Module 5 – Google Maps Tour of the Bible by Johann Quisumbing
In module 5, we will visit the Bible sites of where Jesus Christ walked during His first 2 years of His ministry. Now, the Son of God covered a lot of ground.
1 – Start of His Ministry
God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom He also made the world. (Hebrews 1:1,2)
The prophets said He was coming… and it was to a prophet that He made Himself known. So, we go to a place where the Prophet John the Baptist was crying out loud saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 3:2)
Click LINK 1 – JORDAN RIVER
You are virtually standing on the eastern bank of the Jordan River. On this side as well as the more modern looking site across the river is the traditional site of the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist which is about 6 miles east from Jericho.
For 400 years, the Israelites have not heard from God. For 400 years, they had to contend with the conquests of the Persians, the Greeks and now… the Romans. Then, a voice of one calling out in the wilderness (Matthew 3:3) made his appearance dressed like another prophet-of-old (who was Elijah). Jews from all over came to the Jordan River to see the wonder of God’s latest messenger. But little that they knew, One among them was the Messiah himself. He looked quite ordinary, like someone you’d not even notice.
…He has no stately form or majesty That we should look upon Him, Nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him. Isaiah 53:2
He came from Galilee… from Nazareth, to be exact. Why was He here? To be baptized like everyone else? Well, not exactly…
Why did Jesus, the Son of God, need to be baptized?
John the Baptist asked the same question. “I have the need to be baptized by You, and yet You are coming to me?” (3:14)
Jesus responded, “…it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” (3:15)
Righteousness? The ‘righteousness’ He spoke of was that John had to witness what came next.
After He was baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and settling on Him, and behold, a voice from the heavens said, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” (3:16-17)
After that, Jesus entered the…
Click LINK 2 – JUDAEAN WILDERNESS
The Judaean Wilderness or the Judaean Desert stretches from the northeastern Negev to the east of Beit El (Bethel), and is marked by natural terraces with escarpments. It ends in a steep escarpment dropping to the Dead Sea and the Jordan Valley. This particular canyon is about 11 miles from where Jesus was baptized. Now, I’m not saying that our Lord was here. But it does give us an idea of the environment that Jesus was in when he was tempted by the devil. You can read the entire story in Matthew 4:1-11 and Luke 4:1-13.
After that time of temptation, Jesus went north. Why north? Why not straight to Jerusalem first? The answer is, He’s following God’s plan.
In earlier times He treated the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali with contempt, but later on He will make it glorious, by the way of the sea, on the other side of the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles. The people who walk in darkness will see a great light; Those who live in a dark land, the light will shine on them. (Isaiah 9:1,2)
So, we go to…
2 – Galilee
Galilee was the venue for most of Jesus’ 3 year ministry. It is located in modern-day Northern Israel, which in Jesus’ day was part of Roman jurisdiction. One of three Roman provinces of ancient Palestine, it included the whole northern section of the country, the Jordan River and the Sea of Galilee forming the Eastern border. Lower Galilee, with its great plain and hill country running down into the Jordan, was one of the richest and most beautiful sections of Palestine. Upper Galilee, known biblically as “Galilee of the Gentiles,” was mountainous.[www.biblestudytools.com]
But before Jesus got to work, He had a wedding to attend.
Click LINK 3 – CANA
You are standing in-front of the Wedding Cana Church located in Kafr Kanna which is an Arab town in the Galilee, part of the Northern District of Israel. This Catholic church is a favorite destination for weddings and tourists. However, is this town the actual biblical site of Cana? Many believe not. Six miles north of Kafr Kanna is a hill with ruins of a Jewish village. It is believed that this may be a good candidate for Cana.
Click -> Google Map Photos of Khirbet Qana
[By the way, there are 2 other sites being considered as well.]
In John 2, Jesus Christ, His mother and His disciples were invited to a wedding (probably of a close relation). When His mother noticed that the wine had run out, she turned to her son. He knew what she wanted. Jesus gave her a loving and gentle rebuke saying, “What business do you have with Me, woman? My hour has not yet come” (2:4). But He relented by changing water into the best wine ever made. The Gospel writer had written that this act was the first sign of Jesus’ divinity.
Well, enough of parties, let us go on a boat ride.
