When my daughter was little, I rocked her to sleep every night and sang the same song: “Jesus, There Is Something About That Name.” One line in the song says, “Kings and kingdoms shall all pass away, but there is something about that name.” My daughter is now grown and the mother of three. Sometimes she sings that same song to my grandchildren.
My wife and I just returned from Israel, a trip we chose to launch our 50th year of marriage. We spent several days in Jerusalem, walking through the Garden of Gethsemane, looking on the Holy City from the Mount of Olives, visiting the Pool of Siloam and the Western Wall. We sat on the southern steps to the temple and walked the Via Dolorosa.
Everywhere we went we were shoulder to shoulder with tourists from all over the world, tourists who had come to walk where Jesus walked. We met a young man from New Zealand, another from Colombia, entire groups from Indonesia, China and Korea. They came from Africa, South America and Europe. They were Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant, nondenominational. They came from everywhere. Tour buses lined up on the streets of the city, despite the political tensions reported in the news. They came because “there is something about that name.”
We visited the Transjordan site, just above the Dead Sea, the most likely place where Jesus was baptized by John. A barbed wire fence runs down the middle of the Jordan River separating Israel from Jordan. Armed guards are visible. On the other side of the river, beyond the barbed-wire fence, a group of Orthodox believers were baptizing, joyfully and with passion. Separated by politics and boundaries, we could not speak to them or touch them, but, like us, they were drawn to that site because Jesus was there.
In Jerusalem, most of the actual places where Jesus walked are buried beneath many layers. The temple of his day, built by Herod, was destroyed in 70 AD. Only the supporting walls remained, including the western wall where hundreds gather to pray every day.
In the second century, the Roman Emperor Hadrian rebuilt Jerusalem as a pagan city with a temple to Jupiter. After 325, Emperor Constantine rebuilt the city as a Christian center. Islamic rulers conquered the city in 638, the Crusaders in 1099. It was conquered by Saladin in 1187. Its walls were destroyed in 1219 then repaired in 1243. It was taken over by the Ottoman Empire in 1517. Jerusalem has been conquered, destroyed and rebuilt numerous times.
When Neil Armstrong visited Israel following his landing on the moon, he walked up the steps to the Temple entrance. He asked his guide, archaeologist Meir Ben Dov, if these were the same steps Jesus walked on. Ben Dov confirmed that they were. “I have to tell you,” Armstrong said, “I am more excited stepping on these stones than I was stepping on the moon.”
The very stones of the city, with the numerous archaeological digs, bear witness to history. Kings and kingdoms have come and gone. But the name of Jesus remains. Two-thousand years after Jesus first walked the streets of Jerusalem, His name continues to transform people of every language, culture and nation who trust in Him.