Matthew writes, “Leaving Nazareth, he [Jesus] went and lived in Capernaum” (4.13). Along these paths between Nazareth and Capernaum, we know Jesus met an eclectic mix of people – peasants, soldiers, religious elite, Samaritans, merchants, and travelers from the ends of the empire. Jesus received hospitality from people along the way. Many shared food or cold water, wisdom and idle talk, spiritual interest and ambivilance. Jesus did not travel with fear of those different from himself, but accepted hospitality from a tax collector, a sinful Samaritan woman, and a Roman official as well as other Gentiles and outsiders.
Over the past three years David Landis, Maoz Inon, and Anna Dintaman Landis have worked to blaze a trail that not only connects Nazareth and Capernaum, these hometowns of Jesus, but also connects pilgrims with local people and local people with each other. For those who are interested, the trail also provides connection to the places, faces, and rhythm of the Galilee in Jesus’ time. Whether hikers come for adventure or to know Jesus better, the trail provides a space that will surely draw people to think about Jesus’ time on earth as well as His ministry and teachings.
The Jesus Trail is a four day hiking trail starting in the Old City of Nazareth and winding out past ancient Zippori, through Mash’had and Kfar Cana, onto the Horns of Hattin, past Nebi Shu’eib, down a long, lonely valley towards the cliffs of Arbel and on to the Sea of Galilee and Capernaum. Most hikers trek the trail in four days, stopping to receive hospitality from Arabs and Jews along the path. Fabulous views and meditative paths draw the hiker into the land of the Bible, but also give the hiker a greater appreciation for the distance, time, energy, and resouces needed to travel year ago. Walking the land that Jesus walked gives one a better appreciation for cool water, good hospitality, rest for weary feet, faithful companions, and smooth paths.
After walking for hours between dry, rocky hills and hardy bushes the thirsty hiker spots green trees and clumps of lush grass around a spring in the wilderness. Thousands of years before this Jesus Trail hiker’s need for water, David sang, “The Lord is my Shepherd. . . He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul” (Ps 23). Jesus also spoke to a thirsty woman, saying, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty forever. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (Jn 4.13). Today people from all around the world are experiencing these real and figurative water sources as they hike the Jesus Trail.
Those who come to hike seek many things. Some come seeking an adventure. Some come for self fullfillment or a chance to do something different while visiting the birthplace of Christianity. Some come to experience a slice of history. Some come to understand the life and teachings of Jesus better. Followers of Jesus interact with those who do not yet know of the waters that lead to eternal life. Jews interact with Arabs as both host hikers. The Jesus Trail offers space to all. As hikers trek the hills and encounter hospitality at the homes and businesses of both Jews and Arabs, they better understand what it is like to find green pastures, still waters, places to rest the soul.
More information about the trail can be found at www.jesustrail.com. Hiking the Jesus Trail: and other Biblical Walks in the Galilee is also a very helpful resource when interested in hiking or traveling in the Galilee. Hiking the Jesus Trail can be purchased through the Jesus Trail website.
By Betsy Fisher Rhodes