Plan a Trip to Israel in Jesus’ Footsteps
When you visit Israel, as a Christian, it is quite surreal to think that you are literally walking on the same ground that Jesus did. Jesus chose this little piece of land to spend His years on earth. In order to bring us salvation, He became fully human and lived a normal life (for the most part) among the Jews.
The Gospels give us a pretty good idea of where He spent His days. Many archeological sites confirm the locations mentioned in the Bible. Today we want to help you plan your next trip to Israel. Let’s focus on two geographical regions where Jesus lived – the Galilee and the Jerusalem area. Of course, there are more than 10 places where Jesus walked in Israel, but we wanted to highlight this set for a reason.
Here are the 10 places we know for a fact where Jesus walked:
Jesus was in the Galilee and Northern Israel:
Nazareth was a small village in Jesus’ day. This was His “boyhood home”, as Luke the evangelist puts it (Luke 4:16). Growing up in Nazareth, Jesus learned carpentry and stonework from His father, Joseph. As an adult, He returns to Nazareth and at the synagogue He confesses to be the fulfillment of the prophet Isaiah’s words: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for He has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come.” (Luke 4:18-19).
Today, Nazareth is a big city where majority of the residents are Muslim. A few impressive Christian churches allow visitors to retrace Biblical stories through the artwork created over centuries.
2. Caesarea Philippi
Caesarea Philippi is located in the country’s highest mountains. It is surrounded by breathtaking nature that you won’t find in other parts of Israel. This is where the disciples got the revelation that Jesus is the Messiah. And Simon was called Peter after recognizing that his Teacher is „the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16). Jesus then added, “upon this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18).
Caesarea Philippi and the area of Tel Dan are impressive sites that are well worth visiting, despite their remote location. The remains of pagan shrines are thousands of years old.
3. Cana of Galilee
We may not know much about Cana, but there was one significant event that took place in this humble Galilean village. Jesus and his family attended a wedding in Cana. We don’t even know who the Groom and the Bride were. What we do know is, when the wine supply had run out, Jesus’ mother brought attention to her son saying, “Do whatever He tells you” (John 2:5). Although at first He said that His time has not yet come, in the end Jesus performed here His first public miracle by turning water into wine.
There were several places named Cana in this region; one of them is Kafr Kana a few miles away from Nazareth. It now boasts several cathedrals, but the importance of this place remains more spiritual than physical: this miracle began Jesus’ supernatural ministry.
No other place (besides Jerusalem) has seen as many miracles and heard as many teachings from Jesus as Capernaum did. This small fishing village was the hometown of Peter, one of Jesus’ closest friends. We know Jesus lived there (Matthew 4:13), taught there and did miracles (Matthew 8:14). He also delivered people (Mark 1:21) and healed both body and spirit of those willing (Mark 2:11). The town of Capernaum must have held a special place in Jesus’ heart.
Capernaum is one of those unique places in the land of Israel that we know the exact location of. And there is still a lot to see at the site today. Ruins of a village from before our era and remnants of a synagogue from the first century will help you imagine what life was like in Jesus’ day.
5. Sea of Galilee
Ok, an entire lake may not be a specific spot, but it definitely is a place where Jesus walked! It was arguably one of his most famous walks, to be honest. Because walking on water is no small deal. See the story described in the Gospel of Matthew 14:22-34. It seems like Jesus enjoyed spending time both on the shores of the lake and on its waters. He often rested on a boat, when He needed to escape the crowds that followed Him and to find some quiet. Even a storm could not steal His peace away. This wonderful body of fresh water continues to be a source of fish and drinking water to the residents of Israel.
Today, the Sea of Galilee is as beautiful as ever. You can go swimming, sailing and even kayaking on the lake. So you can enjoy its splendor in more ways than one.
Jesus was in Jerusalem and Judea:
We do not know if Jesus spent any time in Bethlehem throughout His life, if at all, after being born there. Nevertheless, it was an important town in His family line, as it was the hometown of King David. Mary and Joseph, Jesus’ earthly parents, had to return to Bethlehem to register for a census decreed by Augustus, the Roman Emperor. They did so right in time for Jesus to be born (Luke 2:1-6). Jesus spent the first weeks, possibly months, of His life in this “House of Bread” (the Hebrew meaning of the city’s name), less than 10 miles away from Jerusalem.
The modern-day Bethlehem is very welcoming to tourists; despite being part of the Palestinian Territories that Israeli citizens are banned from entering.The Manger Square, right in front of the Church of the Nativity, remains the city’s central location and most recognizable site.
7. The Jerusalem Temple
The very first time Jesus was in the Temple was just 8 days after His birth. That is because His earthly parents wanted to dedicate Him to God, in accordance to the law (Luke 2:23). The family must have frequented the Temple regularly when Jesus was growing up. In result, at 12 years old He was already debating scholars at this holy place. Years later, He confronted merchants in the courts of the Temple, saying they turned His Father’s House into a den of thieves (Matthew 21:12-13). He cared for this House of God so deeply that He often rested and prayed on the Mount of Olives, which holds the best views of the Temple Mount.
Today the Temple is no more, but you still can visit the Temple Mount. And to join the Jewish people in prayer, you can do so at the Western Wall, right below where the Temple used to stand.
8. Jordan River (by Jericho)
The Jordan River connects the Galilee with Judea and runs right past Jericho. It was most likely by this desert city where John the Baptist called on people to repent and return to God. And this is where Jesus met him. John was called to prepare the way, and in that moment, he recognized the One he was waiting for (John 1:34). Despite John’s hesitancy, Jesus asked to be baptized and many witnessed the most beautiful declaration of Father’s love: “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17).
The baptismal site is very visitor-friendly today, and it is only about an hour drive from Jerusalem. With Jericho on one side, the other bank of the river already belongs to the country of Jordan.
Bethany, located on the eastern side of Mount of Olives, was the hometown of Mary, Martha and Lazarus, close friends of Jesus. These siblings went through a chilling experience when Lazarus passed away, but not long after he was raised from the dead by Jesus (John 11:1-45). It was an astounding moment when everyone saw Jesus’ divine power as the Son of God, and at the same time Jesus showed His humanity, crying with those who mourned. Bethany is also the place from where Jesus ascended into Heaven.
The once small town is now a good size Arab city right outside of Jerusalem. It is a traditional pilgrimage destination that boasts many ancient sites from Jesus’ day.
On one of Jesus’ visits to Jerusalem, He walked past the Bethesda Pools near the Sheep’s Gate (today’s Lions’ Gate). It was a source of water for Jerusalem residents as well as for the Temple. But there was something else that was uniquely special about this basin of water. Occasionally, an angel came down to stir the waters with healing. One man was waiting for his turn to be healed for over 38 years! Jesus saw his anguish and, without setting any conditions, healed him on the spot.
The site of Bethesda, which means House of Grace in Hebrew, is a treat for any fan of antiquity. Parts of the ancient ruins have been discovered as late as 1960s, so it is really exciting that even in modern day we find confirmations of biblical accounts.