ISRAEL: Where HIStory Becomes OUR Story!

My husband Dennis and I just returned from our ninth trip as hosts to the incomparable land of Israel. We first visited this land of ancient history in 1994. Our purpose in journeying there was to visit the earthly homeland of the man who not only changed our lives, but who has changed the lives of billions of people, and the whole culture of relationships in our world.

Baptisms in the Jordan River

Jesus of Nazareth, Israel, a Jew, was born between 6-4 B.C., in Bethlehem, but was raised in the small town of Nazareth. The timeline of his birth is supported by historical accounts that surrounded his birth. 

If one takes the time to study the historical ancient scriptures of the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament), you will find that hundreds of prophesies regarding Jesus’ birth and life were fulfilled by his birth, life, death and resurrection from the dead. 

Jesus was born into a land, culture and time where the Caesar of Rome was in authority. Caesar was worshiped as “God” and was observed as being the source of all “good news” (“The Gospel”).  

But there was no “good news” for many people of that day.  Women and children were viewed as commodities and necessary evils.  They had no real “identity.”  They had no rights.  They were used as a means to an end. Female infants, especially, were often disposed of in deference to male infants.

 There was no good news for persons afflicted with dreaded diseases. They were thrown outside of city limits and could not touch or be touched by anyone.

No good news for slaves…they had no rights.  No good news for the poor, for prisoners…they were all useless.

But one day, Jesus began his ministry by standing in the synagogue of Nazareth and reading the ancient words from the Torah written by the prophet Isaiah, some 400 plus years before.

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.  
Isaiah 61: 1-2

It is written by Jesus’ follower, Luke, that Jesus then told the audience He himself was the fulfillment of those words.  (Luke 4: 16-22 of the New Testament)

Jesus was saying… “The time has come!”  The time has come for the genuine “Good News!”  Not from Caesar, but from the creator God himself.

Staggeringly, Jesus said that the marker of this moment, was his own arrival.  Jesus claimed to be the hinge of history!

Church of the Nativity ~ Bethlehem

From that moment on, Jesus began giving value to women, children, poor, slaves, diseased…anyone who came to him. 

Jesus taught that all were loved and valued by God.  He forgave adulteresses. Jesus valued women as leaders and contributors to society. Jesus paid attention to the poor and sick, reaching out to touch them, and heal them.  Jesus told little children to come to him and spend time with him.  He valued the lunch of a little boy and used it to feed 5,000 men.

Our calendar has never been the same.  Time is marked by his life and death.  Relationships have never been the same.  From the time of Jesus onward, people began to learn a mutual respect and love for each other that had never been considered before.  Doing for others what you want done to you, became the “Golden Rule.”  Author…Jesus. 

It has taken centuries for our world to adopt the foundational concept of loving God and selflessly loving others, being paramount for healthy relationships.  This counter-intuitive concept remains to be grasped in many parts of the world and in many individuals.  But this God-Man impacted human relationships like no one ever before or after him. 

Following the lifestyle and mission of Jesus is what continues to change individuals and continues to impact the world.  When we host others on journeys to the homeland of Jesus, when we walk where he walked, and get a clearer picture of the geography and culture of his time on earth, lives are changed!

His story, not only becomes our story, but also becomes the life story of those who travel with us.  ~ Linda Gingerich

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The next “In the Footsteps of Jesus” tour is scheduled for March 10-19, 2021. More details, a downloadable brochure and a registration link are available HERE.

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