Jerusalem is the cradle of the Christian faith. This is the city where Jesus Christ, the Son of God himself, lived to be a son of man to save mankind from eternal damnation. This city is often referred to as the “Holy City” where the second coming of the Son of God will occur.
Jerusalem is considered as the holiest city not only for Christianity, but also of Judaism and Islam. Because of this, Jerusalem became the center of the many and most violent religious battles that transpired in the pages of the history of the world. The Persian, Syrian, Jewish, Roman, and Muslim Empires conquered and ravished the ancient city of Jerusalem. But Jerusalem was able to rise and thrive again, thus flourishing more in the records of all the books in the world.
Christianity is said to be the world’s largest religion as it has an estimate of 1.7 billion followers. It is based in the life, teachings, and miracles of Jesus Christ. The faith began at around 30 AD. The first century is said to be the establishment of Christianity in Palestine by the followers of Christ. Regardless of the punishment of persecution to those who believed on Jesus. Still many missionaries pursued on spreading the teaching throughout the Roman Empire. The New Testament became the output of all the compiled written books of his followers even after his death. The combined New Testament and Old Testament is the final product that is now well-known by the Christians as The Bible. This serves as the guide to the Christians as they live each day according to Jesus’s teachings.
The Holy Land of Bethlehem
As the birthplace of Jesus Christ, the charming town of Bethlehem has a sweeter meaning to Christians than any other place on earth. The name of this small, rose-colored town conjures images of a baby Jesus lying in the manger on a cold December night, visited by the three Magis guided by the bright Northern Star.
Bethlehem is translated as “house of bread” in Aramaic and Hebrew, and “house of meat” in Arabic. It was mentioned in the Bible several times in referring to the death of King David’s great grandmother, Rachel. The friendship of Ruth and Boaz, the birth and anointing of King David, and the birth of Jesus Christ.
Jewish tradition has it that Ruth moved to Bethlehem. The village became David’s family home. This is the reason why the prophet Micah says that a new king would arrive from Bethlehem to lead the Jewish people and save them from the fire’s of hell.
(Micah 5:2) . . .“And you, O Beth′lehem Eph′rathah, the one too little to get to be among the thousands of Judah, from you there will come out to me the one who is to become ruler in Israel, whose origin is from early times, from the days of time indefinite….”
The village plays a larger role in Christian tradition because the gospels of Matthew, Luke, and John record Jesus, having been born in Bethlehem, fulfills Micah’s prophecy. A pagan emperor named Hadrian had the village destroyed in 325.
Located 10 km south of Jerusalem, Bethlehem nestles in between two hilly plateaus, and lays 2,550ft above sea level. Rolling hills that stretch out on the eastward direction towards the Judean desert surrounds it. It provides a stunning panorama of an ancient landscape of vineyards, olive trees, excellently manicured gardens and tiny villages.
The livelihood of carving olive wood began in the city of Bethlehem in the fourth century. The construction of the Church of Nativity shortly followed. It was built on the traditional birthplace of Jesus. As a way to spread Christianity, the monks taught the Christians how to carve the olive wood.Since then, Christians have been carving beautiful religious crafts from one generation to another.
The Land of Nazareth
Nazareth is the heart of the Christian nation because this is Jesus Christ’s hometown. This is where Jesus Christ played most of his Messianic responsibilities. At the time when he was tried by the Roman Empire led by Pontius Pilate, Jesus was called Jesus of Nazarene, referring to the town from whence he hails from.
Nazareth is where the Church of St. Joseph’s Carpentry is located. The church houses ruins dating from the 1st century. It is recognized to be the workshop of St.. Joseph and is revered as home of the Holy Family. The site was vacated for a very long time until the Franciscans congregation bought it in 1754 and built a chapel customized and dedicated to the saint.
Nazareth also cradles other significant house of worship, one of which is the Synagogue Church – the place said to be where Jesus preached. (Luke 4) Another is Gabriel’s Church which is believed by the Greek Catholics as the real Annunciation site. Also, Mensa Christi Church – known as the “Table of Christ” is believed to be the dining place of Jesus and his apostles right before his Resurrection.
Another famous landmark in Nazareth is The Basilica of the Annunciation. According to the Christian tradition, this is said to be the place where Gabriel spoke with Mary, saying:,”Behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shall call him Jesus” (Luke 1:26-35).
As Jesus Christ left Nazareth, a miraculous event happened. This is his miracle to perform in Cana as he changed the water into wine. (John 2:11, 4:46) Today, the Kafr Kana (Arab) village can be accessed through a ten minute trip in Tiberias road.
Six miles away from the southeast of Nazareth, you will find the famous mountain – Mt. Tabor. It is distinctive for its dome-shape and its height rising above the Jezreel Valley at almost 2,000 feet. This mountain is believed by most Christians as a holy place where Jesus undergone Transfiguration (Luke 9:28-36). The Crusader and Byzantine eras are historical as it was when many monasteries had been built on top of the mountain. Unfortunately, these were destroyed by conquerors particularly the Arabs. Later in the 1920s, The Basilica of the Transfiguration over the same place where the ruins of the older churches were at.
