The Bible is full of rich geography that tells us about the places Jesus walked. Following the Messiah has, in part, been about going to these special places.
We’ve had so many of you ask us, “What places did you visit to complete the series?” We love getting this question and we could talk for hours on the subject because there are so many rich sites to see in Israel surrounding Jesus’ ministry, death, burial, and resurrection. Here are just a few of the more than two dozen places we visited for Following the Messiah.
Deep in the Jordan Rift Valley is the Biblical city of Shechem. It’s near this location that we read about Jacob buying land and pitching his tent (Genesis 33:18-20). Jacob also dug a well on this site and we read that this well was very deep. This is also the spot where Jesus met a Samaritan woman and had a life-changing conversation about water that will quench thirst forever (John 4:3-6). The AM team visited this site for episode seven when we talk about Jesus’ teachings.
Tomb of Lazarus:
We know in scripture Jesus had a close relationship with Lazarus and his two sisters, Mary and Martha (John 11:5). When Lazarus became sick and died Jesus performed a miracle that served as an interesting foreshadowing of his own death and resurrection. This miracle happened in the town of Bethany, which is located just a couple miles from Jerusalem. While we can’t be certain which tomb Lazarus was buried, archaeologists have dated the caves in this area, which were used for burial, back to the 1st century.
Garden of Gethsemane:
This site is a must-see for Following the Messiah because of the weight it carries as the location of Jesus’ fervent prayer – before the mob, led by Judas Iscariot, came to arrest Jesus (Matthew 26:36, Mark 14:32, Luke 22:39, John 18:1). The Garden of Gethsemane isn’t a very large space, perhaps only the size of a couple football fields, but we can pinpoint through all four Gospel accounts this was the location Jesus came with his disciples to pray before he was led away and ultimately put to death. The garden is actually a grove of olive trees, some of which arborists have dated to be around 2,000 years old. We spent time here for episode eight as we talk about the hours leading up to his arrest and trial.
Church of the Holy Sepulchre:
This church sits on the traditional location of Golgotha, the area where Jesus was crucified. The Gospel accounts and Hebrews tell us the site was outside the city walls and was accessible to people passing by. While we have an accurate description of the location we can’t be certain where within this church the cross would have stood. However, we can say with reasonable certainty Jesus would have been crucified somewhere close by. This will be a powerful and emotional location to visit as we work to bring perspective to Jesus’ final hours, on the cross, which is so vividly described in scripture. This location was featured in episode nine of the series.
These four locations are just a small sampling of what we’ve captured for the second half of the Following the Messiah series. We’ve also shared many behind-the-scenes clips and photos from the sites throughout the time we’re in Israel.