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My trip to the Holy Land

By Clint McBroom

This is Clint McBroom from First Methodist of Tallassee. I just came back to Tallassee from a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, and I'd like to share some about my journey and the biblical sites that I saw.

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The Sea of Galilee

Sea of Galilee

We arrived late Wednesday night at our hotel in the town of Tiberias on the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee. You can see the view from my balcony as the sun was coming up on Thursday morning.

The Sea of Galilee is actually a freshwater lake. Seas, by definition, are made up of salt water. This is why at times in the New Testament; it is referred to as the Lake of Gennesaret (Luke 5:1) or the Sea of Tiberias (John 6:1).

The Gospel writers referred to it as the Sea of Galilee to emphasize how Jesus is the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy about the Messiah (Isaiah 9:1).

Most of Jesus’ ministry was centered on and around the Sea of Galilee, in towns like Cana, Capernaum, and the cities of the Decapolis.

The Mount of Beatitudes

Next we visited the Mount of Beatitudes, the traditional location where Jesus taught the Sermon on the Mount. There is a Franciscan church on the traditional site. The top of the hill does offer great acoustics, and a single speaker could be heard by thousands, which is why many believe this could be where Jesus gave his famous sermon.

The Church of Peter’s Primacy

Next we visited the Church of Peter’s Primacy, which was built on the traditional site where Jesus reinstated Peter (John 21:15-19). While we were here, several groups from other countries were having worship, and we heard hymns and worship in many different languages.

Peter’s home in Capernaum

Next we visited Capernaum, which functioned as Jesus’ base of operations. There is a church where Peter’s mother-in-law’s house was. This is the home where Jesus was teaching, and a paralytic was lowered through the roof. You can see the excavation of the home here, and imagine the man being lowered down from above.

Herod's Theater

Caesarea National Park

Friday morning began with a visit to Caesarea National Park. This was the site of Herod’s great palace and man-made port that he built for his patron Augustus Caesar (hence its name) in 30 BC. The new city was built by Herod in only twelve years, which was lightning fast in ancient times.

This was where the apostle Paul was imprisoned for two years before he began his trip to Rome (Acts 23-26).

Here you can see where Herod’s Theater has been excavated, and it is actually being used for productions!

Megiddo National Park

Next we visited another national park, the site of Megiddo. Megiddo was one of the oldest settlements in the world. There are signs of human habitation there going back 6,000 years, and at least 20 cities have been built there.

Megiddo was built on a hill overlooking the main road running north and south through Canaan (the Via Maris). It is the location of the first major battle record in history, between the Egyptian pharaoh Thutmose and the Canaanite occupants in 1468 BC.

Megiddo was one of the cities that the Israelites failed to conquer during the time of Joshua, but it was later taken by David and then fortified by Solomon.

There have been so many battles fought here that John envisioned the last battle between God and the forces of darkness would happen here, and would be called Armageddon.

From the top of Megiddo, you can see many notable Old Testament sites, such as Mount Carmel, where Elijah defeated the prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18), Mount Tabor, where Deborah gathered the troops of Israel (Judges 4-5), and the Valley of Jezreel, where Jezebel was killed by Jehu (2 Kings 9).

Nazareth and the Basilica of the Annunciation

Finally, we visited Nazareth, the hometown of Jesus, and saw the Basilica of the Annunciation, built over the site of Mary’s childhood home, and the home of Mary at the time of Jesus’ death and resurrection, and the traditional site where the angel Gabriel told Mary that she would be the mother of the Messiah. On the lowest level is a grotto where Mary encountered the angel.

Annunciation Grotto

The Valley of the Wind and the Doves

On Saturday morning, we visited the ancient road from Nazareth to Galilee, called the Valley of the Wind and the Doves. Jesus likely traveled this road numerous times during his childhood and during his ministry.


We then traveled north to the site of the ancient city of Jericho, the one that Joshua and Israelites marched around until the walls fell down. It is on a Tel (an artificial hill) just like Tel Megiddo, and it actually had two walls, a taller inner wall, and a shorter outer wall. There is archeological evidence that the inner wall crumbled and fell into the outer wall, causing it to collapse as well. I wonder what could have been the cause? (See Joshua 6)

From the top of Tel Jericho, you can see the Mount of Temptation, the traditional site where Jesus was tempted by the devil, as well as the hill country of Judea, where Mary visited her relative Elizabeth.

The Mount of Olives

Sunday morning began at the top of the Mount of Olives, where Jesus began his triumphal entry into Jerusalem, proclaiming himself the Messiah. As we descended the mountain on the same path that Jesus took, it was easy to see why Jesus’ entry caused such a stir in Jerusalem: you can see any procession down the Mount of Olives very easily from the city.

Toward the bottom, we visited the Garden of Gethsemane, where there is a church on the site where Jesus prayed that the cup of his passion and death might pass from him, yet also prayed, “Not my will, but Yours be done.” In the grove is an olive tree that is 2,000 years old, and was likely a sapling when Jesus was praying in that spot.

Bethlehem and the Church of the Nativity

Birthplace of Jesus

On Sunday afternoon we visited the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. This is the site where Jesus was born and also raised for the first two to three years of his life.

I had always assumed that it was unlikely that anyone could have known the actual location in Bethlehem where Jesus was born, but I learned that as early as 130 AD this site was well known in Bethlehem as the place where Jesus was born. It was almost certainly a family home owned by Joseph’s family. An interesting side note is that in 614 AD, Persian raiders came to destroy the site as well as other religious shrines, but when they arrived at the church, found signs of the magi, the wise men who brought gold, frankincense, and myrrh to Jesus. Those magi were Persian, and so the raiders decided not to destroy the church.

The Church of the Holy Sepulcher

On Monday we finally entered old Jerusalem, and visited the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, which was built on the site where Jesus was crucified and buried. I noticed that the site of Joseph of Arimathea’s tomb, where Jesus was buried and raised, was very close to Calvary where he was crucified. So when John writes “at the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid” he wasn’t kidding!

On the top floor of the church is an altar, with a hole in the ground, and pilgrims will reach in the hole and touch the top of Calvary, where Jesus’ cross was placed.

Church of the Holy Sepulcher