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Israel 2008 445It was an ancient city with people living ancient cultures.  The problems were enormous.  Political figures were greedy, power-hungry, egotistical and full of self-centered pride.

Entertainment at the expense of the people was rampant.  Hostility was waiting for any excuse to erupt.  Military incursions were a daily affair.

Good people were losing hope.  Power was in the hands of officials who bent the law to satisfy their personal agenda.  Anger and intimidation overpowered reason, righteousness and love.

The world had sunk to a level where authorities would murder children to cover their own infractions and advance their influence.  Might was the premier.  Yet, the immoral posture of those in power had massive doubt.

To ameliorate the uncertainty and unrest among the population, appeasement was common place.  Bargaining to keep the general population below their boiling point was a part of the “passing the buck” and shifting blame and destroying the truth with bribery and false testimony.  Was any hope to be found for the human race so long ago?

Hope sprang eternal with a single sacrifice.  One died on behalf of the many.  It was not just a volunteer who stepped forward.

Rather it was the only one who could be a substitute for all.  Even the very wicked were represented by the perfect sacrifice of love.  Jesus, the Christ, willingly gave Himself as a substitutionary death for all.

That is Good Friday.  An ignominious death so long ago has impacted the eternity of all forever and ever.  His one submissive act to have His blood shed gave all mankind hope through the amazing grace of God’s redemption.

Yes, that is a mouthful.  However, it was that magnificent.  It was such a phenomenal act of mercy that even the world’s worst had a chance to turn, repent and believe.

That is why Good Friday is good.  It was a horrible day because of the death of the only perfect One.  Yet, it was the best event for mankind in anticipation of the new life to come.

photo credit: brucefong photography

Israel 2014 IFL 244

Touring the Holy Land is a lot like trying to get a drink of water from a fire hydrant.  More is gushing by than you really have a chance to drink to quench your thirst.  But, we do what we can at the moment.

On tour number 4 a helpful injection of occasional pauses in the fast-paced tour were very helpful.  On our first day to the Holy City we stepped back from the Jerusalem Museum and the helpful model of the Ancient City.  We went up to a hill just opposite the City of David.

When our pilgrims disembarked and a few sites were pointed out to orient everyone to the view before us, we let everyone take some time.  It was deliberately planned for them to have personal time and reflect over what they were seeing and about to see.  This was no longer a model but the modern-day city with its storied past.

I sat on a large stone and scanned the view in front of me.  It was David’s City.  This outcropping reminds me of a bulge.

Some where in this landscape twelve disciples followed the Savior.  They knew that the foreboding of His death was the purpose of His journey, yet, they did not know how to respond to that knowledge.  Each day they tried to stay close to Him, weigh their hopes against the exposure to the fearful thought of Him being taken away from them.

Here Jesus was accosted by the legalisms of the religious leaders, the power of the Roman Empire and the sinful greed and pride of men.  The Savior loved them all.  In return He was insulted, victimized by slander, brutalized by gossip, conspired against by wicked men and eventually tortured and crucified.

But, God and only God can take the worst that man can offer and turn it into something that is eternally good.  Not only can the God of creation grow roses out of manure He can make eternal salvation for all men possible through the ignominy of His one and only Son’s death.  That all happened here in the scope of this portrait of the City.

I was here when it happened.  Represented by the mysterious seed of Adam and a beneficiary of the Sovereign plan of the Almighty my eternity was altered dramatically because of an act of God so long ago.  Sitting on an ancient stone and viewing this magnificent city those are the valuable moments in my mind.

photo credit: brucefong photography


Israel 2014 IFL 341

I’m forgiven because You were forsaken,
I’m accepted, You were condemned.
I am alive and well, Your sprit is within me,
Because You died and rose again.

Amazing love,
How can it be?
That You, my King would die for me?
Amazing love,
I know it’s true.
It’s my joy to honor You,
In all I do, I honor You.

Israel 2014 IFL 336

photo credit: brucefong photography

the Garden, where Jesus prayed before He was crucified for our sins

33 At the sixth hour darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour. 34 And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice,

“Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?”

—which means,

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

35 When some of those standing near heard this, they said,

“Listen, he’s calling Elijah.”

36 One man ran, filled a sponge with wine vinegar, put it on a stick, and offered it to Jesus to drink.

“Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to take him down,”

he said.

37 With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last. 38 The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. 39 And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, heard his cry and saw how he died, he said,

“Surely this man was the Son of God!”

Mark 15.33-39 NIV84
narrative arrangement by Bruce Fong