This blog post it’s a continuation of Jerusalem: walking on the footsteps of Jesus Christ so if you haven’t had the chance to read that one yet I would strongly suggest you do so as it describes places and event of the day of crucification and resurrection.
In this travel story I will cover the adult life of Jesus and the miracles performed in Nazareth, Capernaum, Cana Galilee and the sea of Galilee as well as the baptism sites alongside Jordan river.
These important places can be visited in a single day by purchasing a bus excursion from Tel Aviv. Like usually I have booked my experience through Viator due to their convenient cancellation policy and their handpicked travel agents and I wasn’t disappointed.
Our tour guide, Haya and our driver Moses welcomed us with a smily face and a “Shabbat Shalom”, a greeting used by the jewish people on their holy rest day, day that starts on Friday evening and finish on Saturday evening. During this time the jews will refrain from their regular activities, the shops, restaurants and other comercial or entertainment places shut down and the families are gathering together under one roof. It is recommended to plan your holiday in such a way that you won’t arrive or depart the country during Shabbat as public transportation and taxi services schedule will also differ.
Nazareth-the church of annunciationMary receives the news of pregnancy and the place where Jesus will spend his adult life
Our first stop was Nazareth and the Church of Annunciation where the Angel Gavril brought to Mary the great news: she was to give birth to Messiah even though she was a virgin.
The church was built over the ancient house of Mary and Joseph, the access inside the stone house itself not being possible. The iron fence might prevent the believers from entering but it won’t keep the prayers away, especially for the ones wishing for a child.
The newly constructed church it’s dedicated to Mary, reason why every christian church around the world have donated a beautiful painting of the virgin and the baby Jesus representing the original way in which each nationality are imagining holy figures.
Click on each picture to enlarge
The most precious icon it’s determined to be the ones of Japan, where an asian Virgin and her child are wearing a beautiful robe decorated with pearls. My personal favorite it’s the one of Indonesia while the least favorite it’s the one of USA which depict a view of the Virgin more suitable for a Hollywood scene than a biblical one.
Capernaum-the town of JesusWhere most of the miracles took place
We leave Nazareth behind driving towards Capernaum also called the Town of Jesus, this belonging to the area where most of His miracles were performed: changing the water into wine (Cana Galilee), feeding 5000 people with two fish and 5 breads (Tabgha), curing Peter’s mother in law and other people in need, multiplying the fish in the sea in order to fill Peter’s boat and help him pay his debts with the romans, walking on the Sea of Galilee etc. All those beautiful events can be found in the New Testament in a collection of writings by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John and are the base of the Christianity faith.
Why Jesus choose Capernaum to perform those miracle and why he hand picked five of his apostles from here? The ruins of the old inhabited town and the majestic temple stand proof of a high quality lifestyle and people who decided to follow Jesus in his three and a half years of ministry were people with a lot to lose when it comes to earthly existence. That makes one wonder how many of us would be capable of leaving a lavish lifestyle behind for an existence in which our only treasure would be God Himself.
The town of Capernaum it’s decorated with few beautiful statues, one of Peter illustrating him as the gatekeeper of the Heaven and the fisher of men and my personal favorite of a homeless Jesus sleeping on a bench in a park. Jesus never owned a house or had any other possession and he teach his disciples the same: “Take nothing for the journey-no stuff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra tunic. Whatever house you enter stay there until you leave that town”. Jesus statue in Capernaum represent any men in need and the mercy shown upon him by the passers by. When you do good for other you do good to God Himself.
Advice: don’t leave the Nazareth area without a bottle of Cana wine, Cana being the town where Jesus has turned the water into wine, his first public miracle. Try Tilapia, the local fish that it’s also known as Saint Peter’s fish and was multiplies by Jesus twice in order to feed the crowd of thousands of people who were coming to hear His preaching.
The Jordan riverThe place where Jesus was baptized by John the baptist
At first, I wasn’t aware that Jordan river will be part of the itinerary but I received the news with great joy, this being my third visit to the place where John was baptizing believers in the name of God and where Jesus itself was baptized. Hundreds of believers are visiting this holy site every day and many of them choose to perform the sacred ritual of baptism.
White robes can be rented or purchased at the counter together with a certificate of baptism.
Before entering the site, our tour guide Haya made us chant a verse from Bible describing the voice of God coming from the heaven during Jesus baptism. Haya wasn’t happy with our performance and she made us sing it all over again, showing once again her skills as formar school teacher.
Once inside, I had the great pleasure of taking few pictures of a mix couple of German and Israeli nationals purifying their body and soul in the Jordan river and the joy on their face doesn’t need any explanation.
The ceremony can be perform with or without a priest and since Christians are baptized when they are newly born, a second official baptism wouldn’t be allowed, therefore a symbolic one will be perform by submerging yourself in the cold waters of Jordan river.
Final conclusion: I highly recommend this day trip as it covers important biblical sites that one could only dream about while reading the holy books of christianity. Seeing with your own eyes places where miracles were performed and stepping on the ancient ground where once Jesus stood can only reinforce your faith or even built it from the scratch if you never had one.