3 – Sites of the Inland Sea
Click LINK 4 – SEA OF GALILEE
The Sea of Galilee, also called Lake Tiberias, Kinneret or Kinnereth, is a fresh water lake in Israel. It is the lowest freshwater lake on Earth and the second-lowest lake in the world (after the Dead Sea, a saltwater lake). [wikipedia.com] You know what made this lake special for me personally. It is the only body of water where Jesus walked on water (Matthew 14:25). By the way, here’s some trivia for you, Jesus was not the only one who walked on water. Peter the fisherman also walked on water, if only for a few steps anyway before sinking (14:29,30).
One other thing needs telling. One night, Jesus and his disciples were crossing the lake in the middle of a raging storm. The disciples were afraid that the storm would swamp their boat. As they panicked, Jesus was at the stern sound asleep, like one who had no worries at all. Finally, they shook him awake pleading to be saved. With a word, He calmed the sea. His words to them was, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” (Matthew 8:23-27)
Since, we’re on the lake, let us go to the north end to the shoreline village of…
Click LINK 5 – BETHSAIDA
This is a 360 aerial view of where the fishing village of Bethsaida once was situated. If you look north, at the copse of trees on the waterline, archaeologists had excavated there and had found remnants of the fishing village.
Bethsaida was best known in the Bible as the birthplace of three of Jesus’ disciples: Phillip, Peter, and Andrew (John 1:44–45; 12:21). Bethsaida was the scene of several miracles. One of those miracles performed was when Jesus restored the sight of a blind man (Mark 8:22–26).
Three miles west from Bethsaida was…
Click LINK 6 – CAPERNAUM
This is a 360 aerial view of the area where the biblical Capernaum was located. Capernaum was one of the main trading towns in the Gennesaret area. It was a vibrant and prosperous part of Galilee. Many travelers, caravans, and traders passed through Capernaum on the Via Maris. It was a main trade route connecting Damascus in the north and Egypt in the south. It was no wonder that Jesus used it as His home base during His first 2 years of His ministry.
Below you is the Kfar Nahum National Park. If you zoom in, you can just make out archaeological excavations of this ancient town. The circular structure is the museum with see-through glass floors for visitors to get a better look of the ruins.
Click LINK 6a – MUSEUM
The block structure near the museum is the Pilgrimage Church of St. Peter in Capernaum.
Click LINK 6b – PILGRIMAGE CHURCH
It is a modern Catholic church which is part of the Franciscan monastery. Archaeological excavations carried out in this place discovered another layer of residential structures, on which the first half of a first century church was built. It is believed that it was built over the house of Peter’s in-laws.
Jesus stayed mostly in the house of Peter’s in-laws. His healing of Peter’s mother-in-law’s fever was the start of a daily influx of the sickly, the lame and the possessed. One story in particular was when a group of friends tore an opening through the roof of that house and lowered their paralytic companion to the floor before Jesus. Seeing their faith, He said to the paralytic that his sins were forgiven. But some thought this as blasphemous. Perceiving their thoughts, Jesus justified His authority by healing the man (Mark 2:1-12).
To the right of the museum (white structure) was the location of the Synagogue.
Click LINK 6c – SYNAGOGUE
This synagogue that you are currently viewing may have been built around the 4th or 5th century. Beneath the foundation of this synagogue lies another foundation made of basalt, and it was suggested that this is the foundation of a synagogue from the 1st century.
According to Luke’s Gospel, the Capernaum synagogue at the time of Jesus’ ministry was built or funded by a Roman centurion based there. He was the same centurion who’s beloved ill servant was healed by Jesus in Matthew 8.
One other event that happened here was when Jesus was teaching, He controversially healed the withered hands of a man on the Sabbath (Matthew 12:10-13).
Click LINK 6d – CAPERNAUM DOCK
Jesus had taught much in this town. When He went to the shoreline followed by a crowd, He found Peter and Andrew cleaning their nets after a failed night of fishing. Jesus climbed onto their boat and taught the crowd the parable about the farmer sowing his seed unto 4 types of soils (Matt 13:1-9). [The lesson, of course, was that the Word of God cannot work in our lives unless we have receptive hearts.] After the lesson, Jesus convinced Peter and Andrew to push their boat out back onto the lake to go fishing. Peter was skeptic until they started to haul in a net full that almost swamped their boat. That was when Peter really believed and followed Him (Luke 5:1-11). Now, speaking of fishing…
A Fish of a Tale
Have you heard a fishing yarn* lately? Well, I think some fishermen would probably love this biblical story in Matthew 17:24-27, except that this was no yarn.
