The Holy Land.
For years I’ve had only one significant item on my bucket list–apart from seeing all my children working well, married well and making good choices. That was to go to Israel. The place where the crux of history continues to happen after thousands of years. And right before Holy Week, we were able to go.
We rode in a boat on the Sea of Galilee where Jesus walked on water to the disciples. We walked in Capernaum where Jesus entered the synagogue and read Isaiah 61:1-2a, telling the listeners that this prophecy had been fulfilled in their hearing that day. We saw the place near Bethsaida where Jesus fed the 5,000 men plus women and children. And we saw the place at Golgotha where He gave up His life so that we may live.
What made it beyond remarkable was being there right before Passover and Easter, key celebrations for those of the Jewish faith and for followers of Christ. It provided solid context, physical proof, for what I have been taught and have believed for many years. It was history handing me the palette I need to put the brilliant brushstrokes to my faith.
But it was even more. It was feeling the tension from the many religious groups, each claiming this area as their holy place, each wanting to make it unique to them. It was seeing soldiers with guns from both sides, realizing that peace here and now is tenuous. It was walking through a check point and metal detectors to be able to see the Temple Mount and Dome of the Rock, two sites silently waging their their own war of presence. It was seeing people from many faiths wanting to believe they were the ones that got it right.
But in the midst of all of this, one fact stood out clearly. There has only been One who has ever claimed deity, One who has known life with no sin, One who has loved mankind enough to die in our place and have the credentials to do it.
When everything is considered, no one else offers complete forgiveness and an assurance of heaven except Jesus. No one else cares as tenderly for those who choose to follow Him as Jesus does. No one else bases their message on grace and mercy as Jesus does. And no one offers eternal hope as Jesus does.
When her brother had been dead and in the grave for four days, Martha told Jesus Lazarus wouldn’t have died if He had been there. “Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?’” John 11:25-26
The Holy Land is a remarkable place, but what’s at the core of its significance is the Savior who couldn’t be kept in the grave.
Do you believe this?