cut up legs especially when the heavy burden that he was carrying on his already torn up shoulder was alleviated by the overseers. Earlier, they saw that the prisoner may not make it to execution hill because he was stumbling, falling and getting even weaker with every step he took. So, they stopped the procession, grabbed an unsuspecting spectator from amongst the crowd and forced him to carry the prisoner’s burden which was a roughly hewn cross.

The prisoner finally reached the crest of the hill. He was shoved to where the cross that he carried most of the way was laid out on the ground. Men in red tunics were busily preparing it. He turned his eyes towards a commotion on his left. Another prisoner was screaming out in pain as his hands and feet were impaled onto another cross. Hearing a grating sound to his right, he turned his head to watch another cross being erected, the bottom of which fell into a carved hole on the stony ground. It made a heavy thud sound causing the prisoner already nailed and hanging from it to scream out in agony.

He was then stripped of his outer garments leaving just a loin cloth to cover him. Then, he was roughly shoved down onto the cross. He winced as his bare torn back touched the rough surface of the cross. He braced himself with expectation as his arms were stretched out onto the cross beam. Strong calloused hands pinned his forearms down with his palms facing up. The executioners then simultaneously set the tips of nine inch iron spikes over the prisoners’ wrists. They then, simultaneously pounded those nails through his wrists, expertly missing the arteries with no bones broken. The pain was indescribable.

The executioners turned their attention to his feet. First, they tied his knees together. Then, they bent his legs a little to the left about a quarter of the way up. They rested his feet on an anchored triangle shaped wooden block. With one foot over another, they drove another long spike through, pinning them securely on the sloped block.

Just as he was bearing up to the pain of those spikes being driven into his skin, his own cross was lifted up and manhandled into position. The jarring effect brought even more excruciating pain bringing him to tears and then blacked out.

When he came to, he was gasping for air. He was not breathing properly. His chest felt compressed as he hung there with arms stretched up and his legs were limp. He realized that he can inhale but not exhale. He knew he had to put weight on his feet to exhale. But as he did so his torn back rubbed against the splintered wood, causing a constant stabbing into the open raw flesh. As painful as it was, he knew he had to do it regardless the pain he had to endure.

Then the taunts came.

From his high vantage point, he can see the north road busy with passersby going to and fro from the city. Most of them joined in with the mingling crowd that continued to hurl insults at him.

Someone in a rich robe shouted, “You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself!” Many laughed and shook their heads. Others mockingly called him the king of the Jews and that he should come off that cross to rule them. It went on and on, and even the condemned men left and right of him joined in. (Matthew 27)

Then another voice said, “Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!”

The prisoner recognized that voice. It was the same voice that tried to tempt him during his time of fasting in the wilderness some three years ago. He said, “If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.”

In his ear, he can hear that same tempter taunt him. “Son of God,” he would whisper, “You have at your command, legions of angels just waiting for you to give the order to destroy those that have done this against you. These creatures are not worthy of your love. See how they mock you. Elijah once asked God to send down fire upon his enemies who mocked him. You command the elements. Reveal your glory to them and watch them grovel in the ground and beg for forgiveness. Do you not see these people?”

He does see them. He looks down at the overseers laughing among themselves and callously gambling over his garment. He cannot get himself to hate them. Then, he scanned the crowd who continue to jeer at him. He saw their pettiness & shallowness; their angers & fears; their ignorance, their frailty & many faults. He also saw inside their hearts and he knew they were lost and hungry for a better life. He once told his disciples that what he saw in people was a flock without a shepherd. He saw each of them as created in God’s image. No, he could not condemn them. He knew that one day, the time of judgment will come, but not yet.

He peered up at the sky. The sky was clear but in the distance he could see angry clouds forming. He knew that his Holy Father was angry and rightly so.

The prisoner braced his legs and painfully lifted his body up. He breathed in, looked up to Heaven and said…

“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34)


Author’s Note:

Holy Week is just around the corner. Every Week until Resurection Sunday, I will post a story on the last words of this prisoner who hung on a rugged cross and paved a way for you and me who believe to everlasting life.

I really hope we can have a conversation. Please contact me here at Facebook MESSENGER by audio from 3-5pm Monday to Friday. Scheduled small group chats can be organized as well. Or send me a message HERE.

THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL – Ch24 – part 3

THE PROMISE OF LIFE – Site of the Tomb, Emmaus, Galilee

“Sir, I am not one to cast doubt, but some might say that all of this may have been staged.”

“I do not believe so, Cestus. However, it is important to have proof even if it is for posterity sake.”

“Sir, I suggest witnesses.”

“Ah yes, the guards… Where do you think they would have gone?”

