There is no trip one can experience in the world as spiritually refreshing as the Holy Land. There is something wonderfully unique in walking, as we say, in the footsteps of Jesus. Galilee, the Garden Tomb, Gethsemane and Bethlehem will always warm the heart with renewed faith and understanding of the love of God for all his children as that love was manifested in the life, teachings, and sacrifices of His Son. There is perpetual homesickness within me when I think of these places. Yet the great story of Christ did not end when Jesus softly called Mary’s name by the empty tomb on that first Easter morning. It spread forth to distant horizons where searching men and women waited for the good news of God’s divine intervention in the affairs of men. That is a story in and of itself, written on the stones of Ephesus, Cappadocia, Athens, Galatia, Patmos, and Rome. These “holy” places also awaken the divine homesickness within.
The story of the apostles spreading the gospel throughout the Mediterranean, lifting Christianity onto the landscape of the Roman world is a compelling one. In the travels of Paul, Peter, John and the rest of the heroes and heroines of Acts and the Epistles we learn of the impact of Jesus’ life on those who loved Him. I have thought of the trials, the character, the visions, and wisdom of these men and women while reading Paul’s words among the wildflowers and fallen pillars of Corinth; or cooling myself in the shaded classical perfection of the Parthenon in Athens; or sitting in the rain on the stone seats of the theatre in Ephesus which once heard the cries of a pagan world rocked by the teachings of the carpenter from Nazareth.