|Holy Land Scripture Discovery Tour|
|Written by Dr. L. Dean Marriott, Tour Director|
|Tuesday, 31 May 2011 08:54|
Our tour itineraries follow the same order of scripture events in Jesus’ Life from his birth in a stable at Bethlehem to his Resurrection at the Garden Tomb in Jerusalem. “Seeing Israel in the same chronology as the scriptures made things far more understandable for me” (Leslie Speed 2011).
At Bethlehem, the busy streets and crowded shops of Manger Square reminded us of the difficult journey of Jesus and Mary only to find “no room at the inn”. Beneath the Church of Nativity, we entered “Jerome’s” cave of which Pres. Lee said, “There seemed to be in this place a kind of spiritual assurance that this was indeed a hollowed spot”. There as we sang, Away in the Manger, “I felt a spiritual connection and could visualize Mary with baby Jesus in her arms, surrounded by animals and shepherds” (Launa Butler 2011).
Next at Nazareth Village we visited an authentic recreation of how Jesus would have lived, worked and worshipped. “Watching a man dressed in 1st century clothing, with tools in hand, crafting an object at the carpenters shop provided me with a mental image of Jesus’ working and living during His early life in Nazareth with his family” (Gordon Jones 2002). After leaving Nazareth at age 30 Jesus went to the river Jordon. At Yardenet, we saw large groups of Christians being baptized, “This setting helped me understand the religious intensity that may have existed around John and Jesus at His baptism so very long ago” (Dusty Jensen 2004).
Next we see remains of many villages around the Sea of Galilee including Capernaum. Here Jesus lived among his Apostles for most of his 3 year ministry of “preaching, teaching and healing”. At the place thought to be Peter’s house, “I was moved by the telling of the healing of the man lowered through the roof and Jesus’ saying, ‘thy sins be forgiven thee… take up thy bed and walk” (thanks dad, John Marriott 2000). Our stay at Kibbutz Ma’Agan at waters edge provides the perfect setting on the Sea of Galilee to reflect on how Jesus loved those people as manifested by his many teachings and blessing. Leaving Galilee we journey down the Jordon valley to the Dead Sea. Visiting the ruins at Bet Shean, Jericho, Qumran and Masada we are reminded that trusting in the Walls of Worldliness to save us instead of having faith in God will lead to eventual destruction.
At Jerusalem we stay within the walls of the old city for several nights. This allows us to follow each day in Jesus’ footsteps as he experienced the final week of his life. We begin by descending the Mt. of Olives to the Temple mount as he did on His Triumphal Entry into the Temple and by tracing his steps to the Last Supper and Gethsemane (see itinerary for details). “As we sat on the step of Caiaphas’ Palace a rooster crowed, bringing to life Peter’s denial, remorse then recommitment. I felt a kinship to Peter as I reflected on my own journey through life” (Dennis 2005).
On Friday we follow Jesus’ Friday from trials to conviction and execution at Golgotha. Early Saturday we quietly listen to Elder Holland’s conference address “You are Not Alone” as we sit at the Garden Tomb and reflect on the Savior, his life, ministry, atonement and resurrection. “With tears in my eyes I entered the tomb alone to think of the Savior. There I felt as though his arms were around me to make everything okay” (11 yr. old Kieffer 2009). We end our tour by worshipping at the BYU, Jerusalem Center.