Holy Discontent

| — Rev. Brandon Dirks — |

Set My Face Toward Jerusalem


By: Brandon Dirks

Day 5: Friday. Nazareth. Megiddo. Caeserea (Maritima). Jerusalem.

Someone in charge of this tour missed an opportunity. Today would be a great day to use Luke 9:51: And it came to pass, when the time was come that he should be received up, he steadfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem. (KJV)

It was hard to leave the Sea of Galilee today. This place is BEAUTIFUL, non-crowded, not commercialized much, lush, enjoyable, relaxing. I don’t want to leave. You should see the view of my daily personal worship…if everyone had this view at sunrise…we would not have any problems getting everyone to worship the Lord daily! I wonder if the disciples didn’t want to leave either. One thing I know for sure, if Jesus was reluctant to leave, he didn’t show it. He set his FACE toward Jerusalem. He MUST go there.

Tiberius Site of Brandons Personal Worship Panoramic

My daily personal worship space at 5:30 am each morning in Tiberius. Sad this is my last one here. I will miss this place.

We had to have our luggage ready to go by 6:15am. And by 7:30 am we were off because tonight, about an hour before sundown, Shabbat starts and everything closes around 4 pm. We have a lot to do today…but our final destination is Jerusalem. Sounding familiar?

From Luke 9:51, Jesus starts to talk differently. He predicts his death…three times. He talks of how the Messiah must suffer…in Jerusalem. The disciples really didn’t understand. Do I? Really? He certainly kept on his mission to seek and save the lost, healing, caring, preaching and teaching his disciples. But there is less and less time with the crowds, and more and more time training his disciples. He knew he would be leaving soon, and he needed his disciples to get up to speed. After all…it wouldn’t be long before it would be up to them to carry the mission onward.

I have set my face toward Jerusalem too, as a disciple who is a recipient of the same training handed down from Jesus to his own disciples throughout the generations. Already, the calm life of the Sea is giving way to the busyness of metropolitan life. More cars. More crowds. More interest in keeping to a schedule (if you know me, you are LOL-ing now). I am resistant…but also curious.

Nazareth is now a city. But in Jesus’ day, it was a nothing, insignificant village…of about 14 families. St. Gabriel’s Greek Orthodox Church was built on the only spring in Nazareth. NO DOUBT Mary came here to get water for her family. There is a story from a non-canonical book called the Evangelion of James in which Mary was getting water at the spring when Gabriel tried to get her attention (a “first” annunciation). She got scared, and ran home. Gabriel then got her attention as depicted in the Gospel of Matthew…and the Byzantines venerated the house of Mary, and eventually the Franciscans built the Church of the Annunciation when they found the grotto (Mary’s cave-like basement) in the 1950’s.

Mary's Home

I’ve been to the Biltmore House. I would like to go to Graceland. I might as well go visit Mary’s home.

Altar of church at Mary's Home

Mary’s home. We tend to commemorate sacred events and locations with huge buildings! All that is left of Mary’s home is the basement floor.

Church of the Annunciation - Mary's Home

Church of the Annunciation. Mary’s home.

Bulletin Board Notice

Even the Church of the Annunciation puts notices on their bulletin boards!

Thinking of Jerusalem, I wander with Patty over to the Catholic confessional boxes, and we unashamedly ask for a blessing. He prays for Patty. And then me. I think I have my head on straight now. I am not a tourist. I am pilgrim. I might have forgotten. Thank you, Father.

Patty Blessed at the Church of the Annunciation

Patty being blessed.

I’m walking through the streets of Nazareth, smelling spices and fresh bread breaking and trying not to get hit by cars when a disturbing thought comes to mind. Am I more impressed by the churches we build over all these sacred sites (which is impressive) or by the annunciation itself and God’s plan for redemption of the world? I must get this straight in my mind. Jesus was born for a reason…

City of Nazaraeth

Nazareth today. Very busy, very crowded. A City. For Mary, it was an unimportant village of 14 families.

Back on the bus…setting my face toward Jerusalem.

Megiddo is an amazing archaeological site, Jezreel Valley is beautiful, and I learned that this place is way more significant than the often misunderstood role it plays in the book of Revelation.

Back on the bus…setting my face toward Jerusalem.

Caeserea is not so much a religious site, as an important part of history. Herod the Great built this deep water port basically out of nothing, and it didn’t take long before he made it the capital. It is QUITE impressive. This is the place where Paul was taken in Acts 24 when he appealed to be heard by the emperor. (I was mistaken in an earlier blog, but this is the place where King Agrippa came to see Paul in which Paul invited him to be a follower of Christ ….not in Caesera Phillipi). But my thoughts are more…elsewhere.

We make a quick stop at an aqueduct that Herod built to bring fresh water into Caeserea, and we take the opportunity to “touch” the Mediterranean. Our tour guide is losing ‘control’ of us! We are having fun. But…I know…we are here for more. We set our face toward Jerusalem.

Back on the bus for the last time…next stop…Jerusalem…………

Breaking my heart.


P.S. In advance of the Super Bowl, go Panthers! (I got my fellow pilgrims to do the Dab with me!

Doing the Dab for the Panthers



2 thoughts on “Set My Face Toward Jerusalem

  1. Hi Brandon – another fine blog entry – loved the narrative and the fine pictures. I am so pleased for you and the group to make this Pilgramage – you surely deserve it and I know it’s so meaningful to everyone in the group. Rick Hale

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