S: Photographic Testimony of Jesus Christ
FC: Photographic Testimony of Jesus Christ | by Jim and Celia Jeffery
1: Foreword During 2009 the Spirit repeatedly whispered to me that there was something more I needed to do to serve the Lord. As I prayed about this, I kept getting the feeling that I should capture in pictures the wonderful spirit that my family felt when we visited Israel and followed in our Savior’s footsteps. I fasted and prayed for specific guidance as to what He wanted me to do. The spirit poured over me, confirming that my wife and I were to return to Israel and take photographs there. I was directed as to who to contact to identify the specific pictures I was to take. As a result I received several pages outlining the photographs that were needed. This was a direct confirmation to me that I was doing what the Lord wanted me to do. I spent months reading both archaeological books and church books regarding important sites in Israel. I also searched the Internet for facts about these sites and was additionally given information by friends and family who had been there. As I studied and prayed, the spirit poured out inspiration to enable me to visualize what pictures I should take. It also told me that the pictures should portray a feeling for the areas the Savior loved and where He ministered in order to bear testimony of His experiences and teachings. He often used these surrounding areas as visual aids for His teaching. With these thoughts running through my mind I became worried about having the right light and weather for landscape photography. If these are not as they should be it is pointless to take the picture. To achieve the best result in landscape photography one must have the right angle and light to capture the desired feeling. Usually, early morning and late afternoon are best for photographing landscapes. Then one waits for the right day with the best light. This usually takes multiple visits to a site before I can catch the light the way I want. This is very time consuming. I was very concerned about this because we would only be able to visit many of these sites one time and if the weather and light were not right we would not get inspiring results. I went to | the Lord in fervent prayer and was inspired to seek a priesthood blessing. This blessing brought comfort to my soul. I was told that the elements would be tempered, that people would be inspired to help us and that we would be watched over. The weather was tempered for us on many days. On several occasions East winds were forecast, and knowing these winds would bring a sandy haze to the sky creating a terrible environment for landscape photography, we prayed for clear skies the next day. We would arise the next morning to find that a storm had come through during the night leaving the air clean and crisp. At other times, when we had to be shooting during the middle of the day, the sky would be just cloudy enough that the sun would disappear behind the clouds and soften the light. Clouds also created lovely sunsets, visual interest in the sky itself and mottled shadows on the land. We are so grateful to the Lord for helping us get good pictures by providing great weather and lighting. In order to get all the photos we needed while the countryside was still green, we were encouraged to go a week earlier than we had planned. This placed us in Israel during the busy Easter and Passover week and affordable accommodations were hard to obtain. We left anyway, trusting that the Lord would provide help for us to find a place to stay during the first week and He did. We felt His love and thank Him from the depths of our hearts for His guiding inspiration throughout our month in Israel. We agree with President Kimball when he said, “To visit the place where such momentous happenings affected the eternities of us all is most interesting and intriguing and added color to our picture, but we did not need to walk through the Holy Land to know eternal truth.“ (Spencer W. Kimball, “Galilee! Where Jesus so loved to be!” Conference Report April 1961) As the master teacher, Jesus used the world around Him as a visual aid. We hope and pray that these photographs will give you a better feel for the Savior, His homeland and teachings, and draw you closer to Him.
2: Bethlehem Cave “And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was so room for them in the inn.” (Luke 2:7) A cave in Bethlehem which we felt was very like the cave stable in which Christ was born. This stone manger is very typical of the time. | Bethlehem Because of Palestinian tensions, we were told to leave our car outside the wall, walk in and take a taxi. We asked the guard at the checkpoint where to park. but he insisted we just drive in as he waved an automatic weapon, so we did. We immediately began to pray for guidance and protection. We felt we should ask a certain man for directions and he started to tell us, but then said he was going that way, just follow him. He got us into the center of town and talked to a policeman who told us to follow him. He drove us right there through several twists and turns for about 20 minutes across town. This was before we realized most Palestinians do not speak English. Coming back out, we had another man drive us right to the checkpoint.
3: Joy to the World The joy and happiness on Mary’s face remind us of the joy we felt at the birth of our newborn child. Her rejoicing reflects that in heaven as the long awaited coming of the Son of God has arrived. “behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.” (Luke 2:10) The cave in the picture is in Bethlehem. | Entrusted to His Care What emotions would have beset Joseph when the angel told him that the child Mary bore was the Son of God? I have often pondered the burden of responsibility he must have felt to teach and nurture our Savior and Lord. “...behold the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream saying, Joseph,fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.” (Matt 1:20)
4: Bethlehem Fields Shepherds still tend their sheep in the fields near Bethlehem, where the angels first announced His birth. “And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flocks by night.” (Luke 2:8-16) When the Savior used the term “sheepfold” I used to think that it meant you were a part of His group or a follower. However, I have since learned that a sheepfold is a place of protection. The shepherd takes his sheep into an enclosure where he can protect and take care of his flock. He usually stays and sleeps close by the fold This symbolism carries deeper meaning (John 10:1-16) | Easter Sunrise from Bethlehem Cave Looking out of this cave in Bethlehem at a sunrise makes me think of the first sunrise after the Savior’s birth and the light He brought to the world. The time had finally come for the Redeemer of mankind to come to earth and fulfill the many prophecies that had been made about Him.
