What a dynamite trip, but let me warn you: It is not for the faint of heart–or the faint of foot or the faint of back muscles, or the faint of any other muscle you can imagine. We’ve trekked up hills, down hills, over stony paths, climbed scores of steps . . . and even sat one out, when we would have descended 170 steps and climbed out 100 steps . . .something like that! We boarded the bus around 8:30 on Friday morning and it was 5:10 in the evening when we arrived in Jerusalem, which is about 120 miles from Tiberias, and parked in front of the Olive Tree Hotel. Dinner would be served at 6:00. “Locate your luggage in the lobby, place stickers on them, and the bellhop will deliver them to your room.” But our precious friend Patrick Garrett thought that would take too long. “I’ll take your pieces to your room.” And he grabbed someone to help him, but there were masses of people waiting for elevators, so they took off up the stairs, suitcases in hand. Our room was on the 8th floor. I suspect he was near a pant when he set down those bags.
It had been an exciting day that had included a visit to Nazareth where a Christian association has replicated life as it would have been in the boyhood of Jesus. Peopled by those in first century clothing, a carpenter’s and a weaver’s shop with on-going demonstrations–among others–enveloped me in its charm and authenticity. Sheep roamed and shepherds stood about. A working press had produced olive oil a few days before.
A simple synagogue with simple stone pillars had been erected. In such a place Jesus would have been taken to as a child . . . and He grew . . . and then the people were astonished at His sayings . . .and they wondered. . .”Can anything good come . . .?” I was struck at that moment by the reality of Jesus and His story. He really did live here. He played on these paths, and ate supper with Mary and Joseph and with his siblings, and of a certainty Mary continued to ponder it all, and at night on their mats she and Joseph must have had some interesting discussions. I placed my feet in spots, where no doubt our mighty God had walked. Incredible.