It was April 1999. My mother and I traveled with a group of people going to Israel for an unforgettable trip. We had planned this trip for 3 yrs. It was an educational trip but it turned out to be much, much more. We had a guide named Dikko who was a walking encyclopedia of historical information. He lived in Israel as well as our bus driver.
Bethlehem, Jerusalem, Sea of Galilee, Dead Sea and Tel Aviv were few of the places we went to during this trip. We had hoped for my father to go along, however he died of cancer the previous year. Ruby Gregory was our travel agent who came along for her 3rd or 4th trip there. She was great and told us everything we needed to know about going.
Before we boarded the El Al airline filled with over 500 passengers, we were told to come 3 hrs. early for pre-flight check. We were 'grilled' by the Israeli plane security officers. They asked us numerous questions before boarding the flight. They opened all our bags and looked through each one of them at least 3 times. They did this for each of the over 500 people boarding the plane. This all happened before 9/11. Their security makes the U.S. airports look very lax in comparison even today. I gladly complied to everything and felt so safe.
Golgotha was very memorable to me and the group. The Garden Tomb where Jesus was supposedly buried is well taken care of by the British. British volunteers work there. It was free to visit the Garden Tomb in Jerusalem as well as Golgotha. Golgotha is called "the place of the skull". Our guide told us that Jesus supposedly was crucified at Golgotha. The Romans would crucify people there at the base of the mount, instead of the top of the hill. Because the Romans liked to instill fear among the people. At the time of the crucifixion, he said it was historically a busy marketplace. All of this made me realize that Jesus was crucified naked in a busy public area where the people passing by would be eye level to him as they walked by!
As we went inside the Garden Tomb, we saw a plaque on the wall saying: 'He Is Not Here For He Is Risen'. After that we sat at a table overlooking Golgotha and had communion there. There was not one dry eye in our group....
Few places have affected me as deeply as the Garden Tomb and Golgotha. It solidified our faith after spending time there in prayer.
As I painted this stylized backdrop of Golgotha for the Good Friday Play, I was reminded of the place where I visited and not to take so lightly the heavy price that was paid by Him. Yes, Friday is good because He is Risen!