Life is a journey they say. As I commemorate my fifth decade here on earth, I decided not just to go for a trip, but for a pilgrimage. I wanted to walk where Jesus walked.
In tracing the steps of our Saviour, we ventured to Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus. But unlike the familiar Christmas hymn, “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” Bethlehem today is not a little town but a thriving busy city.
We were led to an old church, the Church of Nativity, where it was believed, based on tradition, to be the site of Jesus’ birth.
At the basement of this church was the marked site where He was born. But there was no shepherds. No angels singing. Just a crowd of eager people trying to make a bee line to see this site.
Then as we traveled through Israel, I saw signs that points to Nazareth, the place that Jesus spent most of His years – from His childhood until He started His ministry. But the Bible was silent about those years He spent in Nazareth.
We followed Jesus’ footsteps into the river Jordan. This is where He was baptized, signaling the start of His ministry.
Some in our group even decided to be baptized in the Jordan River.
Jordan River is not as a large and mighty as I imagined. Though it appears “muddy” as it was described in the scriptures. No wonder Captain Naaman of the Syrian army as recorded in 2 Kings, refused to dip in this water.
Yet, muddy or not, I must at least dip my hand, and my belief.
Then we followed Jesus’ footsteps into the mountains near Jericho. This is the mountain where it was believed He was tempted.
What could it be like to spend 40 days and 40 nights in this barren place? Though interestingly today, there is a stone quarry at the foot of the mountain. Definitely lots of stones that can be turned into bread.
Then we looked for Jesus’ traces in the town of Cana. This is where He performed His first miracle, where in a wedding feast, He turned water into wine.
Our trip then led us to a town that He spent some time during His ministry, a town called Capernaum or Capharnaum.
The only remains of this town today are ruins. Though the site is still beautiful as it is beside the lake, known as the Sea of Galilee. We even saw the remains of an old synagogue (photo below).
Even though we only see ruins of that Capernaum town, it showed us a glimpse, a window if you will, of where Jesus walked.
We climbed a mountain beside the Sea of Galilee. This they say is where He gave His teachings or His sermon on the mount, that became known as the Beatitudes.
As I looked at the beautiful scenery, I tried to listen through the blowing wind, to His voice and His teachings, in that Beatitude mountain.
We even had the chance to sail across the Sea of Galilee, where on this very waters, He shouted “Peace, be still,” amidst the roaring waves and howling winds. Good thing there’s no violent storm when we sailed across it.
I could even imagine the footsteps that He left on the waters, when he walked on it. But no one among us tried to walk on the water, for that will be preposterous.
We followed Him through Jerusalem. We climbed the Mount of Olives, where He spent some time teaching and praying.
From the Mount of Olives we viewed the City of Jerusalem (photo below). This is where Jesus wept when He looked into the city and the temple, knowing of its coming destruction.
Then we trace Jesus’ footsteps into the walled city of Jerusalem and walked in its streets and alleys.
We followed Him into the Garden of Gethsemane where He fervently prayed, the night before He was arrested.
Then we walked the path known as Via Dolorosa or the Way of Suffering. This is the path that he chose to walk on his way to Calvary in behalf of you and me. (Photo below is Station V of the Stations of the Cross in the Via Dolorosa)
We then went to the place known as the Skull Hill (calvarium is Latin for skull) or also known as Golgotha. This is the place believed where Jesus was crucified and died, so we can have life.
Below is the Skull Hill today. Old photos of this hill showed it is really shaped as a skull, though recent earthquakes have changed its distinct features.
Then we went to see the tomb where they laid His body after He died. (The Garden Tomb is one site, though there’s another possible site, the Holy Sepulchre Church, which we also visited.)
We even went inside the tomb. But that tomb was empty. For He is risen! And that is the very foundation of my faith.
As we celebrate this Lent season, may we contemplate on His life and what He has done for all of us.
And as a pilgrim, I realize that walking where Jesus walked would be pointless, unless we also follow His will and walked spiritually as well, where He walked.
May we have a meaningful and glorious Easter.