They came in droves. Buses from every tour group in the area. Languages of all kinds. People from a variety of countries.
We have a few days in Israel before we need to work again. We’ve taken a tour to see sites that many people only hear–or dream–about. I’ve been here once before, but it’s a country that constantly captures my heart and my imagination.
When our tour bus pulled into the parking lot of the Church of the Beatitudes, an area close to where Jesus preached the Sermon on the Mount, I was stunned to see how many buses were there. (Best bus drivers in the world must live here–these guys were magicians at maneuvering those big guys.) So many people, groups from all over the world being led by tour guides holding little-colored flags. (Confusing colors or losing sight of a flag was hazardous. I lost sight of our guide for a short while by taking too long to look at a relic, and when I looked up, everyone had moved on. Those folks move fast when they’re on a mission.)
It was that way at every site we visited. The Sea of Galilee with the 2,000-year-old fishing boat found in 1986. Magdala, the ancient city of Mary Magdalene discovered in 2009. Capernaum, where Peter’s mother-in-law was healed by Jesus. Every ancient synagogue, every uncovered archaeological dig had drawn crowds that were bigger than any historical site I’ve ever visited.
In a world where the truth of Jesus has brought annoyance, antagonism, and anger among many, I wondered why so many would be so eager to visit the places He once had been. The spaces He walked on this earth.
It’s more than curiosity.
I think people want to believe everything about Him is true. That He was all He said He was–Messiah, Savior, Redeemer. One who loves unconditionally and forgives whole-heartedly. The only true source of shalom–peace and wholeness–in this world.
Because people want–and need–to be loved and forgiven.
I waded into the Sea of Galilee, remembering how the disciples were afraid when Jesus came to them in the middle of a storm, walking on water. (Couldn’t walk on it–almost sat in it.) They thought He was a ghost. They couldn’t believe what their eyes were telling them–that this Man they’d chosen to follow was more than they bargained for.
People today don’t want to deal with a God they can’t control. With a Savior that only asks that we receive a gift of life from Him. They want Him to prove that He can–and will–do what they demand. Seeing is believing, right?
I was one of those people. I thought God was a genie in a bottle, willing to do what I wished for.
I hadn’t expected a God who wanted a relationship with me. One who was more than I expected.
Exactly what I needed.
Curiosity causes people to look. To wonder. To question.
Pursuing the truth?
It takes courage to ask the best question.
Why not Jesus?