Destination Spotlight: Caesarea Philippi, a favorite place
The members of the group were rightly impressed with the onion domed churches of Moscow and the Pyramids of Giza, but for everyone, Israel was the highlight of the tour. On our final night in Jerusalem, everyone gave testimony on the impact of the tour. Of course, most of them stated that it was the highlight of their lives.
“Here indeed is a dramatic picture. Here is a homeless, penniless Galilean carpenter, with twelve very ordinary men around him. At the moment the orthodox are actually plotting and planning to destroy him as a dangerous heretic.
He stands in an area littered with the temples of the Syrian gods; in a place where the ancient Greek gods looked down; in a place where the history of Israel crowded in upon the minds of men; where the white marble splendor of the home of Caesar–worship dominated the landscape and compelled the eye.
And there–of all places–this amazing carpenter stands and asks men who they believe him to be, and expects the answer, The Son of God. It is as if Jesus deliberately set himself against the background of the world’s religions in all their history and their splendor, and demanded to be compared with them and to have the verdict given in his favor. There are few scenes where Jesus’ consciousness of his own divinity shines out with a more dazzling light.”
Being there and seeing but a few of the remains of those temples and realizing this is where Jesus asked that question is powerful beyond words. This is just an example of how being in the very places where Jesus walked draws us into those very moments of his ministry in a new and powerful way. We say it brings the Bible from black and white to color and 3 dimensional.
Harry’s story explains but one experience of how throughout Israel we draw upon scriptures to add meaning to each site we visit. Not only does that occur in a powerful way at the moment of visiting those sites but also it will occur for the rest of our lives. Every time we study scripture at home; hear sermons; or reflect on our faith we will think back to the experience of visiting the Holyland.
Of course, our feelings about a place have a lot to do with our experiences there and how we connect. For some, it comes from a boat trip on the Sea of Galilee or baptism in the Jordan River. Others connect with Cana, the site of Jesus’ first miracle. Jerusalem is certainly moving for all who pass through its gates. Many walk the Via Dolorosa, visit the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, pray in the Garden Tomb. In all of these places, the Bible comes alive to us.
Not all we encounter is thousands of years old. Israel is one of the most modern and progressive countries in the world. This tiny country is a leader in the world in medical science. They have transformed deserts into farms, vineyards, and citrus groves, growing organic fruits and vegetables to a point where Israel is a major exporter of food. You can stay in modern hotels and travel on modern highways and railway systems. It is certainly a land of contrasts: ancient and modern.
Nicholas Mancino has been serving the church through travel for over 50 years, having begun his ministry in travel in the 1960s. He is the cofounder and president of Journeys Unlimited, where he’s helped thousands of fellow Christians encounter the Spirit and bask in Christian fellowship while traveling to the Holy Land and beyond. You can reach Nick with your inquiries by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 800-486-8359
In the holy land, where every stone has a story to tell, we take a break on the road to Jerusalem and explore what daily life in the time of Christ was like:
The rock-hewn churches of Lalibela; St. Mary’s church where the Ark of the Covenant is believed to lie; the castles of Gondar; the monasteries of Bahir Dar; these few highlights barely scratch the surface of the immense hidden treasure trove waiting to be explore.
The area around the Sea of Galilee is rich in biblical sites. One site that no visitor should miss is Cana.
Though it may not be considered a wealthy nation by economic standards, Ethiopia is a land immensely rich culture and heritage. The country is old beyond imagination, home of “Lucy” the 3 million years old human ancestor, but it also offers modern conveniences for visitors.