I looked out my window on Palm Sunday wishing I could see all the way to Jerusalem.
Instead, I relied on my memory of a visit to the Holy Land and the daily news updates.
Easter has taken on a new, different and more personal meaning for me after that visit some years ago.
Just as a visit to Washington gives Americans a new understanding of our history, founding fathers, and governmental functions, a visit to Israel brings Jesus, the Bible and Christianity to reality.
It also puts the reality of the current conflict into focus.
Jerusalem is the historical capital city of Israel and the site of Temple worship; the place where the critical events of Passion Week and the resurrection occurred and the third most important religious site for Islam.
I walked the road from the Mount of Olives to the East Gate where Jesus entered the old city on that first Palm Sunday.
He rode into the city on a donkey colt in the tradition of the Jewish state.
David was the first king of Israel to enter Jerusalem on a colt.
The people cheered Him as the new King of Israel who would free them from Roman rule.
That made King Herod a bit nervous.
He was a puppet king ruling at the pleasure of the Romans.
A new king would not do Herod or the Romans any good.
The Israelites had been difficult to rule, clinging to their religion centered on the temple mount in King David's city.
Pilate was the local Roman ruler and always fearful during the Jewish Passover.
These stubborn Israelites would gather from all over the East on this important holiday.
Extra soldiers were there to keep the peace.
Jesus was a threat to both Herod and Pilate.
He spent the week prior to Passover throwing the moneychangers out of the temple, healing the sick and preaching a new idea.
The Jewish religious leaders were not happy either.
Humiliating and killing Jesus would put an end to all this nonsense.
Herod, Pilate and the Sanhedrin agreed on that!
No one thought this crazy holy man from Galilee was any more than the leader of another group of fanatics that thought they could defeat the armed forces of the Roman Empire.
The Romans totally destroyed Jerusalem 30 to 40 years after Jesus was crucified and killed all those Jews who had not yet fled the country.
After that destruction of the city in 70 A.D., Rome built a new city using the empire plans.
You always knew where the streets were in a Roman city because every city was built using the same plan.
The state of Israel did not appear again after 70 A.D.
until 1948 when the United Nations formed the current state to give Jews a place to settle after the horrors of WW II.
Islam appeared about 500 years later and dominated the region under the Ottoman Empire until after WW I.
In the meantime, followers of the resurrected Jesus spread the message around the world.
The world still argues about Jesus and His message.
Some still argue that he did not actually exist.
They may be the same ones still arguing that the world is flat and that the trip to the moon was faked in a Hollywood studio.
He changed the calendar so we measure years in the Western world from His birth.
Christians, Muslims and Jews share the same beginnings written in the Old Testament, Torah and Koran.
Each of the three religions sees Jesus as a different person, prophet or Son of God.
When I was in Israel, the official Israel guides quoted extensively from what I had read in the Old Testament.
It took careful listening to hear the subtle differences in comments.
"When the Messiah comes," was the Israel quote.
"When the Messiah returns," was the Christian version.
We did not have any Islam guides but did visit the mosque on the temple mount.
It sets in the same space where the Jewish temple was before the Romans destroyed the city.
Who was this holy man from Galilee, born in Bethlehem, raised in Nazareth and crucified in Jerusalem?
More than 2000 years after His birth, people all over the world will be looking for a personal answer to that question this Easter.
A visit to Israel answered most of my questions.
I hope each of you find a satisfying personal answer.
In the meantime, the world needs a solution to the killing in the Holy Land.
I think that would come sooner if each of us would recognize that the entire world helped create the situation as it stands.
The divided land where three religions originated had boundaries drawn by the countries of the world through the United Nations.
War broke out almost immediately in 1948.
Arab nations attacked Israel in 1948, 1967 and 1973 trying to undo what the United Nations did.
We, individually and as nations of the world, cannot wash our hands of the current situation.
Pilate tried that almost 2000 years ago.
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