Today was our last day of field study. I am a little sad. I’m ready to be home, but I am not ready to leave. Anyways, we began our day in the Old City, and made our way to the Catholic Church that commemorates the Upper Room. This building wasn’t as ornate as what I am used to seeing in the historic churches. There were still decorations common to the Catholic Church, but all in all it had a simple appearance. While in this room we read the passage on the Last Supper. While we read, Brian brought up the idea that Judas’ intentions were not necessarily evil. It is possible that he saw Jesus as the Messiah who was going to free the Jewish people from Roman rule. By turning him over to the priests, Judas may have thought that he was helping to expedite the process of the Messianic restoration. There is evidence for this in how Judas interacts at the Last Supper and also in his response to finding out that Jesus was going to be sentenced to death. This was very interesting and I am looking forward to wrestling with the idea for a while.
Anyways, after the Upper Room, we moved straight to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. This church commemorates Jesus’ death and burial. Tradition says that they have the bedrock where Jesus’ tomb was and the bedrock for the site of Golgotha. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to go into it, but I am looking forward to trying my luck tomorrow.
From here, we raced to the bus and made our way to Caesarea. We arrived at the remains of an aqueduct in Caesarea and had lunch on the beaches of the Mediterranean. It was absolutely beautiful. After this, we went to the ruins of the port city at Caesarea. The amount of history that this site has is absolutely amazing. From Herod the Great’s palatial harbor under Rome, to the Christian Byzantine port town, to the Islamic city, to a crusader fortress, back to an Islamic town. It is amazing! While the sites with the kurkar, marble and limestone structures were amazing; I took the most from the discussion, yet again. The passage that we looked at was Acts 10, where we find Cornelius, a God fearing Gentile, whose prayers and almsgiving had ascended before the Lord as a memorial. This presents the first set of interesting information. It was his giving to the poor and his prayers that pleased God, not his adherence to the Laws of Moses. As we continue reading, we come to the part where Peter has his visions of the unclean animals and the voice telling him to eat. However, we find the interpretation in scripture where Peter says that God told him not to call anyone unclean. This has to do with people, not food. Since this does not appear to be the dissolution of kosher laws, like I used to think, then this begs the question, “what should the Messianic Jews do with these laws under the New Covenant?” I really like the way Brian said it; some Messianic Jews would say that they now have the freedom in Christ to obey the Law more faithfully with the forgiveness of sin through Jesus. For us as Gentile Christian, this leads me to ask the question, “How ought we to best serve and obey God according to the Word He has given us?” I know that I will continue to wrestle with this question as I discern God’s Will for my life, but one thing I do know is that I am called to love; simple as that. Love my neighbor, the foreigner, my friends, my enemies, and my God.
This has been an experience of a lifetime. God has blessed me in this opportunity and I am truly looking forward to my return to Israel … the Holy Land.