Jerusalem: Christian

Tourist traps are anathema to me. I had never wanted to visit Jerusalem because of the envisioned legions of tourist buses crowding the historic sites. I was predisposed to look on cynically as thousands of Christians from all over the world come to the Old City of Jerusalem to “walk where Jesus walked.”

And thousands did come, carrying crosses down the Via Dolorosa (Top and middle photos) as they tried to empathize with Jesus as he carried His cross to Golgotha, the place of crucifixion. But tradition conflicts as to the exact location of His crucifixion and burial: The Church of the Holy Sepulchre (bottom photo) or the Garden Tomb. So some Christians go one way to worship and some another.

In my eyes, the holy was made mundane even as we sat in a cafe eating pizza and drinking mint lemonade. The enterprising waiter called out to those walking the Stations of the Cross on the Via Dolorosa, “Come eat pizza where Jesus ate pizza.” Other shop owners nearby hawked their Christian wares of crosses made of olive wood and intricately painted icons. But I suppose this is really nothing compared to hundreds of years ago when merchants promised the faithful a “real piece of the cross” for a fee.

Surprisingly, I was still moved by walking where Jesus walked. To be standing on the Temple Mount, Knowing that Jesus had visited the Temple as a child and adult…well…I was moved. I stood on the Mount of Olives where Jesus took in the magnificent view of the city and wept…and I was moved. I stood alone in the Garden Tomb that could have been where Jesus rose from the dead…and I was moved.

I want to go back, but still not on a tour bus.

(Canon 5D2, 24-105mm, 1/100 sec, f5.6, ISO400)

(Canon 5D2, 70-200mm @180mm , 1/640 sec, f2.8, ISO320)

(Canon 5D2, 35mm f1.4 , 1/200 sec, f1.4, ISO1250)

Photos ┬ęCopyright Gary S. Chapman 2010

9 thoughts

  1. Having been there myself I understand the angst of soul to some degree that you have felt. Little did the Pizza man know that Jesus was their, He was their by His Holy Spirit living in two followers who not only walked where Jesus walked but walked “as” Jesus walked. Impartstion of God’s Spirit does indeed come from a place; that place is before His throne room of Grace via the Cross, grave and resurrection of our Lord Jesus. May we all make a pilgrimage of humility to the foot of the cross and with empty hands and humble hearts recognize that He was put out of that same city that makes merchandise of where He walked rather than as He walked.

  2. Gary – I think your understanding of your Christian faith does affect what you can photograph as Christian in Jerusalem. It is sometimes hard to capture a relationship, even one that moves you.

    And your have convinced me that I need a 35/1.4 (or more 1.x primes in general).

  3. Gary, again a short but poignant post. My wife has been to Israel and really wants to take me with her if we can go together sometime – not on a bus tour either. My interest in history alone makes me interested in this trip but as a Roman Catholic, even a non-practicing one, I am sure I would be moved in the same way you were.

  4. Matthew…what we “are” affects everything we photograph. When shooting as a photojournalist I try to be unbiased, but it is impossible to be completely unmoved. And yep…the 35mm f1.4 is one of my favs. Thanks for posting.

  5. Wonderful pictures and even moreso your writing of the experience. I look forward to one day being moved, as you have articulated, when I visit Jerusalem.
    Love your work!

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