Where Jesus walked
by Ivan Wild, Major –
Since returning from the Holy Land study tour, many people have asked me, “What was your favorite place?” That is like trying to answer, “What is your favorite verse in the Bible? In Scripture it is the whole gospel story. In the Holy Land it was the whole experience.
There were many memorable moments. Some were funny, and some inspired new insights and moving experiences. Though the Holy Land was crowded with tourists and pilgrims there for Passion Week, and though it is filled with commercialism, modernizations and secularism, it is the place “where Jesus walked.”
Being at the actual places where Jesus taught and performed miracles brought insight to some of his sayings. For example, seeing actual millstones in Capernaum and realizing that it was at Capernaum where Jesus said, “It is better to tie a millstone around your neck and drown in the lake than lead my children astray” (paraphrase of Matthew 18:6), made his words even more significant.
There was Caesarea Philippi—the place Jesus asked Peter, “Who do you say that I am?” Being physically there and seeing the remains of the Roman temples to their gods gave me the understanding that Jesus picked just the right time and place to get his point across.
Then there were moments that cannot be entirely expressed by words. For me, it was praying with my wife and friends at the Jordan River, praying on behalf of the Torrance corps at the wailing wall at 4 a.m. while people at home watched on the Internet, and singing “Spirit of the living God” in the upper room—where the Holy Spirit came at Pentecost.
Where it happened for the whole group was at the Roman place of judgment where a criminal was brought out before crucifixion. The stones are the actual stones where Jesus would have stood. We were silent as we contemplated the hours of his suffering. Then one person began to pray and then another, thanking Jesus for what he did. Within moments there was not a dry eye. The images we read about in the Gospels became a vivid reality as we stood on the stones where Jesus was flogged and bruised for our iniquities. We could only cry out, “Thank you, Jesus!”
On the last day, we were allowed to go by ourselves. We were warned not to go to the Northern Gate—the Damascus Gate—because there had been some violence the day before. Of course, my group inadvertently found ourselves in that area. It was busy, no tourism, just life on the streets in Jerusalem. As we were trying to decide which way to go back to our hotel, down a crowded street I noticed Golgotha—the place of the skull—the hill of Calvary! I could clearly see the image of a skull made by the rock formation on the side of the hill. We had seen it from the Garden Tomb tour, but now we were at street level. I stood at the bottom of the hill, looking up to the place where Jesus was crucified. Then I noticed that all around me thousands were oblivious to the place where Jesus died for our sins.
At that moment, it became clear to me that there is a world right where I live that is oblivious of Jesus’ death and resurrection. And I know I need to break into their busyness and share this wonderful news.