Even after thousands of years, the Holy Land still vividly illuminates its ancient stories. And for Scripture-lovers, experiencing these illuminations is unforgettable.
Take, for instance, my first glimpse of Jesus’ hometown. Our tour group had just crossed the Jezreel Valley only to see a huge, alarmingly steep hill towering above us. It was the site of Nazareth. Immediately the image flashed to mind of an angry mob that had led Jesus “unto the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might cast him down headlong” (Luke 4:29). Until that moment I’d had no conception of the height and steepness of that hill and of the threat that such a fall would have been to Jesus’ life. How grateful I was that “he passing through the midst of them went his way”! The Holy Land had clearly illuminated for us the remarkable protection Jesus had experienced at the very start of his ministry.
Soon after this the Holy Land gave us further insight into another time when Jesus’ life was at stake. We’d arrived in Jerusalem late in the day, and by the time we reached the Garden of Gethsemane, it was already growing dark—just as it would have been on the night before his crucifixion when Jesus came here with his disciples to pray. To the west of us was a hill, Mount Moriah, on which would have stood the Temple, looming over them. Jesus well knew what fate awaited him if he remained in the vicinity of that Temple during this emotionally charged Passover festival. He also knew how easy it would be to find safety over the hill that lay to the east of them, the Mount of Olives. Standing there in the dark between those two hills, we caught a glimpse of how much, in that crucial moment, depended on his choice and realized as never before what vision, courage, and love it took to make that choice.
Experiences such as these bring priceless insights to those who love the Bible. If you haven’t yet visited the Holy Land, I hope you’ll someday have that blessed opportunity. And if you already have, please consider sharing with us a memorable Holy Land experience of your own.