By Lee Jong-hwan
Seoul, July 2 (World Korean News)= When I was traveling to Jerusalem, a question crossed my mind. Why have people fallen for Jesus for the last 2,000 years? Why did Christianity spread rapidly and still hold many people's hearts? It was this very question.
Jerusalem was full of tourists. The guide explained that the weather is good from February to April, so there are more pilgrims to the Holy Land.
The tour of Jerusalem was the last day of the General Assembly of the Korean Association of African Middle East. The first place we visited was Mount Olive in Jerusalem, close to our hotel.
There seems to have been many olives on Mount Olive since Jesus' days. Even now, olive trees can be seen all over the mountain.
The cave where Jesus taught the Lord's Prayer was at the top of Mount Olive. Now, Lord's Prayer Church was elected on the spot to greet visitors.
When I entered the church, the walls were full of prayers written in various languages. There were also two Korean-language Lord's Prayer plates hanging on the wall.
The BBC once aired a documentary titled "Cave Men." The documentary introduced that modern humans walked a different path from chimpanzees while painting murals in caves.
Murals are a figment of imagination. It was interpreted that mankind became the ruler of all things as this imagination became the driving force for creating art, science, and culture.
But humans painted murals in caves, but didn't they also memorize the Lord's Prayer? I imagined this in a small cave where Jesus taught his disciples the Lord's Prayer?
From Mount Olive, you could see the old town of Jerusalem and the Golden Dome at a glance. The guide added that Jesus frequently climbed Mount Olive through the Gidron Valley.
In the valley of Gidron stands the Gethsemane Church. It was a place where Jesus, who finished the last supper, prayed anxiously whether he could avoid the cup of death in anticipation of death. It was a scene in which the human aspect of Jesus was clearly revealed. However, Jesus prayed that it would go according to his father, not his own way.
St. Anna's Church and the Bethesda Well were in the middle of the Old City of Jerusalem. St. Anna's Church was named after the Virgin Mary's mother, and was built by crusaders.
The guide explained that when the Islamic army occupied Jerusalem, the Islamic army was moved by the sight of Christians waiting for their deaths singing hymns, saving them and not destroying the church.
Many tourists sang hymns among themselves here. Our party also sang a hymn, 'Praise...'.
The road of the cross was connected here. It is the path of suffering and sacrifice that Jesus takes with the cross to Golgotha and leads to death.
The guide said the pilgrims sing hymns or even crawl on their knees. The road to the cross was narrow and full of tourists. The streets were lined with Palestinian shops.
The guide introduced that there are 14 tourist points. It was where Jesus started with the cross, where he fell, where he leaned against the wall, where he fell again, where he was crucified, where he was stabbed to death by a spear, and a cave where Jesus was buried. Each of these tourist points was lined with pilgrims.
In the afternoon, we visited the attic of Mark and Peter Wailing Church on Mount Zion. The attic of Mark is where Jesus held the Last Supper with his disciples. Peter Wailing Church stands where Peter, who denied Jesus three times, wept.
Jerusalem is located in a mountainous area 800 meters above sea level. The road to Jerusalem was steep and the valley was deep. How did King David come to this place?
The last place we visited was Bethlehem. The birthplace of Jesus was 20 kilometers away from Jerusalem. Bethlehem belonged to the Palestinian Authority. For this reason, in order to enter Bethlehem, we had to go through a checkpoint on the wall of Palestinian separation.
The stable where Jesus was born was a cave. Now in Bethlehem, Basilica of the Nativity stands magnificently to greet tourists.
Why is the history of mankind divided before and after the birth of Jesus? Why were people crazy about Jesus? Why are people still interested in Jesus?
I had a sudden thought when I left Basilica of the Nativity. The idea was that there was a strange resemblance between Moses' model of leading the Jewish people and Jesus' model of promising heaven.
Moses delivered the oppressed Jews from Egypt to Canaan, presenting the vision of Canaan, the Promised Land. Jews fled Egypt in search of land flowing with milk and honey.
Exodus from Egypt was tough process. The Land of Hope offered by Moses was Canaan. Jesus offered people hope to escape Roman oppression and go to heaven. Were people attracted to this hope offered by Jesus? Didn't Jesus change Moses' Canaan to Heaven and present it to people?
Moses tried to save the Jewish people, but Jesus dreamed of saving the world from the land of Canaan, and he thought that he might have presented the path of Exodus to mankind by presenting a new Canaan as heaven.
In agricultural societies such as India and China, it is not easy to pack up and find new settlements. Exodus is only possible for nomads who raise sheep and goats. So in China and India, there might not have been Exodus versions like Moses and Jesus.
What Jesus threw at mankind was a message of hope and salvation. Aren't people enthusiastic about this message from Jesus for the past 2,000 years? That's what I thought when I left Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity.
** (This translation was sponsored by Dokko Youngsik, the president of the Midwest Korean American Association.)