Hot on Jesus' Trail - Part 1 of 4
We visited Israel and Palestine thinking we knew what to expect. We all know about Jesus' life story and as children we all imagined what his life experiences looked like. Movies and illustrated books solidified our imagination. Upon completing our tour of the locations written in the new testament, we realized that everything we had anticipated was very different from the reality we experienced.
One of our trip objectives was to visit many of the New Testament sites. We completed our journey on foot, by rented car, hired vehicle and a mini van tour.
It really isn't practical to visit all of the sites in chronological order, but it is definitely possible to reorganize them into four posts so they make sense.
Our blog tour starts with the annunciation where the angels visited Mary in Nazareth. There are two possible locations: the first is the ancient well developed on a spring that still flows today. It is located in the Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation.
The second possible location is Mary's home which is now enshrined within the much larger Basilica of the Annunciation located at the opposite end of the old city.
From here, our trail takes us to Bethlehem. The first location was near Bethlehem, the cave where the angles announced Jesus' birth to a group of Sheppard's. Another cave we visited was the lessor known milk grotto, when fleeing Bethlehem to find safety in Egypt it is believed a drop of Mary's milk dropped on the cave stone and turned it white. It is a pilgrimage place where families come to pray for healing related to women's fertility challenges.
The very crowded Church of the Nativity was our final stop in Bethlehem. This is the oldest continually operating church. The exterior is very plain. The interior is quite unique and much more elaborate than the exterior.
The spot of Jesus' birth, located at the end of a cave beneath the church, is literally marked with a star (which can partially be seen on the right hand side of the worshiper in the photo below.
We concluded Jesus' early years with a stop at His Baptism site which is actually located in Jordan. The site, supported by archeological evidence, is a natural spring located near the Jordan River where John The Baptist performed many baptisms before and after the Baptism of Christ.
This is the Jordan River as it stands today, only a few metres wide. Both sides of the river are militarized zones. The river itself can only be accessed at this point. Baptisms are still possible and were taking place on both sides of the river during our visit. The rope in the water marks the boundary between Jordan and Israel. The photo was taken from this angle to cut out the Israeli soldier, complete with a machine gun, on the opposite bank.