“They dare not report back to barracks. That would mean instant execution for deserting their guard duty.”

“So, what do you think, Cestus?”

“I think, sir, they will run. And some will head South for Egypt.”

“Right! You take my horse and get some of our men. Go to En Gedi. I am certain they will go there first. Go capture them. We will go to Bethany. They will have news there.”

By the afternoon, they arrived at the house of Simon the leper. The old man was there with his son and two daughters.

Cornelius asked, “Is there news of the Lord?”

Old man Simon said, “Mostly rumors. However, we have a woman here who says she had seen and talked to him.”

The woman was Mary of Magdala. She was one of the women who helped bury Jesus. When she saw Cornelius, she smiled and said, “I have seen the Lord. He has risen!”

“I know Mary. Tell me all.”

The Sabbath was over. It was very early in the morning when Mary of Magdala, and another Mary, the mother of James, and Salome were bringing more spices to complete the burial process that was not finished because of the Sabbath. They were discussing on how they were going to roll the heavy cover stone when an abrupt earthquake shook the ground under them. Not long after, soldiers were frantically running past them. One was hysterically shouting that they saw ‘ghosts’. When they came upon the tomb, the stone was rolled far away. When they looked into the tomb, the body was gone. So, they panicked and went to where they knew some of the disciples were staying in the old city. It was Mary that told Peter and John. They in turn ran to the tomb themselves. When Mary returned to the tomb by herself. For awhile she wept out loud outside then she entered the tomb again and to her surprise, two men were there.

They asked her, “Woman, why are you weeping?”

She said to them, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.”

Then she heard a call. She turned around and saw another man standing there. She thought she recognized him but could not put her finger on it.

The man said, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?”

She wondered if he was the gardener. So, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have laid Him, and I will take Him away.”

Then he softly said to her, “Mary! Do you not know Me?”

As she looked closer, it was the face of Jesus as she remembered him but yet different. Mary then fell on her knees and hugged his legs, crying “Rabboni!”

Jesus said to her, “Stop clinging to Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I ascend to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God.’”

[Italics – John 20:11-17]

Then Jesus helped her to her feet, turned her and said, “Now, go Mary…”

When she turned around, he was gone. But she knew it was no dream. She went again to the disciples and told them what he told her. She went to every house of the Lord’s followers until she arrived here in Bethany.


The story continues on in my next post.

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THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL – Ch24 – part 2

THE PROMISE OF LIFE – Site of the Tomb, Emmaus, Galilee

The next day, the sun rose bright. The third day has come. Cornelius had no way of knowing exactly what to expect. And he was tired of waiting.

“Jacob, how is Trax?”

“He is still sad, I’m afraid, since you told us what happened two days ago. He really liked Jesus.”

“Well, maybe he would like to see him again. Come, I cannot wait any longer.”

Cestus commandeered a cart from the supply post while Cornelius rode his horse. He felt that they should go first to where Jesus was buried. When they got there, it was already the fourth hour since the rising of the sun. What Cornelius found was a hopeful mystery.

What they found was that the tomb site was bereft of soldiers with only their spears and shields scattered and left behind. The tomb itself was open with the heavy cover stone rolled away some twenty feet leaning against a tree.

Cestus came to him saying, “Sir, there is no sign of struggle or any violence. Not a drop of blood anywhere. These soldiers were not driven away by force. Something scared them away for them to abandon their post.”

Cornelius was examining the the entry way. “Look at this, Cestus,” he said, pointing at the bent ringed nails still on the wall with torn rope ends dangling. “Look at these two pins bent outward. This took a lot of force to roll that heavy stone up that sloped track, break the ropes, bend these two pins then roll twenty feet away.”

“Cornelius, what of the Master’s body?” asked Jacob still sitting on the cart with Trax looking confused.

Cornelius hesitated. “Everybody stay outside,” he said.

Then he bent himself to enter through the short entryway. It took just moments for his eyes to adjust to the darkness of the chamber. He looked towards the slab and was almost dismayed when he saw a shape. At first he thought it was Jesus’ body. At first, he thought the prophecy was false and everything was lunacy. But then he looked closer. What was on the slab was not a body but Jesus’ empty linen wrappings so hardened by the spice mixture that the linen still retained his body’s shape.

Cornelius could not help but shout for joy. He emerged from the tomb laughing and with tears running down his cheeks. “The tomb is empty! Jesus is alive!” He excitedly told them what he found.


The story continues on in my next post.

