Walking in Jordan

Exploring Jesus’ steps in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan

by Rachel Davis

During a recent trip to the land of Jordan, I quickly realized that Jesus’ disciples definitely didn’t need to build in time for exercise. If they had a first-century pedometer, they would have met their step goals daily. Walking through the ruins of these once-great Greco-Roman cities where Jesus walked gave me a better understanding of the communities he visited and the daily life he and his disciples led.

The cities of Gadara (modern day Umm Qais) and Gerasene (modern day Jerash) were tiny hamlets in my imagination, but upon seeing the original footprints of these cities, I realized how small my view of the land of the Bible was. I visited many holy, ancient sites in Jordan, including the banks of the Sea of Galilee, where Jesus performed the miracle of casting demons into swine.

But more than seeing these places, moving my own body in a space once occupied by Jesus and his disciples gave me a greater understanding of my own faith. Like most of us, I find myself in those moments of doubt—about my faith, about my future, about my calling. Seeing the places where Jesus himself walked brings pause to a lot of those questions.

Perhaps the greatest moment of meaning was walking next to the banks of the Jordan River in the very spot that church leaders believe is where John baptized Jesus. Jesus had already walked very far at this point (we were many miles from Nazareth) and yet his ministry was just beginning. What a wonderful reminder that while we journey through our faith and wellness endeavors, we may also just be beginning. Though the journey may feel long at times, walking where Jesus walked was a reminder of his ministry and call to discipleship.

Seeing these ancient sites reminded me that in Jesus, God became flesh, a key tenet of the Christian faith. While Jesus was perfect, he entered a broken world. His body had to endure the same steep hills in Jerash. He was thirsty in the dry climate. By becoming human, Christ experienced pain and brokenness despite his perfection. In fact, the cities that Jesus left became very broken following earthquakes. Walking through this peaceful oasis surrounded by a region of conflict reminded me that as Christians, we still have much to do in this world. And just like the process of walking, it’s not a quick fix. There’s much work to be done along the journey.

Visiting Jordan magnifies the importance of biblical stories that I often overlook. Walking in the space where Jesus preached and healed opened my eyes to the vast nature of God, the diverse kingdom of God and my own capacity to do God’s work in the world. It’s amazing what a few steps will teach you.

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