Basketball - Holy Land, Coaches

  • Day Fourteen: Up From the Grave He Arose

    Section: Basketball

    Basketball - Holyland, Coaches

    Knowing that we will be walking Jesus' last steps is a sobering and humbling thought. The connections between His final hours and fulfillment of prophecy are stunning: He is crucified at 9:00 a.m., the same time as the morning sacrifice; He died at 3:00 p.m., the time of the second sacrifice. The message is clear: Jesus, the Son of God, endured the cross as the sacrificial lamb of the ages, for all eternity.

    The Church of the Holy Sepulcher commemorates the hill of crucifixion and the burial tomb of Christ. The church has been destroyed twice, and what is standing today dates from the time the Crusaders rebuilt it. First century tombs are preserved inside the church, called the Tomb of Joseph of Arimathea, after the wealthy Jew who provided the burial tomb for Christ.

    Even though the building itself was erected after Christ, there is an undeniable special aura that surrounds the space. Gorgeous paintings, intricate lamps, and sacred statues occupy nooks and niches throughout the church. In front of each, stand worshippers with heads bowed in humility and gratitude, paying homage to the life that was lived to perfection and sacrificed for our sin.

    Sitting outside a tomb similar to one that would have held the Savior, is a round stone resembling a wheel. It is this type of stone that would have covered Jesus' tomb. Our Rabbi reminds us that the stone wasn't rolled away to let Jesus out—no stone could have held back almighty God!

    No, the stone was rolled away to let us in. It was to allow the witnesses entrance to behold the power of God over the grave. They needed to see Him to believe.

    Have you seen Him? It is a sight beyond description. Coming to the Garden of the Tomb brings the sweet scent of His presence as a reminder of His victory and our victory in Jesus.

  • Day Thirteen: Pick Up Your Mat and Walk!

    Section: Basketball

    Pausing at the Via Dolorosa for the day (it is a Jewish holiday today, so some of the locations are closed), we begin our day at the Archaeological Park in Jerusalem. Here our Rabbi brings us our lesson amongst the rubble of rocks from the Second Temple, including a replica of a cornerstone that is so large historians to this day can't explain how it was moved into the Temple walls. As we listen intently, a Jewish bar mitzvah is being celebrated 50 feet from our outside classroom, underscoring the religious significance of our spot.

    After leaving the Archeological Park, we walked along the southern wall to the Southern Stairs of the Temple, which lead to the double Hulda gates. The Southern Stairs is where many historians now concur the miracle of Pentecost occurred. Since Pentecost is one of the three major festivals requiring attendance at the Temple, directly below the Southern Stairs are a large series of mikvahs, or ritual baths, where the Jews must cleanse themselves to make themselves pure for the temple. It is this water that scholars now believe was readily available to baptize the 3,000. Incredible!

    Finishing our faith lessons of the day at Bethesda, the place where Jesus healed the lame man because of his faith, our Rabbi gives the group opportunity to petition for prayers, asking us to speak out loud: "I want to be healed." The power of prayer brings the strength to "pick up our mats and walk", even after years of carrying paralyzing physical, mental and spiritual baggage. Standing in the sanctity of this space, we lift up prayers for dear friends around the world, comforted in the knowledge that our remembrance of them in this sacred spot will spread the blessing of our journey beyond just those who have shared in our weeks of hot, holy hikes.

    Take a few seconds with us in Bethesda, comforted in the delight of knowing what an awesome God we serve!

  • Day Twelve: Walking the Via Dolorosa

    Section: Basketball

    Today we begin walking the path of spine-tingling contrast: the bitterest road of sorrow and pain, ending in the most exhilarating, triumphant event in human history. It is no wonder that for many Christian pilgrims to Jerusalem, the Via Dolorosa (the "Way of Grief", "Way of Suffering", or "Painful Way") is the most significant, sacred portion of their time in the Old City, retracing the steps Jesus took carrying the cross to Golgotha

    Traditionally there are 14 "stations" along the route Jesus walked, marking significant moments in the sorrowful saga that have been recorded for the ages, most beginning with the Mount of Olives. With the throngs of bustling crowds all jostling for position, it can be difficult to transport your mind back to that somber time.

    But then, running your fingers over stones that have occupied their space for thousands of years, rocks that Jesus' sandals walked over, creates a sense of awe and wonder that overcomes the harried pace of today. Particularly when viewing an actual game board carved into the floor in the exact spot Roman soldiers cast lots for Jesus' garments, a chill comes over our group remembering the deep humiliation the Son of God endured, all for us.

    Finishing our faith lesson for the day, and before heading out to cheer on the ladies' teams in their next round of tournament play, we couldn't resist experiencing the vibrant, energetic shops that line the streets of the Old City.

    As we laugh and play and soak in the wonder of this once-in-a-lifetime experience, our joy overflows in the knowing that we walk the story today only because He first walked the Story for us, and we can claim our glory just because He lived, died and rose again, all for us.

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