Archaeology and coming home

Down the wet steps and into history

In many ways, it’s past time to come home. Oh, Rebekah and I have been back in Florida over two weeks now, but I personally spent the last part of January still wandering Egypt, Jordan and Israel in my heart and mind. Today, February 1, for the first time since we returned, I find myself completely captured by the beauty and drama and need of this life, in this particular moment.

I’ll finish out the tour, like today’s pictures and references to the City of David, street-level Jerusalem circa 33-AD, and The Upper Room. But this morning my life is invested in the story of a dear friend whose child is dangerously lost, my brother’s medical tests, and preparation for an important speaking engagement this evening.

King David's palace and the Kidron valley

But isn’t that why Jesus came? Isn’t that why Jerusalem is such a great point of pilgrimage… because this is where God opened the portal between time and eternity and broke into the human experience so compellingly via the life, death and resurrection of Jesus?

It was raining at Gethsemane, and the rain continued to come down the day we traversed countless uneven steps, deep down into excavations that are revealing layer upon layer of history, core-samples of life one-thousand years before Christ.

Street level circa AD 19 - Jerusalem

RAIN: Rain happens. Life happens. Three-thousand years ago via the heroic and (more often) tragically human stories of David; two-thousand years ago in the context of street-level experiences Jesus had with ordinary people made extraordinary because they encountered the Living God; and today, where life slaps us in the face sometimes and Jesus is still here – because my friends, their son, my hurting brother, and the people I’m speaking to tonight are exactly the reason the Lord offered redemption and new life and the peace that is beyond understanding…

  • Ancient pathways

    We looked at rooms from the palace King David occupied when he ruled Israel (1040-970 BC).

  • We climbed through the amazing underground water system that sustained ancient Jerusalem and which was also used as an escape route.
  • We visited the Pool of Siloam, where Jesus opened the eyes of a blind man.
  • Coins (Bible times) in hands of archaeologist

    We talked with an archaeologist who still finds coins that date from and predate the time of Christ.

  • We walked on the street where Jesus turned over the money-changers’ tables – paving stones dating from Herod’s era of reconstruction.
  • We made our way – soaked and shivering – to the traditional site of The Upper Room.
  • And then we climbed into the prison complex beneath the palace of Caiaphas the High Priest. We know Jesus was held here. The place holds a powerful historical and spiritual gravitas.
At The Upper Room

UPPER ROOM: I’m especially interested in The Upper Room because that is the Nashville based ministry that publishes my writing. The structure of the location only dates back to Crusader times, but the idea of the place where Jesus met with his friends for the Last Supper sparks my imagination. It’s the setting for my newly released book, “Reaching Toward Easter.”

TIME TRAVEL: There are a thousand key scenes from the biblical narrative that people would move heaven and earth to attend if time-travel were a possibility. For me – given the chance – the choice would be hands down The Last Supper. To sit at table with Jesus; to listen to the Lord go over the highlights one last time; to ask him a question… or two….

The hole Jesus would have been lowered into at the "holding cell" at Caiaphas palace

Would I let Jesus wash my feet? Would I dare to look into the Master’s eyes and feel him gaze on my soul…?

Again, more questions here than answers – DEREK


  1. Derek, It’s kind of a tough admission for a follower of Christ, but frankly over the years, I have never felt any interest in visiting the Holy Land, even when talking to some friends who went there. Your blog of this trip, with scripture interspersed, has made all it all fascinating and inviting. I appreciate the tour enough though it was only a vicarious one. And then your eye for photography put it all over the top. Thanks


    • Thanks, Carl.
      Vicarious can be good…. BUT (and top-notch goalie’s like you understand this)… once in a while you have to venture out of your “six-yard box,” jump in the middle, get good an dirty, and own the experience for yourself.
      Peace – DEREK


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