It was a Friday and I think about the fourth day of the Walk Where Jesus Walked tour. After a morning spent touring the Old City of Jerusalem, walking the Via Dolorosa, and visiting the Church of Holy Sepulchre, we were given only moments to pray at the Western Wall.
At this point, a couple of friends and I inquired about the projected afternoon itinerary of the guided tour for the large group we were traveling with and we decided that we would meet up with them in the late afternoon at the Garden Tomb. I'm not a big fan of the "get back on the bus tours" to begin with and at this point my friends and I needed a break to explore the old city of Jerusalem with more independence.
This was initially a very good decision and we had a wonderful afternoon. We did some local shopping, had engaging conversation about security at the Western Wall with some IDF soldiers, had a lunch from a vendor cart from a second story courtyard overlooking the Western Wall, and we had totally lost track of the hour by the time we were making our way to the Upper Room. When we got there, there was a man who had just locked it up.
It was Friday and because of the Sabbath, the Upper Room closed to the public earlier than during the week. We were heart broken and we were also beginning to think that our few hours of independence had backfired and we were going to miss seeing one of the most important places on the tour -- the location of the Last Supper.
We talked to the maintenance man in charge of the location who had just locked the door and we offered to pay him a nice gratuity if he'd let us spend ten minutes in the Upper Room. I'm so very grateful he was open to this offer. He unlocked the door and let us in.
It was actually quite a good thing that we were late as we had the Upper Room all to ourselves. Just the four of us. I opened my Bible to the passages on the events of that Passover with Jesus and his apostles that took place in this very setting:
The room we were in was not furnished, but during the time Jesus was there, imagine that there would have been rugs and pillows on the floor and possibly a very low table. They would not have been seated at chairs (as is depicted in the Da Vinci painting) because it was Middle Eastern custom during this period to sit on the floor.
As I sat there in the Upper Room in Jerusalem, I couldn't help but think of this wonderful song by Cherri Keaggy, In Remembrance of Me, and I sang it (just as the apostles had sung a hymn, I sang a modern day praise and worship tune). The acoustics were phenomenal and the song couldn't have been more perfect for the setting. I found it on YouTube and hope you'll play it and see what I mean (below):
I had a very special time in a very special place, but here's what everyone really needs to know. The "real" Upper Room was destroyed by the Romans in the first century when they leveled Jerusalem. I often joke and say that my Walk Where Jesus Walked tour of Israel should have been called the Walk Where Jesus MIGHT HAVE Walked tour. But that's okay.
It is believed that the building where this Upper Room is located was built in the third or fourth century over the location of the original Upper Room and possibly even with stones from the ruins of that building. Regardless of its authenticity, it's a lovely place to come and, in some small way, imagine what that last Passover Seder might have been like for Jesus.
I love sharing about my travel experiences in the Holy Land on my Walk Where Jesus Walked tour because the Bible comes alive when you travel through Israel to places like the Garden of Gethsemane, the original steps of the Second Temple in Jerusalem, discovering the Eye of the Needle Gate, and even the Mount of the Beatitudes nestled next to the Sea of Galilee.
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