In select theaters for only three days — November 15-17 — “Journey with Jesus” is much more than a travel video of key locations in the Holy Land.
In fall 2018, Tony Evans, author and senior pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas, and his daughters Chrystal Evans Hurst and Priscilla Shirer, also authors and Bible teachers, visited Israel, bringing to life places where Christ walked.
Retracing His footsteps
“We retraced the footsteps of Jesus,” Evans recalled. “We traveled to the historical sites of His life, His ministry and His miracles. It was the Bible come to life.”
The film consists of Bible lessons, mini-messages, worship, sermon excerpts and interactive discussions at various sites thought to be where Jesus lived and ministered. Every site is linked to a specific scripture.
But “Journey with Jesus” isn’t a solemn film. There are several lighthearted, behind-the-scenes moments from filming, down-to-earth conversations, encouragement and practical applications.
Beginning with Bethlehem and the Church of the Nativity, the supposed place where Jesus was born, Evans says in the film, “Nobody else can be called Emmanuel — God with us. Since He’s fully man, He can relate to your struggles, your pain, your insecurities, your failures … . If you keep your faith in Him, it also means God is with you.
His name is Emmanuel
“So wear His name, bear His name and share His name, because there’s no other name like His. His name is Emmanuel.”
Hurst comments, after spending time around the Sea of Galilee and Capernaum, “I think it is so interesting that so much of what Jesus did was in such a small space. You think about Jesus and the ripple effect He’s had through nations throughout time. But so much was done … in the hometown.”
In the film Evans preaches a sermon based on Matthew 8:23-27, about Jesus calming the storm, during a worship service on boats in the middle of the Sea of Galilee.
“I would love to tell you if you obey Jesus, it won’t get stormy and the waves won’t get rough,” Evans preaches, “but in the journey of life and in the journey of obedience, while you’re smack-dab in the will of God, storms do come.
“So don’t let anybody tell you if you’re following Jesus, it won’t rain; if you’re following Jesus, the billows won’t roll; if you’re following Jesus, the wind won’t blow. Because [you can be] in the will of God and in the middle of a storm. Both are happening at the same time.
“No matter what storm you face, wake Him up and watch Him say, ‘Peace, be still,’ as you grow to see that your Lord Jesus Christ can handle any storm you face.”
‘Fresh relevance and meaning’
One light moment in the film involves Father Kelly, a local guide.
“When people say, ‘Was Jesus here?’ I say, ‘I can’t tell you. We lost the videos,” Kelly jokes.
He and Evans go on to say that the locations they visit fit biblical accounts, so it is natural to believe they’re the actual sites.
“There’s a lot of pieces coming together here … and we have a place that could very easily have been visited and preached in by Jesus,” Kelly tells the group. “I think that this is enough to give us sufficient goosebumps for today.”
At the supposed site of Lazarus’ tomb, the group agrees that God allows disappointment. Shirer notes that one of her sons had a birth injury, and she prayed that it be healed.
“In hindsight, God is always saying, ‘Yes,’ even if in the present, it looks like a no. We have to have the faith in who God is, to believe that there’s a yes we don’t yet see,” Shirer says. “He actually could solve the problem, and He still paused to feel [before raising Lazarus]. He wasn’t rushing to the solution.
“Even if there’s something to be done, stopping to feel is important.”
The film ends with Jesus’ last days, including the Garden of Gethsemane and a walk down the Via Dolorosa to what is believed to be the site of Jesus’ crucifixion, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
As Shirer later said about the film, “‘Journey with Jesus’ will have a powerful impact because the story of Jesus will come alive with fresh relevance and meaning, enriching hearts and renewing faith.”
“Journey with Jesus” tickets are now available. For more about the film or to buy tickets visit www.journeywithjesusmovie.com.