Lesson 21: What Happened At The Southern Steps?

Neil Armstrong was the first man to walk on the moon, yet he said that walking on the southern steps of the Temple Mount was even more exciting.  Why?  To find out, take a look at this short video below, then read on to learn how you can have exciting moments like this every day.

So what happened at the southern steps?  That’s where Jesus walked.

When Neil Armstrong visited Israel in 1994, he asked his host if there was a place where Jesus would have walked—without a doubt—2,000 years ago.  His host, Archaeologist Meir Ben Dov and the excavator of the Temple Mount and southern walls in Jerusalem,  answered that the southern steps were, for sure, the steps that Jesus would have used when He walked up to the Temple.

Mr. Armstrong bent down and kissed the ground, saying that this was an even more exciting moment for him than walking on the moon.  If you were to go to Israel today and wanted to walk where you knew Jesus would have walked, you would go to the southern steps.

That’s because the southern steps, which have been excavated in recent years, served as the main entrance to the entire Temple Mount complex.  And we know from Scripture that Jesus went to the Temple several times throughout His life.  The Temple itself has since been destroyed, and the Temple Courts are buried under years of civilization and rebuilding.  But the southern steps can still be walked upon today.

The Bible says that Jesus first visited the Temple as a child, when Mary and Joseph brought Him here to be consecrated to the Lord (see Luke 2:21-40). The family then came back to Jerusalem year after year, as was their custom, for the yearly Feast of the Passover (Luke 2:41).

It was on one of these trips that Mary and Joseph lost Jesus as they were traveling back home, thinking that He was traveling back with relatives or friends.  After searching for Him for three days, they finally found Him, back in Jerusalem in the Temple Courts.  He was sitting among the teachers, listening to them, and asking them questions.  Upon hearing that His parents had been anxiously searching for Him, Jesus replied:

“Why were you searching for me?  Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” (Luke 2:49).

Then as an adult, Jesus often taught crowds of people there at the Temple Courts.  The Bible says that during the final week of His life:

“Each day Jesus was teaching at the Temple, and each evening He went out to spend the night on the hill called the Mount of Olives, and all the people came early in the morning to hear Him at the Temple.” (Luke 21:37-38).

If just walking where Jesus walked sounds exciting—like it was to Neil Armstrong—imagine what it would have been like to hear Him speak!  Imagine being there in person, back in 33 A.D., and listening to the words that Jesus spoke, coming from His own mouth!

Imagine hearing Jesus tell some of His parables for the very first time, right there in the Temple Courts:  the parable of the two sons, or of the ungrateful tenants, or of the wedding banquet of a king.

Imagine Jesus answering people’s questions, whether honest and practical questions, or those that were asked by people in order to trap Him, with words that astonished all who heard them and silenced His critics.

Imagine hearing Jesus answer the question about whether or not it was right to pay taxes to Caesar, and then hearing Jesus ask you to take out a coin with Caesar’s image on it and saying:

“Give to Caesar’s what is Caesar’s, and give to God what is God’s” (Matthew 22:21).

Or imagine Him answering the question about the resurrection of the dead, and whether or not people would really live again after they died, and hearing Jesus say:

“Have you not read what God said to you, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead but of the living” (Matthew 22:31b-32).

Or imagine Jesus being asked what He thought was the greatest commandment in the law, and hearing Jesus say for the first time:

“ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’ “ (Matthew 22:37-38).

Or imagine watching, along with Jesus, as a poor widow passed in front of you and put two very small coins into the Temple offering, and hearing Jesus say:

“I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on”  (Luke 21:2-4).

All of these things took place at the Temple Courts.  No wonder the Bible says that all those who heard Jesus speak there—even when He was just twelve—were “…amazed at His understanding and His answers” (Luke 2:47).

No wonder the Bible says that the crowds who heard Jesus speak at the Temple Courts as an adult were “…astonished at His teaching” (Matthew 22:33b).

No wonder the Bible says that when He spoke during the feast that “…all the people came early in the morning to hear Him at the Temple” (Luke 21:38).

Maybe you wish you could have been one of those people who got up early in the morning to hear the wisdom of Jesus.  The truth is, you can be one of those people!

If you’d like to sit at the feet of Jesus and listen to Him speak His words to you, words that are practical and words that answer the honest questions on your heart, you can still do it today.  You can pick up a copy of the Bible and read the words of Jesus, as recorded in the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, recorded by people who heard Him speak those words in person—Matthew, Mark and John—and Luke, who personally and thoroughly researched the stories by asking eyewitnesses who heard Jesus speak to verify their authenticity, people who were still living at the time he wrote his book.  Some of you may even have “red-letter Bibles,” where the words of Jesus are highlighted in red so that you can find them easier, underscoring the words of this master teacher that were spoken 2,000 years ago.

Thankfully, the words that Jesus spoke back then are just as applicable to our lives today.  Jesus isn’t a teacher who is now dead and silent.  He’s just as alive and eager to speak to you today as He was back then.  As the Bible says:

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).

What a blessing it is to be able to walk where Jesus walked, as Neil Armstrong did, and what a blessing it would have been to hear Him teach in person at the Temple Courts.  But what a blessing it is that we can still come to Him every day, whether early in the morning, throughout the day, or late in the day, and hear the wisdom of God as spoken through Jesus Christ Himself.

Come to Christ again today—and every day—and let Him speak His words of life  to you.

Let’s pray:

Father, thank You for sending Jesus to speak to the crowds at the Temple, and thank You for those who recorded His words so we can continue to hear Him speak to us today.  Open our hearts to hear those words as we come to You again today and every day.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

You're reading ISRAEL: LESSONS FROM THE HOLY LAND, by Eric Elder, featuring thirty inspiring devotionals based on the land where Jesus walked. Also available in paperback and eBook formats in our bookstore for a donation of any size!

You’re reading ISRAEL: LESSONS FROM THE HOLY LAND, by Eric Elder, featuring thirty inspiring devotionals based on the land where Jesus walked. Also available in paperback and eBook formats in our bookstore for a donation of any size!

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