We started our day in Cana, where, according to John’s Gospel 2:1-11, Jesus performed his first miracle by turning water into wine for a wedding celebration. The married couples of our group took the opportunity to renew their wedding vows in a very moving group ceremony led by Pastor Chris Seay in one of the gardens of the Franciscan Wedding Church at Cana. I find it beautiful that Jesus’ first miracle was at performed at the celebration of a marriage.
After Cana, we made our way to Nazareth, the childhood home of Jesus. We enjoyed one of my favorite churches in the world, the The Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation. I enjoy this church because of its simplicity contrasted with a subtle intricacy in the woodwork and muted tones of the murals and lamps. This humble church sits atop a natural spring which would have most likely been the spot from which the ancient community well of Nazareth was sourced.
The waters of the spring issue from a mountain known as Jabal as-Sikh and flow through an underground channel in the rock for 17 meters (56 ft) before emerging in the church. As recently as the 20th century, they continued on underground from there for another 130 meters to emerge in the public fountain known as Mary’s Well. It is probable that Mary drew water from this well for the holy family. The murals and iconography in the church are beautifully done, depicting various stories from the Bible along with icons of various Biblical figures.
We then took a short hike to Mt. Precipice for some beautiful panoramic views over the Jezreel Valley. It is believed by many to be the site of the Rejection of Jesus described in Luke 4:14-30. In this passage, Jesus proclaims himself as the one described in Isaiah, saying,
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
The people of Nazareth, not accepting Jesus as Messiah tried to push him from the mountain, but “he passed through the midst of them and went away.” The mount is situated on the southern edge of the city and provides beautiful views of the valley below and Mt. Tabor (Mount of Transfiguration) seen as an isolated peak to the east.