Category Archives: Israel


The Human Jesus

I have recently finished reading two books by Anne Rice one the early life of Jesus. The recommendation to read them came out of a conversation I had about how I had encountered the humanity of Jesus in a new way when I was in Israel. There I felt closer than ever before to the human Jesus, being in the places where he lived, walking the streets he walked on and experiencing the sites and sounds of the environment where he grew up, lived and ministered.

The books are fiction, but well researched fiction. They paint a good picture of life in First Century Israel and the joys, stresses and struggles of that society. They also struggle to find answers to questions we may not have considered before. What was it like for Jesus growing up as a sinless child, never losing his temper or doing something wrong? How did others view him, what nicknames did they have for him, how did he interact with his peers at the age of 7, 12 or his teenage years?

The author also asks questions of how Jesus dealt with his sexuality as a man. Did he ever ‘fall in love’ and how did he cope? We know he never married and never sinned, but how did he deal with and respond to the God given and naturally human attraction towards the opposite sex?

However the most difficult and maybe controversial question is when and how did Jesus become aware of his divinity and relationship with his Father? Luke 2:52 is an intreaging verse “And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.” At what age did Jesus become aware that he was different to everyone else and how did he know? Jesus was at all times fully human and fully divine, man and God, in one person. He didn’t become God, he was God, but at the same time he didn’t stop being human, he was a man. From the very instant of his conception Jesus was fully and totally God and fully and totally human. He was aware of his humanity from the moment of his birth, but how did he become aware of his divinity?

Along with this question Anne Rice interweaves questions I had never thought of. When and how, for instance, did his mother tell him of the events surrounding his conception and birth? More poignantly when did his family tell him of the events in Bethlehem after they fled for Egypt, and how did Jesu react knowing that other children were slaughtered and he was saved?

All of these are questions of Jesus’ humanity and I found the books really helpful in relating to the man Christ Jesus. The historical and cultural background in the book is excellent and well researched. However these are still fiction novels and there are events depicted that i wouldn’t agree with. Read them for yourself and let me know what you think.

Anne Rice:
Christ The Lord – Out of Egypt
Christ The Lord – the abroad to Cana

An Apology & An Update

View of Jerusalem from tower of Lutheran Church

I am now back from my pilgrimage In The Footsteps of Jesus in Israel and have to start this first post with an apology to those who subscribe to receive emails. Something went wrong and I know that one person received 53 emails from me! So to all those who received multiple emails please accept my apology, technology sometimes lets us all down.

Whether it was co-incidence or not, but about that some time the entire server on which this blog is hosted and our parish website is hosted stopped working. I am still trying to get to the bottom of it but for some reason our parish website seemed to expand and keep expanding until it filled all the available space and in the process stopped the 40 or so sites that are hosted on the server working as well!

The day after my last post from Israel as I was praying God clearly said to me that my experiences In the Footsteps of Jesus was primarily to be a personal time of reflection and renewal. So for both the technical reasons (I didn’t want to cause any more mayhem!) and for personal reasons I decided not to post any further updates from Israel.

If you receive this by email you will notice that the format has changed. I have now changed the way emails are sent to try to avoid the same problem in the future. I just hope this works OK! As I think back and reflect on my time in Israel over the coming weeks I will post more here to share some of what God has been saying to me. It will also inform my preaching, as it did last Sunday and will this coming Pentecost Sunday. I am also planning to put together an evening for those who are interested to talk about what I saw and experienced and share some (just a few) of the 1,300 plus photos that I took, that is if anyone is interested??????

Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth
Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth


Ceasarea Philippi
Ceasarea Philippi



In The Footsteps of Jesus

I am sat writing this in the garden of the Lutheran Guest House in Jerusalem where we have been staying for our pilgrimage to Israel which is called In The Footsteps of Jesus. Today has been day four and I feel that I have been assaulted by a series of sights, experiences, sounds and events that il will be reflecting on for many months to come. I did however think it would be good for me to share a few of these as it will help be to reflect on what I’m experiencing.

Having read the Bible we all have a mental picture of the stories of Jesus. What I wasnt expecting was how close things are to each other in and around Jerusalem. I had thought the Temple Mound would be the highest point in Jerusalem, it isn’t. It is overlooked by the Mount of Olives which is just a stone throw away from it. It is an easy walk from where we are staying to the Western Wall of the Temple and from there to the Mount of Olives. Today we travelled to Bethlehem from Jerusalem and the journey was short. I know we were driving but it’s less than the distance from Sarisbury Green to Fareham which isn’t that far.

But the main surprise was the distance between where Jesus was crucified and where he was buried. I don’t know why but I have never imagined them being that close together. The Church of the Holy Sepelchure however contains both of these within the one church building and they are less than 100yds apart! It has also surprised me that there is a very high level of probability that these are the actual places.

So far visiting the Church of the Holy Sepelchure has been the most moving part of my time. I was surprised how emotional I felt when we visited the church on the first evening after the group arrived. I had a deep sence of amazement and awe that I was standing feet away from the rock on which Christ was crucified and from the tomb, hewn from the rock face, where he was buried.

Yesterday morning some of us got up early (5.30am!) to visit the church. I went first to the chapel that houses the rock of Golgotha and spent some time in reflection. I then went to the large chapel that houses the, largely reconstructed, tomb. It was Sunday morning and there were services happening in every chapel and crevice across the whole building. At the entrance to the tomb a priest emerged followed by the small group who had been with him as he celebrated communion. Another Franciscan priest entered and a few people followed. Five of us took the opportunity and followed ourselves. We were the last in and they shut the door behind us. There in the small space of the place of Christ’s burial and resurrection we were part of a Catholic Mass in Italian and Latin. Being aware of the depth and breadth of God’s love was an awesome experience. receiving communion inside the tomb is an experience I pray I will never forget.

The journey continues and I hope to post more in the next week or so.