I’ve asked people who’ve traveled to see the Holy Land, ”What is it like.” They always hesitated before they answer and I wondered why. Now I know. I think angels are still in awe of what happened here!
There are so many fascinating contrasts and in ways I wasn’t expecting. First of all, Israel is such a little country. It’s only 425 kilometers long and you can drive across it in about 2 hours at the widest part.
Then the nation seems so peaceful. 75% of the population is Jewish and they quietly co-exists with 20% Arab citizens, and 5% mixed Christians and others. Only the narrow Gaza Strip, Palestine in the south, seems to have any political unrest.
Modern beautiful cities contrast against a rural countryside that sometimes looks like it’s stuck in the third world. But like millions of tourists, we have come to see the sites where Jesus Christ lived his life and performed miracles.
Oh and just for clarification, Christ was not his last name – Christ means the “powerfully anointed One”. The Jews in Israel still don’t believe that Jesus was actually fathered by God. Yet they accept and preserve the historical sites where Jesus performed amazing miracles in their nation.
Nazareth: The town where Jesus grew up. The cave (called a grotto) with a stone wall entrance to the home of Mary. Perhaps the same grotto the Archangel Gabriel appeared to announce to Mary that she had been chosen to become artificially impregnated making her a virgin mother of the Son of God. Jesus was to become a Saviour to the whole human race.
Now on top of this site is the largest Christian Church in the Middle East: The Basilica of the Annunciation. It’s contemporary 170 foot cupola illuminates the fantastic mosaics on the floor with light from above.
Zoom in to see the Eye of God overlooking all in the picture behind the altar. Yes, the same one on the US dollar bill except this one has a peaceful dove to rest upon.
Cana: Then we drove though Cana where Jesus performed his first miracle of turning water into wine at a wedding he and his family attended!
Jordan River: is but a small stream compared to Canadian standards. It doesn’t seem muddy or cold, like the old Joan Baez song “All my Trials, Lord”. The Yardenit Gardens claims that John the Baptist baptized Jesus here. A dove appeared and John heard a celestial voice cry out, “This is my son, of whom I’m well pleased.”
Still today people get baptized here, close to where the River Jordan joins the Sea of Galilee.
Sea of Galilee: Now we’re at Tabgha in a green and graceful landscape over looking the Sea of Galilee. Except the Sea of Galilee is not a sea at all. It’s a 20 kilometre long fresh water lake. To me it looks like a smaller version of Okanagan Lake in BC where we live in Canada!
Tabgha: Jesus multiplied a few loaves and fish enough to feed a huge crowd of Jews from Galilee on the western shore. He did it again on the eastern shore in Tel Hadar and feed Gentiles from the Decapolis. This was the region of his healing ministry, where he healed a leper, and the centurion’s daughter, and multitudes in the crowds.
Capernaum: The ancient town site where Jesus called out to the local fishermen to leave their nets and follow him. Jesus rebuked the storm on the lake and made it disappear when they thought they were going to drown. Jesus walked on water out in the middle of this lake. When his friends were so frightened, he climbed into the boat to show that it was really him.
Here is the remnants of Peter’s mother-in-laws home where Jesus would stay while he spoke out in the temple nearby. Now a beautiful church is careful positioned over the site to preserve its humble beginnings.
But the original church ruins are still there. The stones remain andperhaps even echoes of a soft confident voice whispers in the heat and drifts down with the sunlight.
Here are the holes in the stone floor of the temple where the heavy wooden doors grooved the floor. The same doorway opened into the temple that Jesus spoke in, challenging the Jewish believers to expand their way of thinking.
Sermon on the Mount: On this beautiful hillside near Tabgha, Jesus gave the famous Beatitudes of hope. We soak in the atmosphere and feel his presence still.
Capernaum and Tabgha were the same ancient towns in the Galilee region where Jesus Christ returned to – AFTER his death and resurrection on the cross in Jerusalem. He met with Peter and the other disciples. Over 500 people saw him and witnessed his miraculous resurrection. 1 Corinthians 15:6 and Matthew 28 , Mark 6:45-52
Yes, I got a little quivery breathing in the ancient history of it all!
The next post is Entering the old City of Jerusalem! Continue to follow this series using the link on the side bar.
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