Map detailing Jesus' MinistryBiblical scholars sometimes outline these trips of Jesus and the disciples by comparing the Gospel sequence and the locations mentioned, but we do not have one or several routes. We read that Mary and Joseph went south from Nazareth to Bethlehem and to Egypt. Jesus then appears back in the Galilee province calling disciples and teaching and healing especially around the Sea of Galilee. We assume they went back and forth several times ending up in Jerusalem for the trial and crucifixion. He is seen at his resurrection in Jerusalem and he is also seen in Galilee and on the Mount of Olives.

We don’t have a diary or even a biographical sketch but we do have the places mentioned in the Gospels and sometimes visited by Christian pilgrims and tourists. Below are the main places and phrases mentioned in the Gospels, beyond those described in the sections on Jesus in the south and Jesus in the North. They are listed alphabetically since we can’t always find the historically exact location. You might want to visit some of them.

At the Jordan (Matthew 3; Mark 1:9-11) sometimes “in the Jordan” refers to where Jesus was baptized by John. It is being commemorated on the east side in today’s Kingdom of Jordan now. The site on the west side of the Jordan River contains an Israeli fortification and is sometimes inaccessible to Christians. The Israeli Ministry of Tourism has a kibbutz designated as the baptism site where the Sea of Galilee becomes the Jordan River but the Bible actually refers to the Jordan River site. (See the section on the Sea of Galilee.)

Cesarea Phillipi (Matthew 16:13-20) is remembered as the scene where Jesus asked the disciples who they thought he was and Peter made his profession of faith in Jesus. It was known as Banyas in Jesus’ day and is one of the sources of the Jordan River.

The Decapolis (Matthew 4:25) is a term for an area of ten Roman cities. It is partly in Galilee and in Samaria, but mostly in countries to the east of Galilee and Samaria. (Deca means ten and polis means city.)

Ein Karem (Luke 1:39) is west of Jerusalem and is the traditional site of the visit of Mary to her cousin, Elizabeth and the birthplace of John the Baptist. The Church of St. John the Baptist is built over the remains of a fifth century church and some Crusader ruins are also found there. The Franciscan Church of the Visitation (built in 1955) is nearby. Just beyond Ein Karem is the Hadassah Hospital, a part of Hebrew University, and famous for its stained glass windows. There is a free standing synagogue at the hospital with windows by Marc Chagall, representing the twelve tribes of Israel. 

Jacob's Well
Jacob's Well

Jacob’s well (John 4:5-47) is the place where Jesus asked the Samaritan woman for a drink and promised her living water. It is located just over a mile from modern Nablus (formerly called Shechem). The site has a Byzantine Church from the fourth century built in the form of a cross and a partially completed Greek Orthodox Church, which is the site of the well. A member of the church will let down a pail for water which you are invited to drink.

Jericho (Mark 10:46-52; Luke 18:35; and many other references in the gospels) has been located in various places throughout the centuries. Its present location is in the valley of the Jordan River making it a hot, humid spot to visit in summer. When Joshua defeated Jericho it was already six or seven thousand years old. It was one of the earliest locations known for growing crops as settled agriculture began, and it was visited in the Stone Age. You will see carvings of a six-pointed star which is the symbol used by Hisham, a famous 8th century caliph. Jesus went there many times.

Judea beyond the Jordon (Mark 10:1;) refers to an area which is now in the Kingdom of Jordan.

Mount of Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-8; Mark 9:2-8; Luke 9:28-36;) is spoken of in the gospels but there is no clue as to its real location. It is a good illustration of sites located by the motto: “It must be someplace, so why not here?”

Naim (Luke 7:11-16) – is where Jesus raised a person from the dead. An 18th century church commemorating Luke’s story has been built there.

Samaria – In Jesus’ day, Samaria was a province along with the province of Galilee in the north and the province of Judea in the south. When Jesus and the disciples traveled, they went through Samaria as they went from the Galilee to Judea and back. Some cities in Samaria are mentioned but others remain anonymous. Some Jews would not travel in Samaria because the inhabitants worshipped at Mount Gerezin insead of Jerusalem.  This is the background to the Good Samaritan story.

Syria was not a country in Jesus day but a large area of the land on the east side of the Mediterranean Sea. In recent times it was a part of the Ottoman Empire. Then it was divided up after World War II into several smaller countries including Lebanon, Jordan, and Syria itself. 

Tyre and Sidon (Mark 7:34; Luke 6;) still exist and are located in today’s Lebanon (formerly Syria) on the shore of the Mediterranean.