Jerusalem is an amazing city. She stands as a monument to thousands of years of history; every layer of stones telling their own story. The impact of walking down dark, damp stairs along the wall of the city of David to Hezekiah’s tunnel is almost sacred. If those stones could only talk! Experiencing the view of the city from the Mount of Olives is stunning because in that one panoramic landscape come to mind a flood of stories from Abraham to Paul. I always walk away quieted as I recognize the intense vastness of God’s narrative. My life continues that narrative and the humility of that is overwhelming.
Jerusalem is also a city of dichotomy. Three major world religions claim significance within her walls. The city is even divided into four quarters: Jewish, Muslim, Armenian, and Christian. If you’re at the right place at the right time, you can hear the bells ring from the churches, the call to prayer from the mosque and the blowing of the shofar for Sabbath or feast – all at the same time. There are sacred places literally everywhere for these three faiths. Religious holidays can fall at the same time (as we found out while there) and can create tension and inconvenience. All within one Old City of roughly one square kilometer!
While walking through the Old City one afternoon, it occurred to me how visible the atonement of Jesus is. Mount Moriah and the Wailing Wall (temple) are part of God’s Story, but I look across the Kedron and see the Garden of Gethsemane for the best part of the Story. The small winding streets all intersect the Way of the Cross at some point. The tomb of Jesus (either one) is in the middle of busy markets and streets. The hill of Golgotha is adjacent to a major bus center. How can so many people not see Jesus? How can they pass by Jesus’ Story every day and be oblivious to the evidence of His obvious gift? Why is Jesus so invisible?
Then I returned to Wichita and those thoughts continue. God’s Story and His activity among His people are not confined to a literal city. He now works within a framework of living stones. You and me. We are Jesus’ Story because he has redeemed us and indwells us. We pass by each other all the time, but are we seeing Jesus? In our homes, is he invisible? In our church worship? These thoughts can go as deep and far as we’ll let them; and for me, they are challenging. I found that it is much easier to question the residents of Jerusalem for their blindness than it is my own. The amazing truth is that Jesus is not represented by ancient places of history. He is represented by us. He is alive and well and I pray we will see him daily.