Yesterday I preached on the Triumphal Entry from Matthew 21:1–11. Among other things in my PowerPoint, I was able to use several photographs from Todd Bolen’s excellent Pictorial Library of Bible Lands (PLBL). I thought I might share a few thoughts on how I used this resource in preaching.
First, I wanted to show an overview of the area mentioned in Matthew 21:1: “Now when they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Bethphage, to the Mount of Olives.” Although, Matthew does not mention Bethany as part of the story, I wanted to include it as well since it is noted in both Mark and Luke (Mark 11:1; Luke 19:29). I found what I was looking for in the PLBL Volume on Jerusalem, in particular in the PowerPoint on the Mount of Olives (slide 38). This slide helpfully labels a number of locations. I removed all the labels except for Bethany, Bethphage, and the Dome of the Rock (representing Jerusalem since the others labels were not pertinent to the message. I also changed the labeling slightly to make it easier to see. I then took a photo of the church in Bethphage from volume 17: Cultural Images of the Holy Land in the Christian Holidays-Palm Sunday folder and used it an inset to the overview slide. Here are the before and after slides.
After talking about Matthew 21:1–3, I also used a PLBL photo of a donkey in Bethphage from the Mount of Olives folder in the Jerusalem volume. In my message, I noted that although this was not the Triumphal Entry donkey, I would like to think that maybe it was its great, great, great, great ancestor!
In sum, these photos were not essential for the message but I do think that they helped people to better visualize the scene in the text. They also added a level of realism that the Triumphal Entry occurred in a real place and not in some Neverland. Next time you are preaching (especially from a narrative) and you plan to use a presentation, then you might want to take a look at the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands. You might find exactly what you are looking for.