6: View from Mt. Carmel Looking out from Mt. Carmel across the Jezreel Valley (also known as Armageddon), one can see the hills in the distance where Nazareth nestles. I thought of the Savior wandering through this area as He worked and played. He was a great observer of nature and people and accumulated a vast reservoir of knowledge from which He drew vivid parallels in His teaching.
7: These scenes, taken at Nazareth Village, Nazareth, Israel, depict the beauties and conditions of life Jesus would likely have experienced. | Goatskin water bag
8: The Holy Ghost Descended Like a Dove We had been praying to find a place to represent the baptism of Jesus. since the Jordan River has 60-70% less water flow than at the time of the Savior. We were on our way elsewhere, when we felt prompted to drive along the Jordan River. We found this beautiful and peaceful spot where the light was soft. Doves were flying through the area. There was a very special Spirit there. In my mind’s eye, I could see the Savior in a place like this going down into the water to be baptized. “And John went down into the water and baptized him.” (JST Matthew 3:16) “And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him” (Luke 3:22)
9: A Time of Fasting and Prayer After His baptism, Jesus went “into the wilderness to be with God.” (Matthew 4:1) As we looked at this desolate area the Spirit touched my heart so I could feel some of the ordeals my Lord would have undergone to draw Himself closer to His Father in Heaven so that He would be fully ready for His ministry. I could see in my mind the Savior looking for shady places in which to sit to meditate and commune with God. If He needed to take time like this to draw closer to God how much more do I need this regularly in my life? When I saw these stones I could visualize the first temptation. “And when he had fasted forty days and nights, and had communed with God, he was afterward an hungered and was left to be tempted of the devil. And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.” (JST Matthew 4:2-4)
10: Pinnacle of the Temple This is the traditional corner of the temple where Satan tempted Christ. “And the Spirit brought him to Jerusalem, and set him on a pinnacle of the temple, and the devil came unto him and said unto him, If you be the Son of God, cast thyself down from hence.” (JST Luke 4:9) According to archaeologists, the wall would have been 33-50% taller at the time of Christ. The larger stones with a smooth trim around them are original stones from the time of Christ. The small stones are replacements.
11: Synagogue at Ancient Cana Ann pointed out to us that these ruins are probably the synagogue as it is the largest structure there and the doorway faces Jerusalem. Most likely the site where Jesus performed His first miracle of turning water into wine. (John 2:1-11) | Ancient Cana As we stood near modern Cana looking across the valley to Ancient Cana, the clouds parted and the sun burst through to mark the hill, or spot, where Jesus performed his first recorded miracle—the changing of water into wine. (John 2:1-11) Since this site is not a tourist spot, we were only able to find these ancient ruins through the help of Michael and Ann Hansen, long-time residents of Israel and members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints with backgrounds in history and archeology. They were another answer to our prayers and were inspired to help us find the sites we needed to photograph. We had to drive down old farm roads and through fields to the base of the hill and climb up among the cattle.
12: Sunset in Galilee As we drove from Cana to Tiberius one evening, we saw this glorious sunset. We felt an overwhelming spirit of gratitude to the Lord for allowing us to be here in Israel to take these pictures and for the people He had sent to guide and help us. | Sunset on the Sea of Galilee I can’t help but wonder if Jesus may have felt sunsets were a special time of day as I do.
13: Mount Precipice In the synagogue at Nazareth Jesus read from “the book of the prophet Esaias...” (Luke 4:17) And declared , “This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.” (Luke 4:21) The people’s reaction to this was to lead “him to the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might cast him down headlong.” (Luke 4:29) This is one of the traditional sites where this occurred. To give perspective, the tree on the right on top of the Mount is about 15 feet high. To me it seems the Savior must have been sad and disappointed to have them reject Him and even try to kill Him.
14: Scenes from First Century Village at Katzrin We were asked to take pictures inside the restored Rabbi's house to show what homes and life may have been like at the time of Christ. We spent over an hour in here shooting without a flash, using only ambient light. They were therefore long exposures. Doors opening or people walking through would have spoiled the shot. The tender mercies of the Lord were evident again this day because no one entered this popular place until I was folding up my tripod and ready to leave.
