One of the most important things about Israel is its direct connection to Christ. It was where He lived while he was on Earth. As Jesus traveled and preached, His sandals got dusty with Israeli soil. The fish he and his disciples ate were pulled out of Israeli streams, the bread milled with Israeli stone. It was His land.
It is this direct connection that makes the Jesus Trail so powerful for Christians visiting the Holy Land.
The Jesus Trail is a new kind of tour. While there have always been important sites in Israel for Christians to visit, and many of them directly referenced in the Bible, The Jesus Trail isn’t about seeing one specific spot or location, but about a journey. A journey that recreates the path Jesus Himself traveled as he grew, preached, performed miracles, and finally died for our sins.
Created by Maoz Inon, an Israeli native, and David Landis, an American Christian, the Jesus Trail is an open experience that is free to all. It isn’t locked off to the public, or only accessible on certain days. The Jesus Trail is made up of a series of trail markers and small plaques that denote which path to follow and provide background and context for a few of the locations along the way. While there are tour groups that are happy to provide support and detailed information about different legs of the journey and stops, it is entirely possible (and encouraged) for believers to follow the trail on their own and experience it at their own pace and in their own way.
The trail begins, appropriately enough, in Nazareth, home to a young Jesus. From there, it winds its way North and East towards Capernaum and parts beyond. The reconstruction of the path is based largely on the Book of Mathew, following the events as closely as possible in modern Israel. Capernaum was the base of Jesus’ ministry, making it an important stop for any believer.
From there it visits a laundry list of notable locations and important moments in the life of Christ. From Jesus’ humble roots as a carpenter’s apprentice in Zippori, to the Old City where he preached, the Mount of Olives where Jesus wept over Jerusalem and many more. It is an incredible journey, one that allows you to see what the Lord saw with your own eyes, feel the same breeze He felt, and flatten the same Earth as His feet did.
All told, the trail is just over 60km long. If you’re walking it at a fairly average pace, it takes about four or five days to complete. Thankfully, it is not a particularly strenuous route, much of it is flat and the paths being well appointed with rest stops and access to food, water, and shelter. By the standards of enthusiast hikers, it is considered a very easy hike, but for those of us who are not used to long distance hiking it can still be demanding (especially in a climate that can get as hot as Israel’s). There are options for driving it if health or safety issues make walking difficult.
There are plenty of accommodations available on the trail. There are of course commercial hotels, but thrifty and adventurous hikers may consider making use of some of the hostels and Bed and Breakfast’s along the way. These down to earth options are quite affordable and will introduce you to rural Israeli life, allowing you to experience more of the country and culture without straining your wallet. And of course, for experienced hikers, there is always the option to simply pitch a tent and camp for the night.
Whichever way you choose to experience the trail, you are promised an unforgettable spiritual uplifting. Whether you’ve visited Israel before, or are thinking about going for the first time, the Jesus Trail can be an incredible way to experience the Holy Land and connect with the real life experiences of our Saviour.