It was a dream-come-true. I’d waited for it my whole life. Carla and I, as guests of dear friends, visited the Holy Lands. We walked where Jesus once walked. We took a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee. We saw where Jesus was born and where He died and was buried. (The tomb really is empty!) We visited the temple in Jerusalem, and we prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane.
One of the most memorable events on our tour was a stop in Magdala, a little fishing village on the western banks of the Sea of Galilee. The city is never mentioned in the Bible. We know it only as the home of Mary Magdalene... Mary of Magdala.
In Magdala we visited the ancient ruins of a synagogue. The museum and visitor’s center built on the location displayed the well-preserved archeological site and exquisite modern mosaics depicting the life and ministry of Jesus.
The moment etched in my memory is of standing with my friends on a stone pavement. We were just standing there, thinking that Jesus, two-thousand years ago, had stood on these same stones. The pavement, unearthed by the archeologists, was part of a street leading through Magdala. Jesus had walked that roadway.
There’s something else about that unforgettable moment. A beautiful mural covered the entire wall beside where we stood. The painting is called “The Encounter.”
The large mural portrays Jesus as He stood on the first-century pavement, surrounded by His disciples. Each of the men are dressed in long robes, and each wears a pair of sandals. Interestingly, the picture only shows them from below their knees. Dirty feet. Dusty sandals. On a stone pavement. That’s almost all.
But there is one more thing in the mural. It’s a woman’s outstretched hand touching the fringe of Jesus’ robe. At the point of the touch, a modest glow.
“The Encounter” is recorded in Mark’s fifth chapter. The woman had been hemorrhaging for twelve years. She believed that if she could touch the hem of Jesus’ coat, she would be healed. She did. She was.
She’d tried everything. Doctors. The best medicine that money could buy. Nothing helped. Every day she died a little more. After twelve miserable years of prolonged death, at the touch of Jesus, she was given new life. She encountered Jesus!
South Georgia Baptist Church
Mike Martin, Pastor