Some tax collectors came to Peter one day inquiring if Jesus ever paid the two-drachma tax. He told them yes. When Peter went to ask Him about it, Jesus asked him first, “whom do the kings of the earth collect poll-tax, from their sons or from strangers?” After Peter gave his answer, Jesus rightly said that He and him should pay their taxes anyway. How? He instructed Peter to go fishing and in the first catch he got, just inside the fish’s mouth he found four-drachma coins.
[* Yarn – a long or rambling story, especially one that is implausible.]
Speaking of tax collectors, it was also here in Capernaum that Jesus called Levi the tax collector to leave his counting table and follow Him. Levi was renamed Matthew and became one of the chosen Twelve. He also wrote one of the 4 Gospels of the New Testament.
A little over a mile, west from Capernaum is a mountain top where Jesus gave His…
Click LINK 7 – SERMON ON THE MOUNT
Again, you are looking at a 360 aerial view 0f what tradition claim to be the site of where Jesus gave His sermon. Technically, this is not really a mountain but a large hill known as Karn Hattin. Below is the Church of the Beatitudes.
The Sermon (Matthew 5-7)
So, one day while He was traveling near the Sea of Galilee, Jesus decided to speak to His disciples about what it means to follow Him. Jesus went up on a mountainside (5:1) and gathered His core disciples around Him. The rest of the crowd found places along the side of the hill and at the level place near the bottom in order to hear what Jesus taught His closest followers.
The Sermon on the Mount is by far Jesus’ longest explanation of what it looks like to live as His follower and to serve as a member of God’s Kingdom. In many ways, Jesus’ sermon represent, even today, the major ideals of a true God-centered life.
For example, Jesus taught about subjects such as prayer, justice, care for the needy, handling the religious law, divorce, fasting, judging other people, salvation, and much more. The Sermon on the Mount also contains both the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-12) and the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13).
In the end, Jesus made it clear that His followers should live in a noticeably different way than other people because His followers should hold to a much higher standard of conduct — the standard of the love and selflessness of Jesus Himself.
By the way, in this same neighborhood, to my surprise, is a place that I thought was located south-southeast from Bethsaida. But according to tradition, it was located a lot closer to where Jesus gave His sermon. What site was that? I’m speaking of the event of the…
Click LINK 8 – FEEDING OF 5000
Welcome to the Tabgha Church of the Loaves and Fish. Neat name for a church, isn’t it? It was named after the biblical reference of the boy who had a lunch basket of 5 loaves and 2 fish.
In Mark 6, John the Baptist was just executed by Herod Antipas. When Jesus heard, He withdrew in a boat to a secluded place. People followed Him on the land. When He came ashore and saw all the people who followed Him, His compassion only saw sheep without a shepherd (6:34). When the disciples wanted to send the multitudes away to the nearby villages for food, Jesus saw a lesson opportunity for them on how God provides BIG time. A lesson that Jesus used to drum into them repeatedly.
[Note: Scripture said ‘5000 men’ were fed, but if you add women and children in the mix, there may have been over 10,000 that were fed.]
After the mass feeding, Jesus had His disciples get into the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side… to Bethsaida (6:45). He went up to what I call…
Click LINK 9 – PRAYER HILL
You are standing on Ein Nur Observation which is the closest hill to the Tabgha Church. This hill is the logical site where Jesus went to pray and to get a high vantage view of His disciples straining at the oars—for the wind was against them (6:48). Jesus walked on water to give them a hand.
Now, Jesus’ ministry was not limited around the Sea of Galilee. Sometimes, He went home.
4 – Western part of Galilee
Click LINK 10 – NAZARETH
Set on the outskirts of old Nazareth, the Nazareth Village is built on ancient agricultural land that boasts the area’s last remaining first-century wine press. The original farm has been restored with its ancient wine press, terraces, irrigation system and stone quarry, and exact replicas of first-century houses, a synagogue, a watchtower, mikveh and olive presses have been carefully constructed using the original building methods and materials.
