May 1995 – I traveled recently on a 10-day trip to Greece and Israel with a group led by my dad. Many people don’t know that dad used to lead trips to the Holy Land twice a year before he started American Family Association. This was his 19th tour.
It was a great trip as the Bible came to life. We toured Athens and Corinth. We went to Mount Carmel, Nazareth and the Jordan River. We took a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee, we saw where Jesus preached the Sermon on the Mount and where he fed the five thousand. We then went on to Jericho and up to Jerusalem where we spent four nights.
We went to Bethlehem before going to the Garden of Gethsemane, Calvary and the Garden Tomb. We saw the Mount of Olives, the Temple Mount, the Dead Sea and many, many other sights – too many to mention in this column.
Indeed it is one thing to read stories from the scripture but it’s another to walk where Jesus walked. And I do mean literally. In Jerusalem we followed the exact route Jesus walked the night of his betrayal when he was led to appear before the religious leaders.
Many places we visited were interesting from a historical perspective. But some places, for the sinner saved by grace, caused tears to well up and a lump in the throat. For me, one of the those places was the Church of the Beatitudes overlooking the Sea of Galilee. I was the last tourist to return to the bus. To look out over the grassy field by the water and imagine Jesus surrounded by all those people who loved him and whom he loved was an awesome experience. I thought about those who had gathered with the Lord, those whom He had healed from sickness and disease. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, lived and taught some 2,000 years ago in the very place I was standing. He taught:
“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.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.
“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad , because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
If you are a fellow Christian pilgrim, I hope you too can one day journey across the Atlantic and visit the Holy Land.