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THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL – Ch24 – part 1

THE PROMISE OF LIFE – Site of the Tomb, Emmaus, Galilee

Waiting has always been nerve wracking for Cornelius especially when he knows that something fantastic is going to happen on the third day. He has been staying at Emmaus since they buried him. After the Sabbath, he heard news from one of the disciples named Cleopas who lived in the village of Emmaus. Cleopas had some news for him. He told him that Judas Iscariot was dead. The story is that he hung himself but the branch which held him broke and his body fell into a ravine and burst open. Cornelius was sorry to hear this.

Other news was at the time of that incredible downpour and lightning storm, something incredible occurred at the Temple. The Veil, the thick curtain that separated the Most Holy Place from the other part of the Temple was torn from top to bottom. The High Priest and the other priests panicked into hysterics. Cornelius estimated that the Veil tearing occurred exactly at the same time Jesus died. In his mind, he knew the timing was no coincidence and also that this was no random event. No natural phenomenon could ever rip a three inch thick curtain from top to bottom. It was God who did it. The only question to consider is what does it mean? Something to talk about to Jacob on another time.

“I have word from Simon,” Cleopas said. “Those of us who scattered that night, have managed to get back together at the upper room where they had their last supper with him. Also Andrew and James found Peter at the banks of the Jordan not too far from Jericho. Simon said that the chief priests are still looking for them. But they have many friends who are willing to hide them. Simon said be wary of them. That is all there is.”

“Thank you, Cleopas. I was hungry for news.”

“Centurion? What is to become of us? We really thought he was the one.”

Cornelius sympathized with him. He would not know of the prophesy that Jesus will rise again. Jesus only revealed that to his closest companions.

“Have faith, Cleopas. Things have a way of turning good.”


The story continues on in my next post.

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THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL – Ch23 – part 6

THE HARDEST CHOICE – Golgotha

Then it started to rain heavy, like the heavens itself were weeping. But the downpour was short lived. The crowd had left, leaving the soldiers and a few of Jesus’ followers left behind.

After awhile Bragga came riding over with instructions to break the legs of the crucified so that they can die quickly and their bodies brought so as not to disturb Sabbath law.

Both prisoners howled in agony as their legs were broken. As the guards were about to break Jesus’ legs. Cornelius called a halt and told Bragga he was already dead. Bragga wanted to make sure, so he passed a spear to one of the soldiers and ordered him to pierce his side. As the soldier lunged the spear into Jesus’ side, blood and water spewed out like it was under pressure.

Not long after, a small wagon driven by Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea was coming up the hill. They had gotten Pilate’s permission to claim the body of Jesus for burial. As the soldiers took down the bodies of the dead thieves, Cornelius, Cestus, John and Joseph with some of the women first secure his body with long lengths of fabric tied on the cross. Then the men worked on prying off the nails that pinned his wrists and feet. When they finally got them off, they gently lowered his body to the women below who lovingly wrapped his body. His mother was in the wagon when brought his body was laid on her lap. She was in tears as she gently stroked his hair.

“My family’s tomb is nearby,” Joseph said. “We have to hurry for the Sabbath is almost upon us.”

The tomb was a carved out chamber of limestone. The opening was about four feet high and two and a half feet wide. There was a massive wheel of granite stone about five feet in diameter. It took three of them to force-ably roll it up a slanted carved track. While the men rolled the stone, the women extracted the crown of thorns and washed him. Then they rubbed his body with myrrh and aloes, then they wrapped him with linen. When that was done, they carried his body into the tomb and laid him on a stone slab. Then Mariam came in, kissed his forehead and covered his face with a cloth. Then the men rolled down the stone.

They were about to leave when eight auxiliary soldiers assigned to the chief priest march in. The squad leader reported to Cornelius being the ranking officer there. They were there to guard the tomb. Apparently, the chief priests went to Pilate and told him that Jesus’ followers might steal the body to fulfill a prophesy that he might come back to life on the third day. So, Cornelius helped them seal the tomb. They pounded four ringed nails into the wall around the stone. Then they strung the rope through the rings and criss crossed it on the stone and tied a very tight knot in the center. Then they applied a lot of melted red wax on the knot. Finally, Cornelius pressed the impression of his ring seal on the wax.

Then, the waiting starts.


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THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL – Ch23 – part 5

THE HARDEST CHOICE – Golgotha

Hours past and the sky starts to darken. Cornelius noticed a commotion at the trail that came to the top of execution hill. The guards were blocking the way of some women and a man. Then he recognized the mother of Jesus and John, the youngest of the Twelve, brother of James.

Cornelius approached them and ordered the soldier, “Let them pass. It’s the condemned man’s mother.”

As he guided them up, he whispered to John, “Where are the others doing?”

“Hiding, I believe.”

“Why is she here?”

“She insisted.”

