Sitting in the Ruins of St. John’s Basilica: October 16, 2011-Sunday
St. John’s Byzantine Basilica Ruins
Camel in Ephesus
Summary of John’s Life
John is the only Apostle who did not suffer a martyr’s death. He was human just like the rest of us, and he had his faults, but there was a spiritual connection and understanding that John had with Jesus that the other 11 did not. John and his family were well known in Jerusalem. He must have been liked by the Jewish rulers as well because he (Had to have been John!) was witness the trials of Jesus during the night of his arrest (John 18:15). John is then present at the crucifixion with Mary, the mother of Jesus. Because there was no Joseph, Jesus was traditionally and culturally responsible to take care of his mother. John was more family to Jesus than his own brothers and sisters, and on the cross, Jesus gave John the honor of becoming Mary’s adopted “firstborn” (John 19:26-27) to be responsible for her until her death. John carried out his appointment with love and dedication.
John the Apostle also died and is buried in Ephesus at approximately 100 years of age, and a huge church was built over his grave. Emperor Justinian and his wife, Empress Theodora of the Byzantine Empire replaced the large, simple church with a huge, Christian, Byzantine basilica. Based on the ruins ( earthquake), it looked quite impressive. It is said to be the first Christian church built in the form of a cross.
We had a great time searching through the ruins. There is even a Princess video that shows Ammon and Carter happily running and investigating their surroundings. The whole experience at Ephesus was excellent. We even got to have our pictures taken with a camel before we entered our tour bus to return to the port of Kusadasi.
My most memorable and spiritual experience while we were in Ephesus was at the house of Mary the mother of Jesus. It is a very small church that still has services. We did not have a service there, but we were allowed to enter and pass through. The five of us were just about all that could fit at one time, and we passed through quite quickly. However, while I passed through, I felt such happiness and peace, and it dawned on me that this lady DESERVED the happiness and peace she experienced the last years of her life.
She had lost her husband, Joseph. When her eldest son was 33, he was crucified for no reason yet rose from the dead and ascended into heaven. She knew since before his immaculate conception that he was the son of God, but can you imagine how she watched this miracle that she bore live, die, be resurrected, and ascend into heaven with such anxiety? After helping establish the church in Acts 1:14, she and the Christians in Jerusalem were persecuted, so John, her son appointed by Jesus, took her away to finally end up in Ephesus.
It is there that she died peacefully. I did not say a word how I felt the day I was at her house to ANYONE except to God through prayer. However, several evenings later, Sean and I were jogging. We reflected back to Ephesus, and while we were jogging on the deck of the Star Princess, Sean said, “You know I had such peace while we walked through Mary’s house!” I grinned and said, “You know, so did I!” Coincidence folks? No, it’s the Holy spirit working through the believers and followers of Jesus Christ, the son Mary bore.
Our trip to Ephesus/Kusadasi, Turkey last October entailed learning how the Mediterranean Sea has retreated in 2,000 years and Bible history.
Since the time of Paul the Apostle and the Apostle John, the Mediterranean Sea has retreated some 14 miles back to the port of Kusadasi. The people journeying to Ephesus via the Mediterranean would have ported very close to the Temple of Diana one of the 7 Wonders of the Ancient World. After all the years of fires, rebuilding, earthquakes, rebuilding, the temple was never reconstructed. In an open field there, is a single column remaining that represents the magnificent temple.
Ephesus was built on the side of a mountain. The tour began at the top of the city, and we worked our way down. It was so amazing to see the ancient roads, the ancient latrinum (bathroom of toilets) of the rich, and the amphitheaters.
Antony and Cleopatra also “hung out” in Ephesus for a while. While I was there, I learned that these two conniving love birds had Cleopatra’s sister, Arsinoe, murdered in Ephesus.
Ammon and Carter spent their FIRST excursion without a stroller. They did great, and it wasn’t easy for their little legs to make it over two hours of touring the ancient ruins.