In the past, “next year in Jerusalem” was an expression of the inner longing of Jews to return to Jerusalem after they were scattered because of conquest. Today, however, with the modern nation of Israel, Jews can have a Passover in Jerusalem, the very longing of those in the past. In February, I will actually see the realized longing of the Jews with the modern state of Israel, the hope for a future “Jerusalem” with a rebuilt Temple, and the culture of Jews, Christians, and Muslims converging.
In 10 days, I travel to Israel… it is “this year in Jerusalem” for me. I am so excited I can hardly stand it. Here’s the itinerary after leaving from New York City on February 6:
- Tuesday, February 7. Arrive in Tel Aviv and on route to the hotel, stop at the ancient port city of Joppa to view the home of Simon the Tanner.Orientation that evening.Overnight: Tel Aviv, Israel.
- Wednesday, February 8.Drive north along coastal road to Caesarea where Peter was imprisoned for two years.Drive to Mount Carmel monastery. Lunch at Megiddo before visiting the ancient chariot city of King Solomon.Drive to Mount Tabor where will go to the Church of the Transfiguration. Overnight: Tiberias, Israel.
- Thursday, February 9. Sail across the Sea of Galilee in a wooden replica boat of Jesus’ day. Visit the Mount of Beatitudes, travel to Tabgha where Jesus performed the miracle of the loaves and fish, and then travel to Gergesa where Jesus healed the demon-possessed men and the demons went into the herd of pigs who plunged into the Sea of Galilee. The last stop will be Yardinet, the site of the baptism of Jesus at the Jordan River. Overnight: Tiberias, Israel.
- Friday, February 10. Drive to Cana of Galilee where Jesus performed his first miracle.Continue to Nazareth, the childhood home of Jesus, and then Beith She’an to see archeological excavations. On to Jerusalem for our first view of the “Golden City.”Overnight: Jerusalem.
- Saturday, February 11. Drive to Mount of Olives, visit the Palm Sunday route, the place where “Jesus wept,” the Garden of Gethsemane, and the pool of Siloam. Continue to Bethlehem for lunch and the Shepherd’s field. Overnight: Jerusalem.
- Sunday, February 12. Day at leisure to visit any number of churches and sites. Overnight: Jerusalem.
- Monday, February 13. Visit the Western Wall (“wailing wall”), St. Stephen’s Gate where Stephen was martyred, the Pool of Bethesda, and follow Jesus’ steps on the “way of sorrow” on his way to crucifixion. We will also visit the upper room where Jesus had the Last Supper and the place where Peter denied Jesus three times. Overnight: Jerusalem.
- Tuesday, February 14 (Valentine’s Day). Drive to the Dead Sea, the lowest point on earth, and then to Massada. Continue to the Qumran Caves where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found.Overnight: Jerusalem.
- Wednesday, February 15.Drive to the Israel Museum to see the Shrine of the Book and scale model of the Old City during the Second Temple period. Proceed to the Yad Vashem memorial to the six million Jewish martyrs of World War Two. The last stop is the Garden Tomb for a visit followed by communion.
- Thursday - Saturday, February 16-18. Arrive to JFK airport in New York City. My friend Pastor Won Tae Cho will pick me up from the airport and I will spend Thursday and Friday with him. I fly back home on Saturday evening.
- Sunday, February 19. Back at St. Andrews after the trip of a lifetime.
After all of these years I have loved and served Jesus, I now get to walk on the streets where he walked and stand in the places where stories that have captivate my imagination for years took place. It is just amazing.