Click LINK 10a – PHOTOS OF VILLAGE MUSEUM
At Nazareth Village, bible scenes are brought to life by “villagers” who populate the farm and houses, living and working with the same type of clothing, pottery, tools and methods that Mary and Jesus would have used. Gifted and knowledgeable guides lead visitors through a living representation of the parables of Jesus within their original context before offering the opportunity to seal the experience with an authentic biblical meal.
Click LINK 10b – MT PRECIPICE
You are standing on the edge of a cliff on Mount Precipice located just outside the southern edge of Nazareth. What are we doing up here? It may be that Jesus may have climbed up and down these cliffs once upon a time. He did have a practice of going up to high places like this to pray in solitude. We just don’t know, but what we do know was that He was almost thrown off this precipice.
One day, Jesus and His disciple came home to Nazareth. As was His custom, He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath and He read a famous Messianic passage from the Prophet Isaiah. After that, Jesus rocked the very foundation of that synagogue when He boldly declared that what was just read had been fulfilled. Everyone there knew what was implied. It was an incredible thought. Is Jesus the Messiah? At first, the people spoke well of Him, but surprise and admiration soon gave place to a spirit of unbelief. Was he not a local boy? …a rather insignificant one being just a son of a carpenter? How had he gained such eloquence, such learning and poise? However, when, as he continued speaking, he pointed to their disbelief and compared it to stories of earlier biblical prophets, their puzzlement turned to anger. In the end, they vainly sought to throw him from a cliff near the town. But He passed through their midst and went on His way.
Six miles southeast from Nazareth is the biblical site of…
Click LINK 11 – NAIN
Nain was a fortified town built on a hill. From our high vantage point, Nain was located at the modern day Arab village of Nin just ahead.
It was there, according to Luke 7:11–17, Jesus raised a young man from death and reunited him with his weeping mother. According to Luke’s account, this young man was the only son of an unnamed widow. When Jesus saw the dead son being carried out and the mourning widow, he felt compassion for her. He walked towards the bier or stretcher, touched it, stopped the funeral procession and told the man: “Young man, I say to you, arise!” The man came alive, sat up, and began to speak. The people who were standing around were all struck by the event, seen as a sign that ‘a great prophet’ had arisen among them, and the report of it spread widely across Judea and the surrounding region. [www.wikipedia.com]
Nearby is another mountain… a very important high-place… for this was where Peter, James and John were allowed a vision of who Jesus really WAS, IS & IS TO COME.
Click LINK 12 – MT TABOR
You are virtually standing before Church of the Transfiguration which is a Franciscan church located on Mount Tabor some 6 miles east from Nazareth.
The Transfiguration was the glorification of the human body of Jesus. On this occasion His body underwent a change in form, a metamorphosis, so that it shone as brightly as the sun. At the time of the Transfiguration, Jesus’ earthly ministry was coming to a close. He had acknowledged that He was the Messiah and predicted His death and resurrection. Now He was to reveal, to a select few, His divine glory. [Don Stewart – http://www.blueletterbible.org]
Jewish villages and enclaves were not the only places that Jesus made His appearances.
5 – Gentile Country*
[* A Gentile is a person who was not Jewish]
Click LINK 13 – CAESAREA PHILIPPI
You’re standing on the ruin courtyards of what was once the Sanctuary of Faunus (Pan). It was a Roman pagan worship center of the Roman city of Caesarea Philippi which was about 26 miles north of the Sea of Galilee.
It was in this area that Jesus asked the question that needed to be asked of His disciples. It was the question of, ‘Who do people say that the Son of Man is?’ Only Peter got it right with the answer that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God (Matthew 16:13). Then Jesus declared that upon this rock… that is, the FAITH expressed by Peter (as well as all believers)… He shall build His church (16:18).
Click LINK 14 – TYRE
These are the ruins of Tyre which was an ancient Phoenician city in modern-day Lebanon. It was in this vicinity, that Jesus brought His disciples for a ‘weekend get-away’. But Jesus’ healing reputation had preceded Him even here deep in Gentile country.
