As you may know, Jacqui and I have just returned from the Holy Land. We visited several sites associated with the life and ministry of Jesus including Bethlehem, where Jesus was born, Nazareth where he grew up, Capernaum, where he lived as an adult and Jerusalem, where he was executed and where the risen Jesus first appeared to the disciples.
Some of the sites we visited have good evidence to link them to the historical events whilst others didn’t claim to be more than representative. For example, Matthew’s Gospel tells us that Jesus taught the disciples what we now know as the Beatitudes on a mountainside in Galilee. A possible site for this was identified in the 4th century AD and Christians have remembered Jesus’ words in that place since then.
We visited two possible sites of the crucifixion. One has a church built over it; the other is at the back of a bus station. As one guide suggested to us, the most important thing is not where Jesus gave his life. What really matters is the fact that he did give his life and in so doing, restored the relationship between God and the human race.
It’s that fact that made the experience of visiting these sites so special. Places where famous people have lived are interesting, but Jesus was much more than just another historical figure. Seeing these places has informed and enhanced our understanding of events that we have read about in the Bible so many times.
Alongside this, we have gained a greater understanding of the issues facing that part of the world today, as well as seeing the work of the Church in a country where Christianity is very much a minority religion.
So we have been educated, informed, challenged and enriched. It has made us wonder about returning with others from Christ Church. If that’s something that might interest you, let us know.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.”
Revd Andy Wilson