One of the main purposes of our Holy Land trip was to follow the footsteps of Lord Jesus. We visited Bethlehem, Jesus’s birth place, Nazareth, where he grew up, Capernaum, his hometown for 3 1/2 year ministry on Earth, and of course Jerusalem, Via Dolorosa and Golgotha where he was crucified and resurrected. It was beyond amazing to visit those historical sites, where holy scriptures were brought to life.
The “little town” Bethlehem is six miles south of Jerusalem in Palestine. Thanks for the pilgrims and tourism, today it is a bustling city with 28,000 people. From where we had lunch in Bethlehem we could see Jerusalem. Although the Israel and Palestine relationship was complicated, visitors could get in and out of Bethlehem fairly easily. Our tour company took care of the visa for us, it took us in no time to pass the security checkpoint.
The Chapel of Shepherd’s field and the Shepherd’s Caves
and the Church of Milk Grotto.
Of course, people from all over the world came to Bethlehem for the Church of Nativity, the very location where baby Jesus was born. The entrance to the church was very small, I had to bend over to enter. This design was to remind the pilgrims to be humble just like their king borne in a lowly manger.
Nazareth, the childhood home of Jesus, is the largest city in the Northern District of Israel, today known as “the Arab capital of Israel” with population over 75,000.
This grand Church of Annunciation was built on the grotto (lower level) where archangel Gabriel announced to virgin Mary that she had found favor with God, she would conceive and give birth to a son and He would save the people from their sins. In the upper level of church there were collective displays of “Mary and Child” donated from all over the world. The one from America was quite contemporary😉.
Contrary to the Church of Annunciation, the Church of St. Joseph was in the same complex, but much simpler. It was built on top of Joseph’s grotto. Mary and Joseph must had lived really close, almost like neighbors. 😀
The Nazareth Village was the re-creation of first century Nazareth, away from the city on an untouched farm land with shepherds and sheep, olive trees and oil press, and a replica of first century synagogue.
South of the city stood the Mount of Precipice, it silently witnessed that the prophet was not welcomed by his own community. Luke 4 told us how the people of Nazareth rejected Jesus, they wanted to push him off the cliff. Since then he moved his ministry to Capernaum.
One of the highlights of this trip was the boat tour at the Sea of Galilee. It was a beautiful sunny day. Can you picture Jesus walking on this water (Matthew 14:22-33) and calm the wind and waves (Mark 4:35-41)?
During the three years’ ministry on Earth, more than 80% of Jesus’ miracles were performed around the area of Capernaum/Galilee. Wow!
The Church of St. Peter’s Primacy in Capernaum. Jesus restored Peter after he denied Him three times before a rooster crowed. “Do you love me? Feed my sheep.” also three times!
An other absolute highlight of the trip was being baptized in the Jordan River (Yardenit). Not exactly on the same spot where Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist, he was in today’s Jordan across from Tel Jericho, but the proximity was still exciting. We re-dedicated ourselves in the Jordan River, although symbolic, it was an equally emotional event.
Thank you so much for reading this far! I really appreciate you following my journey! Hopefully I will finish this impression series this weekend.