This morning was the day of rest. We worshipped at Christ Church the first and oldest Protestant Church in Jerusalem. It was established by Michael Solomon Alexander, a Messianic believer whose heart God burdened to reach His chosen people for Christ. He arrived in Jerusalem the 1830’s and began looking for land to purchase. Through God’s intervention and the generosity of many British supporters, William Wilberforce was one, he acquired the present plot of land that now holds the church and guest house. The parish family is and has been a mix of Jewish and Gentile Christians and to honor each the church looks like a synagogue but also a church. You see in the stained glass in the sanctuary the tree is one that is grafted. The tree is Christ. One branch shows a menorah, the other a cross. Jew and Christian together in Christ.
Throughout years of political upheaval and turmoil one or the other, church or synagogue, saved it from being destroyed. Through that same turmoil the church was always part of a complex of ministries: hospital, school (for women and girls too!), and work training skills (masonry, carpentry, weaving, etc.) These ministries literally gave life to many people no matter their religion. However, those who came from a Jewish or Muslem background might find themselves ostracized if they sought help from Christ Church. Regardless, the mission of reaching out with the mercy and love of Christ pressed on. (You can read more of the history here: cmj-israel.org/christchurch/our history.)
After worship I quickly changed and walked across the street to the Tower of David Museum. Archaeologists continue to dig at this site that has revealed over 2,000 years of history possibly longer as they found remains from the first Temple era. That’s the temple of Solomon! Findings continue to support the idea that this was Herod’s Jerusalem palace. A mikveh and large swimming pool have been unearthed similar to the same at Masada. In a region where water is wealth, Herod liked to flaunt it in his pools, fountains, and mikveot. The last building I visited was like walking into a prison, which is what it was during the uprisings under British rule. A Zionist held in the prison etched a map of the city in the plastered wall and signed his name beneath it. He wanted all future generations to know that he had been held here by the British forces and record the city’s map from the time. As interesting as that was, I found greater interest in a plaque at the bottom of the stairs that took me back 2,000 years. At the bottom of those stairs lay the aqueduct for Herod’s water system. A courtyard may have been located adjacent to it and might be the site where Herod interrogated Jesus. Here below where other prisoners were held and interrogated, Jesus may have been held and interrogated. I say may have in that Herod’s palace covered at least the fortress area but may have extended beyond. I stood there alone, not a soul around me but the scene in my mind’s eye filled with King Herod and his court in luxurious array with every desire available at his command … and Jesus the One and Only King standing before him in humble robes with only one desire … to obey His Father and save his people. Such love. Such grace Jesus showed Herod. But Herod returned Him to Pilate.