John and Mariam came close to the cross. The other women held back and wept. It was such a strain on Mariam. Her legs weakened as she looked up at her son whose face was caked with dirt and blood, almost unrecognizable.

When Jesus then saw His mother, and John supporting her, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then He said to John, “Behold, your mother!” [John 19:26,27]

The sky became even more darker and in the distance thunder can be heard. The crowd was thinning out. By Cornelius’ reckoning, it was around the ninth hour.

Then Jesus’ chest spasmed up and he shouted, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?”

Some of the bystanders heard what he shouted and they wondered if it was Elijah he was calling. And if so, will Elijah come and save him?

Jesus then called out again, “Father, into Your hands I commit my spirit.” After he begged for a drink, he uttered one last time, “It is finished!”

The Praetorian centurion in charge was standing nearby as Cornelius went to confirm he was dead.

“He is dead,” Cornelius said.

“Certainly this man was innocent,” said the other centurion. “I was there when he was flogged. He made no sound, not even a whisper. I thought how brave he was but now, after watching all that had happened, truly this man was the son of the gods!”

Cornelius whispered to himself, “No… he was the Son of God.”


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THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL – Ch23 – part 4

THE HARDEST CHOICE – Golgotha

By the time Jesus reached the top of the hill, they already hung the two thieves who were wailing in pain. The executioners quickly took hold of him, stripped him down to his loin cloth and laid on the cross. Cornelius had to fight the urge to not drawing his weapon on them, but instead stood there stone-faced as they drove nails into his wrists. He expected him to scream in pain, but as they pounded on the nails all he did was quietly moan. Once his feet was nailed onto the post, it took eight men to maneuver the bottom of the cross to the hole on the ground and lift the cross on a standing position.

The north-road and the environs around the execution hill were filled with people. Many of them were the chief priests and their lackies. When a soldier climbed a ladder to mount a sign on Jesus’ cross that said ‘Here is Jesus, King of the Jews’, they protested loudly. They demanded that the sign be changed to ‘Here is Jesus who claims that I am King of the Jews.’

Cestus was quite disgusted about the festive mood of the passers-by and those who came to watch Jesus on a cross.

“Just last week, they hailed and welcomed him to the city. Now, they celebrate him hung on a cross. Disgusting!”

The chief priests and their lackies fed this festivities by continually hurling abuse at Him, wagging their heads, and saying, “Ha! You who are going to destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save Yourself, and come down from the cross!” Others were mocking Him among themselves and saying, “He saved others; He cannot save Himself. Let this Christ, the King of Israel, now come down from the cross, so that we may see and believe!” [Mark 15:29-32]

The people laughed.

The soldiers too were enjoying themselves by dividing up His garments among themselves, casting lots for them to decide what each man should take.

Then Cornelius heard Jesus speak as he called out, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” [Luke 23:34]

Cornelius’ heart broke to hear him who is in agony think kindly of those who are mocking him and even those who are killing him.

Even the thief who hung on Jesus’ left was mocking him, calling to save him from the cross. But then the other thief rebuked saying, “Do you not even fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed are suffering justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he looked at Jesus and said, “Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!”

Then Jesus weakly said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.” [Luke 23:40-43]


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THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL – Ch23 – part 3

THE HARDEST CHOICE – Golgotha

“Sir! There he is!”

Cornelius could just make out Jesus struggling with the heavy cross. Then his foot tripped and he stumbled to the ground with the weight of the cross pinning him down. For just a fraction of a second, Jesus’ eyes and his eyes met. And in that fraction, Cornelius realized that Jesus had seen him struggle. Cornelius made his choice.

“Sir! We have to attack now.”

“Stand down, Cestus. I now understand that this what Jesus want to happen.” Seeing the confusion in Cestus’ face, he said, “It will be hard to watch him die like this. But like Lazarus was brought back from death, God will resurrect him. We only have to believe and trust. Do you trust me, Cestus.”

“Always, sir. Always.”

“Thank you. Send the men back.”

Cornelius and Cestus pushed their way through the crowd to find one of the guards whipping Jesus to get up.

Cornelius shouted, “Stop!” He looked around and spotted a man built like a bull. He called the man over, “Name?”

“Simon of Cyrene, your honor.”

“Can you carry the cross for him?”

“Yes, your honor.”

Cestus helped Jesus to his feet as the big man from Cyrene picked up the cross and easily put it on his shoulder. Cornelius and Cestus helped Jesus walk the rest of the way.

Golgotha was a hill that was part of an abandoned quarry. It was about a quarter mile from the city wall. It was suppose to be another burial site for the rich but the Romans chose it as their execution hill because the North caravan road ran right next to it. It was known as Skull hill because from the perspective of the road the hill looked like a half buried skull.


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