by Brooke Obie
One of the most incredible parts about being in the Holy Land is walking in the places where Jesus met with disciples, skeptics, pharisees and people looking to be healed. Here are twelve places where Jesus ministered while on earth.
The Book of John tells the story of a major milestone in Jesus' ministry, the time he performed his first miracle. At a wedding in Cana, the guests ran out of wine. Bible scholars speculate that Mary came to Jesus about the fiasco perhaps because Jesus brought his 12 friends to the wedding and they drank up the wine. Whatever the reason, Jesus took holy water, blessed it and changed it into wine. Though there is speculation about where exactly the miracle took place, this church, called the Wedding Church at Cana, is celebrated as where the wedding took place.
The fishing village of Capernaum sits on the northern shore of Galilee and was the center of Jesus' ministry in Galilee. The hometown of many of his disciples, Capernaum is where Jesus healed Peter's mother in law, the man with the unclean spirit, the disabled man who had to be lowered down to Jesus from the roof of a house to avoid the crowd, and more. Today, tourists visit the ruins of Capernaum and as with many sites where Jesus is expected to have ministered, there is a church marking the location, overlooking the Sea of Galilee.
Much of Jesus' miracles involved the Sea of Galilee, but it's not a sea. Technically, Galilee is a freshwater lake. Located in the Jordan Rift Valley, the shores of this lake are where Jesus recruited four of His disciples, Simon, Andrew, James and John. This is where Jesus walked on water and empowered Peter to do the same. This photo on the lake shows a replica of the boat in which the disciples would have traveled.
Tagbha is a town situated on the shore of the Sea of Galilee where Jesus fed 5,000 people with two fish and five loaves of bread. After the resurrection of Jesus, Peter and a few other disciples had gone back to the profession of fishing on the lake with no luck. They saw a resurrected Jesus standing on the shores and He called out to the disciples to cast their nets on the right side of the boat. The disciples obeyed and their nets were overflowing with fish. After their fishing nets overflowed, Peter came to shore to see Jesus and Jesus offered Peter an opportunity to redeem himself for denying Jesus three times. Catholics believe that He made Peter the first pope at that moment. The Church of the Primacy of St. Peter is pictured here, where that historic moment happened.
After the miracle of the five loaves and two fish, Jesus walked His disciples up from the Sea of Galilee to Caesarea Phillipi. It was well-known that this rocky area had a cave which pagans believed to be the gates of hell. In front of this mountain, Jesus asked His disciples who everyone was saying He is. They answered, John the Baptist, Elias, and other prophets. Jesus asked, "Who do you say I am?" And Peter said, "You are the Christ, Son of the Living God." Jesus called Peter blessed for his faith and uttered the famous words, "I call you Peter; and upon this rock I will build my Church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." Matthew 16:13-18.
Up from the Sea of Galilee near Capernaum is where Jesus preached the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7. "“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth."
Today, the Catholic Church of Beattitudes sits at the top of the mountain. This photo is taken in the garden of the church.
Jesus often ministerd in Jericho, but Luke 19:1-10 tells the story of Jesus passing through the city and the eager tax collecter Zacchaeus who climbed a sycamore tree to see Jesus over the crowd. Tax collectors were despised people because they cheated people out of their money and were very rich. But Jesus called Zacchaeus down from the tree anyway and told him that Jesus would be a guest in his home. The crowd grumbled about Jesus associating with him and Zacchaeus immediately sought to right the wrongs he had done to everyone as a tax collector. Jesus said, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
This image is of the sycamore tree that Zacchaeus climbed.
In Matthew 4:8, when Jesus is fasting in the wilderness for 40 days and nights, the devil comes to tempt Him. At the top of what is now called the Mount of Temptation, the devil promised Jesus all the kingdoms in the world if Jesus would bow down and worship him. Jesus prevailed over the temptation and the devil left Him.
In John 5, Jesus met a man lying on a mat who had been sick for 38 years. He asked the man, "Do you want to be made well?" Jesus told the man to get up, take his mat and walk. Immediately, the sick man became well.
Until the 19th Century, archaeologists believed the Biblical account of the pool of Bethesda to be metaphorical. Then the ruins of the pool, pictured here, were discovered in what is now considered the Muslim quarter of Jerusalem, matching the description.
The Mount of Olives is mentioned many times in the Old and New Testaments. Atop this mountain of olive groves, Jesus instructed two of His disciples to go into Jerusalem and get the colt that He was to ride into Jerusalem on so that Old Testament prophecy would be fulfilled. As he rode down the mountain, disciples laid down their cloaks before Him and cried out "Hosanna! Blessed is the King!" Christians commemorate this today on Palm Sunday. Jesus, knowing His time was drawing short, wept over Jerusalem at the base of this mountain because He knew that the city's enemies would soon come and overtake it (Luke 19:41-44). In the book of Acts, Jesus was said to have ascended to Heaven after His resurrection from the Mount of Olives.
This photo was taken from the observation deck on the Mount of Olives, overlooking Jerusalem. The gold dome sits atop of the famous Temple Mount, a holy site for Muslims, Jewish people and Christians alike.
The Garden of Gethsemane, the place where Jesus prayed for God to pass the cup of condemnation from Him. It's also the place where Jesus was betrayed by Judas and arrested on the last night of His life. But it is no garden. Gethsemane lies at the foot of the Mount of Olives and in Jesus' time it was simply an olive grove. The tree in this picture dates back to the time of Jesus.
In the Old City of Jerusalem, there is a street called the Via Dolorosa, which means in Latin, the "path of sorrow." This is believed to be the path that Jesus walked down as He carried the cross to His crucifixion. Today, pilgrims travel down the 9 Stations of the Cross, beginning at the base of the Mount of Olives and ending at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which is built on top of the place where Jesus was crucified. The remaining 5 Stations of the Cross are inside the church. Though the exact path of Jesus on the way to Calvary is disputed by scholars, Christians gather regularly to walk the Via Dolorosa and remember the sacrifice of Jesus. Take a Holy Land tour of the Via Dolorosa in pictures, here.
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