The Holy Land…the trip of a lifetime. Two weeks in Israel exploring the people and places of bible history, soaking in a bit of Jewish culture, and setting my feet in the very places Jesus walked during the days of His ministry on earth. Not just the places He could have been or might have been, but places where scripture tells us He was here.
It is easy to forget I am journeying with other pilgrims from the 21st Century. Instead I imagine myself among Jesus’ disciples resting in the secluded tranquility of a grove of trees at Caesarea Philippi or walking along the edge of the Sea of Galilee listening to the comforting cadence of waves dancing along the shoreline.
The synagogue in ancient Capernaum. The Pools of Bethesda. The Southern Steps to the Temple Mount. Scripture tells us specifically Jesus was here. To walk in these places is both humbling and surreally beautiful.
Did I come here to learn more about His ministry and teachings? Did I seek to gain better understanding of scripture by experiencing these places? Did I want to feel closer to Jesus by physically touching the same places He touched? Did I hope His presence lingered in a palpable way, ready to greet me with His embrace of love and mercy? Absolutely.
And in each of these desires, Jesus found me and blessed me beyond anything I could have imagined.
Yes, I walked where Jesus walked and He walked with me.
But have I really walked where Jesus walked?
Long flights home gave me plenty of opportunities to contemplate all I had seen and learned, and yet while I marveled at the places I had been—walking in the places Jesus walked—I couldn’t ignore the question God kept whispering in my heart.
Yes, I walked where Jesus walked, but have I really?
“But Jesus said to them, ‘A prophet is not without honor except in his own country and in his own house.’” Matthew 13:57
Have I stood before the doubters and the skeptics and poured my heart out in the often-vain hope they would hear, understand, and accept salvation? Or have I let fear of rejection or judgement keep me from sharing the Gospel with family, friends, neighbors, coworkers who need to hear the Good News?
“Now it happened, as Jesus sat at the table in the house, that behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Him and His disciples.” Matthew 9:10
Have I sought out the company of the unpopular, the unwanted, the despised and forgotten? Have I been willing to go to them, or am I content to merely go to the edge of their world and try to wave them over into mine? To stand at the edge of their neighborhood and hope they’ll come out?
“Then Jesus put out His hand and touched him, saying, ‘I am willing; be cleansed.’ Immediately his leprosy was cleansed.’” Matthew 8:3
Have I gone to the sick and unclean with a willing heart and sought to comfort them or help them at the expense of my own comfort or security?
“Then Jesus said, ‘Father forgive them for they do not know what they do.’” Luke 23:34
Have I interceded in prayer for my enemies?
“And when He had spoken this, He said to him, ‘Follow Me.’” John 21:19
Have I forgiven those who have betrayed me?
“Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it, saying, ‘If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.’” Luke 19:41-42
Have I wept over Jerusalem as Jesus did?
It is a powerful thing to visit the Holy Land and experience the places of bible history—the history of our faith. But it is not the ultimate destination. When Jesus said, “Follow me,” this is not the journey He spoke of.
…to walk among the lost and forgotten,
…to walk among the sick and unclean,
…to walk among the poor and hopeless,
…to walk among the hateful and hostile,
…to walk among the broken and unseen.
These are the places Jesus walked and calls us to walk today.
Our group was blessed to have an amazing guide for our trip. He told us many things that will resonate with me forever, but there are two unexpected things he said that revealed so much more than the surface level of his statements.
On the first day of the trip he told us we weren’t just walking through Israel. Israel was walking through us. How little I understood what truth that would be! But if I really soak in the deeper meaning of these words, I understand it also means I wasn't just walking where Jesus walked. Jesus was walking through me. It's the place He has always headed, isn't it?
Now, I’m back home and I can no longer step in Jesus’ physical footsteps, but I can let Him continue to walk through me, taking me to the places He calls me to go.
Another expression our guide was known for is “Walkie talkie, let’s keep moving. Questions at the end.” This is necessary instruction to keep us on track (no easy task for a bunch of wide-eyed and curious tourist), but could it be this is also the message God wants to imprint on my heart—on all our hearts—for my journey after Israel?
Walkie talkie, let’s keep moving. Questions at the end.
The tour guide version of the Great Commission. (Thank you, Amitai :))
I think this might just be my new motto for life.
Lord, thank you for continuing to direct my steps in the way You would have me go. Fill me with the strength I need to always keep going. I place all my trust in You, confident my questions will be answered in the end. May I live my life in such a way I will one day be able to say I have truly walked where Jesus walked.