With the wave of his hand and his very loud, yet cheerful tone, our Jewish tour guide, Amnon, could gather us all together with one arm in the air and one word…”FRIENDS”! I can still hear him roll the ‘r’ as he called us to follow him. It didn’t take very long for us to feel like we really were friends. As we traveled he would tell us stories associated with the sites and let us know the level of authenticity for specific historical events.
When we visited Israel it was more than a sight-seeing adventure. It was a pilgrimage. Our pastor was with us to help us connect Bible stories to the places we visited. The seaport of Joppa. Mt. Nebo. The Sea of Galilee and the Jordan River. The Via Dolorosa. The Garden Tomb, the Mount of Olives and so much more.
Overlooking the city of Jerusalem I found myself weeping as Amnon talked about his Jewish heritage and turned to us and said, “Welcome home”. I wept at the view of this city that Jesus loved full of people that Jesus wept over in Luke 19.”When Jesus came closer and could see Jerusalem, he cried and said: It is too bad that today your people don’t know what will bring them peace!… because you did not see that God had come to save you.”
It is hard to describe the experience of walking where Jesus walked, reading His Word there, taking it all in. If you have had the opportunity to make this pilgrimage, no doubt, you know exactly what I’m talking about when I say it makes the Bible come to life!
Whether you’ve been to the Holy Land or not, there is One, today, this very minute, who stands with His arm outstretched, calling out “Friends!” with an invitation to come and see. Nothing compares to the pilgrimage that Jesus wants to take us on. Don’t miss the invitation to know His peace and His salvation….and some day His words – welcome home!