Why Is Jerusalem Important to Christians?

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Jerusalem is most significant to Christians because in their beliefs it is the location of Christ’s crucifixion, death and ultimate resurrection. It was also the site of other significant episodes of Jesus’ life. Additionally, the city is home to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, perhaps the most sacred place in the entire Christian world.

Apart from the events of his last days, Jesus spent other portions of his life inside the holy city, learning, preaching and performing miracles, according to Christian beliefs. As a young boy, for example, Jesus was found by his parents in front of the Temple, holding conversation with the scribes. Additionally, there is the narrative of his raging against the money lenders in the Temple later on, one of the only stories in the Christian Bible in which Jesus seems to demonstrate true anger.

However, it is nonetheless the events leading up to and including the Passion that are most important. In Luke 9:15, Scripture offers an example of the heavy fate with which Jesus ultimately associated the city, stating, “As the time approached when he was to be taken up to heaven, he set his face resolutely towards Jerusalem.” Scripture then tells of a glorious march into Jerusalem with his followers, an event many Christians celebrate as Palm Sunday just before Easter. Following this, Jesus is reported as conducting the Last Supper in Jerusalem before his arrest in the city’s Garden of Gethsemane. After his arrest, trial and scourging, Christian belief holds that Jesus was then brought to the hills called Golgatha (Calvary) outside the city and crucified. In the days before their master’s resurrection, Jesus’ disciples are said to have hid in fear inside Jerusalem, finally being inspired anew upon Jesus’ miraculous return. After Jesus’ rise and reported ascension into heaven, Christian sources say that his disciples performed their own first ministries in Jerusalem, and the city continued to be an important site of Christian leadership and martyrdom in the years to follow. Indeed, the first Christian martyr, St. Stephen, was stoned to death in Jerusalem. Finally, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is said to rest on the very spot where Christ was crucified, so it is an intensely important spot for Christian pilgrimage and meditation.