Thursday, April 28, 2011
Upper Room, Last Week
This was quite a day. It was the first day of a two day field trip in which we try to trace the events of the last week of the Savior’s life. We first went to Bethany. BJ and Tashara came with the students and I. There we looked at the church built to commemorate the events there, Lazarus’ tomb, and the supposed remains of Simon the Leper’s house. This place is so important not only because when Jesus raised Lazarus it was the last straw, and that made it so that the plans to kill him really started to move forward, but also because he stayed there during the last week of his life. He was anointed there in Simon’s house by Mary. He traveled from there each night. I think we were all touched by how much the Savior did for us.
I loved being there with our students. They are so great. I was happy to make good on a year old promise. Last year a girl named Bethany visited my class to tell me that she was coming to Jerusalem. I told her that if she did I would take her to Bethany. It was great to be with that girl, whom I didn’t know then but know and love now, in Bethany.
After Bethany we went to Bethphage. It was not as big a deal this time to go there, we had been there the day before with the students on the Palm Sunday march. But we spent some nice time there, talking about what Jesus did on that last week. From there we went to Pater Noster and went to the cave to talk about the teachings that supposedly took place in that cave. So deep and meaningful.
Then we went to Dominus Flevit. We happened to overlap with my family there. We went through his crying over Jerusalem, what that meant, what he prophesied, etc. Beautiful moments. Then we had lunch at the Orson Hyde Garden. After lunch we spoke of the dedication of the land by Orson Hyde, and also about other sacred events on the Mount of Olives. Wonderful stuff.
From there we went to the Dormition Abbey. For me it fits so well to go there. We are right there, and Mary was at the Savior’s side at the end, she finally had the sword go through her own heart. The women in the Savior’s life are so prominent there at the end, it seems to me that it is worth some time to honor the women who were so faithful to the Savior.
Then we went to the Upper Room. We went over many things there, especially how much Jesus loves his disciples then and us now. We spoke of how he invites us all to join him in his relationship with the Father. It is a touching moment to talk about that there. From there we went to St. Peter Gallicantu. I am not very convinced by the arguments that place Caiphus’ palace elsewhere. This place is, in my view, more likely than those other places. I don’t know if it is the right place, but it seems very possible. And the stairs there I believe are very likely stairs that the Savior ascended in bonds as he was taken from Gethsemene. It struck me as so ironic that the high priest, who was supposed to represent Jehovah, smote and mocked and unfairly condemned Jehovah. As we looked at those stairs I was so moved, so deeply touched. I could picture my Redeemer, he who could have called down legions of angels, willingly going up those stairs in bonds, going like a lamb to the slaughter, volunteering to go through all that he knew lay ahead. I was overcome with gratitude and certainty.
I sent the students home, and stayed to take my family through the same place. I think they were also deeply moved and touched. It was a great time and a great moment. How blessed we are.
That night we replicated an ancient triclinium, and talked about the Last Supper in the Upper Auditorium with the Passover Meal set below us. It was Passover that night, it was the right time. The weight of the moment was incredible. The meaning was powerful. The events seemed supernal. It doesn’t get any better than that.