7 Key Sites to Follow Jesus’ Footsteps Through Israel
There are few things as sacred and transformative for believers as to visit Israel and walk where Jesus walked, pray where He prayed, and to read His words where they were spoken. Christian travelers who make a spiritual pilgrimage to the Holy Land usually describe it as one of the most significant experiences of their lives, and we’re confident you will too.
Whether you are dreaming of visiting Israel one day, or already have an Israel tour on your calendar, there are few better ways to prepare than by immersing yourself in Scripture. We’ve compiled these verses from the ministry of Jesus for you to prayerfully read during your times of personal Bible study.
They will prepare your heart to discover the life-impacting encounters that await you at these 7 biblically significant sites from Jesus’ life and ministry in Israel.
‘Can anything good come out of Nazareth?’ The adage, popular in Jesus’ day, now has an emphatic answer: Yes! Often referred to as ‘Jesus the Nazarene’, the Savior of the world came from this tiny town, forever putting it on the map.
[caption id="attachment_9169" align="aligncenter" width="610"] Nazareth Village brings the first-century to life[/caption]
Begin to study Jesus’ life on earth in the very place he grew up—a secluded agrarian village not known for anything (or anything good for that matter). When you visit Israel, you can walk through a town almost identical to the one Jesus called home thanks to Nazareth Village. This includes a first-century farm, synagogue, authentic wine press, archaeological finds and historical reenactors bringing all these scenes to life. To be able to see firsthand the same sights Jesus used as reference points to base His parables and sermons on will prove invaluable to your understanding of Scripture.
2) Sea of Galilee
This picturesque body of water served as the backdrop for many interactions and miracles throughout the life of Jesus. It was here that He initiated relationships with many of His disciples, calling them to follow Him, and it was here that He chose to present Himself to them after His Resurrection.
[caption id="attachment_9173" align="aligncenter" width="610"] Christian travelers on a Sea of Galilee boat ride[/caption]
Even in the twenty-first century, Galilee has managed to maintain a sense of serenity. As you walk the shores of this hallowed lake, your feet may touch the very waters Jesus walked on. Be sure to bring your Bible and enjoy quiet time, listening for His voice to speak to you today. Your boat ride, taking you out on the water, will allow you to hear a message from Scripture and worship in an unforgettable setting, as you spend time in the region where Jesus spent most of His time on earth.
3) Mount of Beatitudes
Some of Jesus’ most famous words were uttered on the Mount of Beatitudes, where He delivered His best-known sermon. Revered the world over, it gives His followers a new way of looking at life—one that turns everything upside down by its humility, simplicity and paradoxical strength.
[caption id="attachment_9174" align="aligncenter" width="610"] Max Lucado teaching on the Mount of Beatitudes[/caption]
Here, you will be in a pastoral setting overlooking sparkling, tranquil waters. You’ll experience the power of natural acoustics, which would have carried Jesus’ voice to the thousands who came to hear Him teach. Are you ready to hear a sermon on the Beatitudes in the very place it was first preached? Experiences like these don’t come along often—we encourage you to prepare your heart by meditating on these Scriptures beforehand.
4) Western Wall and Southern Steps
Praying at the Western Wall is a powerful experience that links you shoulder-to-shoulder and heart-to-heart with the Jewish people, who pray here daily. One of the most iconic sites in all of Israel, it is a favorite among Christian pilgrims who travel to the Holy Land desiring a closer walk with their Lord.
[caption id="attachment_9175" align="aligncenter" width="610"] People praying at the Temple Mount Wall (Western Wall)[/caption]
The wall remains the only one standing from the iconic Second Temple, where Jesus was presented as an infant and prophesied over by Simeon and Anna, and where His family likely celebrated Passover. It also stood overlooking His display of righteous anger while driving out the moneychangers at the end of His life.
[caption id="attachment_9176" align="aligncenter" width="610"] The southwest corner of the Temple Mount Wall[/caption]
Nearby, the Southern Steps to the Temple, excavated less than a century ago, are one of the architectural features on earth that we know, with certainty, Jesus would have touched. What a milestone moment for those who know what it is to have been touched by His saving grace!
5) Garden of Gethsemane
Enter into one of the most significant moments in Jesus’ life: the hours He spent praying before going to the cross for each of us. The events of that night are recorded in great detail, including His time in this garden with His disciples.
[caption id="attachment_9177" align="aligncenter" width="610"] Christian travelers strolling through the Garden of Gethsemane[/caption]
Gethsemane means oil press, leading scholars to believe these blood-soaked prayers were prayed among a grove of olive trees. Today, in the same place, you can kneel and pray beside the gnarled branches of olive trees, among the oldest in the world. What a privilege to spend time in the Garden of Gethsemane—where Jesus spent some of His last moments on earth.
6) Garden Tomb
Prepare to recreate the experience you’ve always imagined yourself in as one of Jesus’ disciples: finding Him alive and well after having been crucified on Calvary. Stepping foot in the Garden Tomb allows you to do just that. This ancient tomb is cut into the rock surrounding Jerusalem and offers an example of the tomb where Jesus’ body was temporarily laid millennia ago.
[caption id="attachment_9178" align="aligncenter" width="610"] The garden tomb[/caption]
Wander through the delightful garden. Take communion in this sacred spot. Step inside the tomb as Christians worldwide have on their journey of following Jesus. You will discover, as Peter and John did, the most significant fact in human history: the tomb is empty. “He is not here; he has risen, just as he said,” (Matthew 28:6).
7) Mount of Olives
This iconic mountain range, central to the life of Christ, also featured prominently in Old Testament prophecy and events. The Prophet Zechariah mentions the Mount of Olives, and King David sought God here while fleeing from Saul. Jesus and His disciples often spent time here, as you will on your Christian tour of Israel.
[caption id="attachment_9179" align="aligncenter" width="610"] Christian travelers overlooking the city of Jerusalem[/caption]
One special distinction the Mount of Olives can claim is that of being the last place Jesus stood on the earth. It was from here that He ascended into Heaven while giving the Great Commission to His disciples of that day and today. This monumental site serves as the perfect climax to following the footsteps of Jesus through Israel.
Using these verses as a study guide, prepare your heart for all God has in store for you in the land of Israel. Your journey with Jesus will be powerfully informed as you journey through the Holy Land, seeking Him every step of the way.
Which site from Jesus’ life are you most looking forward to experiencing?