Upon entering a house of an acquaintance, He was noticed by a woman of Greek descent* who had a daughter inflicted by a demon. She loudly pleaded for His help but Jesus said nothing until His disciples urged that she be sent away. Then, I believe, Jesus saw a teaching opportunity for His disciples; a lesson of grace and relentless faith. So, Jesus and her had an exchange of what can only be described as banter.** He said, “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” But she countered with an undeniable and logical reply that even the dogs feed on the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table. I can just imagine Jesus with a pleased expression on His face when He told her that her faith was great. She went home to find her child free of possession.
[* Syrophoenician woman; ** banter: playful and friendly exchange of teasing remarks.]
Again He left the region of Tyre and came through Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, within the region of Decapolis. (Mark 7:31)
The Decapolis in Greek translate into the Ten Hellenistic cities established during the post days of Alexander the Great. They were also known as the Free cities, that is, independently governed outside Roman rule. And one of those cities was located on the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee. It was called…
Click LINK 15 – HIPPOS
As you can see, Hippos was a city built on a high hill overlooking the inland sea. On that shore, Jesus freed a gentile who was tormented by a legion of demons (Luke 8:28-30). Unfortunately for the residences of Hippos, there was a shortage of pork when the demons that were in the man went into a herd of pigs that went crazy and drowned in the lake (8:33). The man freed from the demons became a missionary for Jesus to Hippos and the surrounding region (8:38,39). It was probably because of his testimony that when Jesus returned, that people from throughout this region brought their sick and impaired to Him. For 3 days, He ministered and taught them. Just like the feeding of the 5000, He fed 4000 men in this location (Matthew 15:29-38).
One other place, we must visit is not exactly Gentile. However, to the Jews, it was worse than worse than being Gentile. Our next stop is to…
Click LINK 16 – SYCHAR
You are virtually inside an Eastern Orthodox church and monastery, in the Palestinian city of Nablus in the West Bank. The well of Jacob can be viewed in a chamber under this chapel. Jacob dug this well back when this town was once called Shechem. During Jesus’ time, it was the Samaritan village of Sychar.
In John 4, Jesus and His disciples were on their way back to Galilee. Instead of going back via their traditional route, Jesus surprised the disciples by leading them through Samaritan country which to a Jew was somewhat taboo. Why?
Here’s a quick background. There was great animosity between Jews and Samaritans. You see, the Jews considered the Samaritans as ‘half-breeds’; that is, half Israelites, half Assyrian exiled rejects (2 Kings 17). Back when Solomon’s Temple was rebuilt by the returned Judean exiles, the Samaritans were rejected as true Israelites. So, they went their own way. The Jews took great pains to avoid their territory.
Jesus arrived just outside Sychar where Jacob’s well was. While the disciples went to find food, a Samaritan woman came to draw water. She was there to quench her thirst but instead got an everlasting lesson on ‘Living Water’. She became a believer and her testimony convinces an entire town to believe, too. [4:15-42]
For over two years, Jesus focused His ministry in the north country. For Him to complete the work for the salvation of us all, He had to take…
6 – The road to Jerusalem
His first stop was…
Click LINK 17 – JERICHO
You are facing what is called the Tree of Zacchaeus which is located at the Al-Jummezeh Square in the City Center of Jericho. Is this the remains of the tree where a short tax-collector by the name of Zacchaeus climbed to get a glimpse of the Messiah? Well, this particular sycamore tree is more than 2000 years old. Even if it wasn’t, it was alive here in Jericho when Jesus walked the streets.
Imagine, if you will, Jesus walking the streets of Jericho, surrounded by a crowd. As He was walking under a tree, He looked up to find a rich man straddling precariously on a big branch. With a chuckle, He called him by name and told him that He was dining at his house. During the meal, there were critics that questioned Jesus’ wisdom of being a guest of a sinner. Well, Zacchaeus surprised them by testifying out loud that he was giving half his possessions to the poor and making it right for those he cheated. Then Jesus said, “Today salvation has come to this house… For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” (Luke 19:9,10)
Click LINK 19 – JERICHO ROAD to JERUSALEM
This is Highway 1. This goes from Jericho to Jerusalem and it probably follows the ancient caravan road that Jesus used. And it is on this road that we…