It's rare to have your breath taken away.
& it's also rare to be so moved inside your heart that you can't help but have your eyes swell up with tears—happy, joyful, blissful tears of course.
This past Thursdays site visit for my New Testament class was to St. John Lateran Basilica—the first Christian Church in the whole world. This church holds the one and only original baptistry of Rome—where anyone who was ready to devote their life to The Lord came to be baptized.
Just inside the front arches of the church is the portico which houses a statue of Constantine. Right here leading into the church is one out of the three sets of original bronze casted doors still left in Rome—you bet your money I made sure I rubbed them for good luck.
You know what stood out to me though about these doors?
Besides the fact that they are hundreds of years old—they were taken from the Rome Senate.
So here's Constantine, big shot emperor of Rome and get this:
This guy takes the doors off the senate—the huge political powerhouse of R-o-m-e, and brings them here. To this Christian church to show those bigheads the transfer of power to God's house.
He's making a statement to all of Rome that hey the Church is more powerful than any manmade laws & Jesus is mightier than any empire.
Now ladies & gents are you feeling inspired yet? Well, remember, that was just on the portico—you haven't even entered the house party yet.
There's no cover charge to get in—you're in luck—but like I said earlier, it sure will take your breath away.
John Lateran waists no time getting to the good stuff—just look at my snapshots—gold, marble, intricate engravings, beautiful frescos and everything just dripping in elegance and detail.
My kinda place.
OK I'll get to my point now that I've lingered you this far down the page...the most surreal experience I've had in Rome thus far happened right here in the isle of this church.
Inside, there are massive statues of the 12 apostles around the center isle. All face, lead and focus on the alter—where the word becomes flesh, the alter is used as a symbol of Christ himself.
PSA I'm going to get a little theological & technical here, but stay with me. Above each apostle is an engraving depicting a Bible story. There are the Old Testament scenes on the left side and then New Testament scenes of fulfillment on the right.
What we call this here is salvation history. We see the oldest Bible stories being looked at thru a lens of Christian history, as if a compare and contrast chart is happening live with the Old Testament stories and then how Jesus Christ fulfills them in the New Testament.
To get to the front alter of the church, you must walk thru this sea of Christian history—the story of Jonah and the whale, the story of Joseph, Jesus' arrest, the sacrifice of Isaac, Noah and the flood, Adam & Eve and Christ on the cross.
By understanding these stories along the walk to the front alter, to Christ himself, we are to understand more about Jesus and what his love and ultimate plan for us means.
That's when it hit me: dang, I'm in ROME.