The Via Dolorosa—and the True Way of Suffering

Looking Beyond Tradition to the Historical Path Jesus Walked

It happens most times I’m in Jerusalem. I hear the question. “You’re telling me this isn’t the true Via Dolorosa, the “Way of Suffering” Jesus walked with His cross from Pilate’s Praetorium to Calvary? Then where is it?” 

The Via Dolorosa—and the True Way of Suffering Jesus Walked

(Photo: The Ecce Homo arch spans the Via Dolorosa. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

The Via Dolorosa of today marks an exercise in faith more than fact, and its stops or “stations” reflect Catholic tradition more than history. Popularized by Sandi Patti’s hit song in 1991, the Via Dolorosa also attracts the veneration of Protestant pilgrims who journey to Jerusalem.

There’s just one problem. The true path to the cross was in a completely different place.

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How God’s Light Can Help You in Surprising Ways

When you don't know what to do next, do this.

Imagine your life without light. No corrective lenses would help. Without light, even 20/20 eyes see nothing. Why? Your ability to see comes from a source completely outside of yourself. Without light, you have no sight.

How God's Light Can Help You in Surprising Ways

(Photo courtesy of Unsplash)

So often life feels like we’re groping in the dark for answers. How do we know which way to go? How do we find answers to our questions? That’s why David writes:

The Lord is my light and my salvation. Whom shall I fear? —Psalm 27:1

The Lord illumines what otherwise would remain hidden in darkness. But there’s a problem. We need more than direction and even more than answers.

So God’s light gives us another essential help.

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How God Uses Geography to Shape Your Life

He takes us places to gain what we could get nowhere else.

Think of the places most significant to you. That’s right, the places.  What makes them so special? Most likely, it’s not the places themselves but the events that took place there.

How God Uses Geography to Shape Our Lives

(Photo: Sunset over the Sea of Galilee. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

In our lives, events make places significant because of memories. But in biblical times, it was often just the opposite. The place itself often played a major role in causing a significant event.

The lands of the Bible offer more than a mere backdrop for the stories of the Bible. These places played an integral role in shaping the lives of those who lived there. God designed it so. And for us, understanding how the land shaped its people gives us tremendous insight into understanding Scripture.

Even more, it gives us a glimpse as to how God uses even geography in our lives today.

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Touring the Holy Landfill and its Surprising Helpful Lessons

Why we can never allow the ho-hum to replace the holy

Sometimes we confuse the holy for the common. Tourism proves it. What sites does your hometown or nearby big city offer tourists? Let me guess. Nobody comes to your city to see the local landfill.

Silwan, Iron Age tombs with trash

(Photo: Silwan, Iron Age tombs with trash. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

In San Antonio (where I grew up), the Alamo and Riverwalk still draw a crowd. In Dallas (near where I live now), Dealey Plaza ranks near the top. But the garbage dump never ranks high on “Things to See” (or smell) for any city.

Except perhaps Jerusalem.

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How to Avoid High Places if You’re Looking for God

We need one thing more than anything in our spiritual climb.

You started strong. Determination and strength came easily. You reach a summit in your day (or Christian life)—only to find life in high places has let you down.

Mount Tabor

(Photo: Mount Tabor. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

We followed the rules. We stayed in line. We walked the straight and narrow. So what happened?

The path we followed led to a false summit. A huge distraction. 

It happens when we forget this one thing.

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The Passion Week Shows What Jesus is Looking for in Your Life

What Jesus wants to find when He looks at our lives.

Sometimes what you expect is not what you get. You come to a situation that promises one thing, but you find another altogether. Monday of Passion Week proved that way for Jesus.

Fig tree in Israel

(Photo: Fig tree in Israel. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

After His Triumphal Entry on the colt, Jesus entered the Temple area in Jerusalem and found the Court of the Gentiles—the area for Gentiles to worship God—filled with markets and moneychangers.

The next day, Monday, Jesus returned to Jerusalem along the same road He had traveled before. He saw a fig tree in leaf, which typically indicated that it would have unripe figs to eat. But the tree offered only leaves.

No fruit for breakfast. So Jesus cursed the tree. His disciples heard Him.

We should hear Him too.

Jesus’ words indicate what He is looking for in our lives.

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Whenever I visit the holocaust museum in Jerusalem I like walking down the “Row of Righteous Gentiles.” It’s a great reminder of the one thing we need in order for God to use us.

This quick video will tell you what it is.

Tell me what you think: What are some reasons you struggle to let God use you? To leave a comment, just click here.

I walked by the Church of the Primacy of Peter yesterday—beside the Sea of Galilee—one of my favorite places in all Israel. Why so special? Because here Jesus said something to Peter we all need to hear when we’ve blown it. Watch the video. 

Tell me what you think: What encourages you most when you blow it? To leave a comment, just click here.

Beersheba—The Last Stop and a Point of Beginning

What God told Jacob there also applies to you.

If you have a twinge of fear to follow God’s leading, you’re not alone. After all, your future is clear only to Him—and He is good at keeping secrets. At Beersheba, Jacob had this struggle. What God told him also applies to you.

3 Sites by Beersheba You Seldom See—Arad, Besor, and Aroer

(Photo: Beersheba tell from east. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Beersheba epitomizes the faith God required to live in the Holy Land. Standing in the arid winds of Tel Beersheba, the truth seems both overwhelming and irresistible.

God used this unassuming, barren place to shape some of the most significant lives in the Bible.

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Salem—The Surprising Lesson We Learn From Abraham’s Visit to Jerusalem

What motivates you to give your best to God?

What motivates you to give your best to God? When Abraham came to Jerusalem, he gave his best to a king who was God’s priest. This may have laid the groundwork for when Abraham gave his very, very best to God. 

Salem—What We Can Learn From Abraham's Visit to Jerusalem

(Photo: City of David with Middle Bronze and Iron Age walls. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

We usually associate Abraham with Jerusalem in connection with the binding of Isaac—Abraham’s heroic willingness to sacrifice his son in the region of Moriah—today’s Temple Mount (Gen. 22:2; 2 Chron. 3:1).

But Abraham had come to Jerusalem (Salem) many years earlier. His visit there gives us more than a peek at early Jerusalem.

It gives us a lesson worth pondering.

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