April 4, 2012
Touring the ruins of Ephesus
Our weather has been perfect! Cool mornings, but warm days with lots of sun and great pictures. Today we visited the ancient city of Ephesus. The Apostle Paul spent time here on both his second and third missionary journeys, and it is said to be probably the best preserved ancient ruins in the world. Ephesus was a capital of trade and commerce in the first century, and was probably the second largest city in the Roman empire after Rome itself. We jumped off the boat and onto our tour bus for our first stop “Mary’s House”. Although there is good evidence that Mary did indeed live in Ephesus after the crucifixion of Jesus, only tradition has placed her home on the hill above the city. The house is more of a “shrine” than anything else, but it was interesting nevertheless.
The library of Celsus
Our guide then took us through the ruins of Ephesus. The only way to understand the scale of the city is to walk through it’s streets. One can only imagine the luxury and majesty of what was once one of the regions largest cities. Apparently, several factors lead to the downfall of this costal seaport 1) the harbor began silting up, this lead to marshy land, which lead to 2) mosquitos and malaria, and finally 3) an earthquake destroyed many of the majestic buildings. At the end of our tour we gathered at the 24,000 seat stadium where Mr. Liverance shared some facts about Ephesus, and the spiritual warning given to the Ephesian church in the book of Revelation. As Christians, we are never to be found to have lost our first love!
Learning about Ephesus
After a few minutes of shopping, we were back on the boat and headed to Patmos. Patmos is perhaps best known for the place where the Apostle John was exiled by the Roman emperor Domitius. It was here, in a cave on the side of the mountain, that God revealed himself to John and told him what to write to each of the seven churches of Asia, as well as many other prophecies contained in the final book of the bible. We visited the monastery at the top of the mountain, which contains a museum holding many ancient bibles and artwork dating back more than 1000 years. No pictures were allowed either here, nor at our next stop, John’s “grotto”. Both sites have been turned into shrines, are considered holy, and are protected by UNESCO. Our guide skillfully explained the rich history of the island, and we sat in John’s grotto and read from the first chapter of Revelation. It was all very surreal, imagining we were standing in the very spot where John wrote Revelation, and everyone was filled with a sense of wonder as we descended the mountainside for the village near the Harbour. This was indeed both a day of learning and a day to reflect on our rich Christian heritage, and what a privilege it is to be called sons and daughters of the most high God!
Our ship in Patmos harbour