Belonging to the Greek Orthodox religious group is the Synagogue Church. The Synagogue Church is, unfortunately, not a merge of two religions. On the contrary, what was in Biblical times a Jewish synagogue, was turned into a Christian church during the rule of Constantine the Great. Despite being a Christian place of worship, the Greek Orthodox remained true to the synagogue’s history by maintaining the late synagogue’s external appearance. To this day, church officials claim that it was in this Nazareth synagogue that Christ gave his sermons to the Israelites.
The only site in Nazareth that can be definitely identified as dating back to New Testament times is the town well, now called St. Mary’s Well, which has provided water for the village from the first century to the present day.
The Sea of Galilee
The Sea of Galilee means Yam Kinneret in Hebrew. It is Israel’s greatest freshwater lake and is located in the northeastern region of Israel. The Sea of Galilee, described as a sea primarily because of historical reasons that occurred in its shores, has gained geological identification as the lowest freshwater lake in the world. It lies 200 meters below sea the level.
World celebrated for being the beautiful lake shore on where Jesus Christ staged his multitudinous miracles, the Sea of Galilee has also been acknowledged in the New Testament of the Christian Bible as an exuberant and bountiful source of life; a rich wellspring of fish stock for the Israelites. The Sea of Galilee is a place that should not to be omitted in anyone’s travel list when embarking on a tour to the Holy Land because of its beauty and splendor and the rich history that it nurses.
Sea of Galilee
A series of gigantic mountains surround the Sea of Galilee. When the wind from these mountaintops comes in, the Sea of Galilee churns its calm waters, and stirs up a violent storm. This geological characteristic backs the biblical story of Jesus calming the stormy waters of the Sea of Galilee after his day of sermons.
Another one of the too many miracles of Jesus that occurred on the lakeshore of the Sea of Galilee, is the Feeding of the Multitude. This was retold in the Gospels of Matthew and Mark. It is here that Jesus said to have fed 5,000 people with only five loaves of bread and two fish. Finally, the tour to the lake will be incomplete without imitating the most popular of Jesus’ miracles: the walking on the water.
Several hours later in the night, the disciples encounter a storm. Jesus comes to them, walking on the water. This terrifies the disciples and they think they are seeing a ghost. Jesus tells them in verse 27, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
Peter replies, “Lord, if it’s you, tell me to come to you on the water.” So Jesus invites Peter to come. Peter gets out of the boat and begins walking on the water toward Jesus. But when Peter takes his eyes off Jesus and sees the wind and waves, he begins to sink. Peter cries out to the Lord and Jesus immediately reaches out his hand and catches Peter. As they climb into the boat together, the storm ceases. Then the disciples worship Jesus, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
Mt 5: 44-45
Jesus’ Teachings and the Sermon on the Mount Above the Sea of Galilee are said to have taken place on the Mount of Beatitudes. This mountain looks out on the entire panorama of the lake. The Sermon on the Mount is of distinct significance to the Christians for its recapitulation and enhancement on the Ten Commandments from the Old Testament. It is in this sermon that Jesus is said to have conveyed and reiterated the meaning of the “golden rule” that preaches about temperance and restraint in front of temptation, and of “turning the other cheek” which Jesus applied the weight of turning down violence at all costs.
44 “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, 45 “that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust….”
Sea of Galilee
During the Byzantine period, monasteries, shrines and churches were built on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. These were built to remember the Ministry of Jesus and the marvels that happened in the lake. The place called “Tabgha” is said to be the exact site of the Church of the Miracle of Multiplication of the loaves and fish. Tabgha is located on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee. The rebuilt Byzantine church is a prime tourist destination that attracts Christians and non-Christians alike. A mosaic that portrays a basket of bread and two fish is placed in front of the altar and is a site that should not be excluded in the list of where– to- go when visiting the church.
The Sea of Galilee is historically important even to Non Christians especially in Jerusalem. A few decades after Jesus Christ’s reign, during the period of Roman Empire, the lake was the area of a battle between the Jewish and the Roman armies. The Romans, with greater training and weaponry, defeated and triumphed over the Jews, filling the Sea of Galilee with the blood and bodies of those who were killed.
Sea of Galilee
It was said that in the time of the New Testament, the Sea of Galilee had sixteen active ports and must have had thousands of boats on it. Yet not a single one of these boats had survived to the modern era. Then on January 24Th, 1986—a 2,000-year-old artifact was discovered and it has come to be known to millions around the world as “The Jesus Boat.” This discovery in Jerusalem changed history forever as it debunks any skeptic’s claim about the life of Jesus Christ.
Bethlehem, Nazareth, The Sea of Galilee, Jerusalem. These places are reasons more than enough why a visit in Israel is a must– do in one’s lifetime. These places in Jerusalem are magical, enticing, miraculous, and alive in more than any words could express.