15: Clay oil lamp | Roof of First Century House The roof of this house has been reconstructed to show how many first century roofs were built. One can see how easy it would be to “uncover[ed] the roof where he was:and when they had broken it up, they let down the bed wherein the sick of the palsy lay.” (Mark 2:4)
17: Mount of Beatitudes A sandstorm had been blowing for several days causing reduced visibility and miserable conditions. Everything was covered with dirt and the water looked muddy. This storm was supposed to continue for three more days, and we would not be able to get the shots requested of us. Because of our limited time, we pleaded with the Lord for good weather. The next morning we got up to find He had answered our prayers and sent rain to clear the air. There was a light mist on the lake and a beautiful blue sky reflecting in the sea, creating this glorious scene. We prayed again in gratitude for the miracle of rain and clear skies. I thought of the many wonderful miracles and teachings that had taken place nearby, such as the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7), the healing of the blind and lame (Matthew 15:29-30), and the feeding of the four thousand (Mark 8:1-9). Looking out across this scene, I thought of how much the Savior must have loved this area and the people with which he spent so much time. | Parable of the Sower "And when he sowed, some seed fell by the way side...some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth...and some fell among thorns... but other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold,some thirtyfold. ( Matthew 13:4-8)
18: Wheat and Tares One can tell by the similarity in these plants how difficult it would be to identify which one is a tare before the wheat is ripe. All God’s children can decide whether to become like wheat or tares. Some choose to let in His light to help them grow and become like Him, and others choose differently. During the growing season He grants us agency and time to repent and change. Only at the harvest, when we are fully ripe as to righteousness or iniquity, will He make the final judgment who is to be burned and who is to be gathered into His kingdom (Matt13:24-30, 36-41).
19: Parable of the Mustard Seed "The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field; Which indeed is the least of all seeds; but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof." (Matthew 13: 31-32) The white specks are the seed and the yellow is fluff to carry it on the wind. This mustard tree is about 7 feet tall, but they can get up to 10 feet. Plenty large for a bird to rest in.
20: Kursi Tradition tells us that this is the area where Jesus cast a legion of spirits out of a man. “And the unclean spirits went out, and entered into the swine; and the herd ran violently down a steep space into the sea, (they were about two thousand;) and were choked in the sea.” (Mark 5:13) The hills at the top of the picture are supposed to be the area in which Jesus fed the five thousand.
21: Arbel Gap The funneling of the winds through this gap in the mountains increases their velocity. This can quickly and unexpectedly whip up dangerous waves on the Sea of Galilee. (Mark 4:37)
22: Be of Good Cheer, It Is I As the wind howled on the Sea of Galilee, I could visualize the Savior walking toward His toiling disciples (Mark 6:48). What a thrill it must have been when they recognized Him and realized that He had again taught them that He was Master of the elements. (Matthew 8:26-27) As I thought about this, the Spirit burned within me testifying that it happened. “But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with the waves; for the wind was contrary. And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea. But straightway Jesus spake unto them saying, Be of Good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.” Matthew 14:24-25,27
23: Lilies of the Field Lilies as we know them are not native to Israel. It has been suggested by several Bible scholars that the word lilies in the Greek Bible (from which the King James Version was translated) should have been bulb flowers. “And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” Matthew 6:28-29 | These beautiful scenes are typical of those Christ would have enjoyed as He walked from place to place during His ministry.
24: Dan The very beautiful and peaceful area of Dan is one of the headwaters for the Jordan River. The Savior may have walked through here on His way to or from Caesarea Philippi. Banias and Banias Falls Caesarea Philippi was built near the headwaters of the River Jordan. It is now in Hermon Stream (Banias) Nature Reserve at the foot of Mount Hermon. It was here that Peter testified that Jesus is the Messiah. “Thou are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” (Matthew 16:13)
25: Mount of Transfiguration “And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James and John his brother, and bringeth them up into a high mountain apart, and was transfigured there before them” (Matthew 17:1-2) Some think this “high mountain apart” is Mount Hermon because it is only six days after the discourse on revelation at Caesarea Philippi and Mount Hermon is nearby. Another possibility as the “high mountain apart” is Mount Tabor, which is set apart from other mountains in the valleys West of the Sea of Galilee. President Spencer W. Kimball tells us “it is not so important to know whether Mount Hermon or Mount Tabor was the transfiguration place but to know that on the summit of a high mountain was held a great conference of mortal and immortal beings, where authoritative keys were delivered and approval was given of the life and works of his only Begotten Son, when the voice of the Father in the overshadowing cloud said ‘This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.’ Matthew 17:5” (Spencer W. Kimball, “Galilee! Where Jesus So Loved To Be!”, Conference Report, April 1961) | Mount Hermon | Mount Tabor
26: Synagogue at Capernaum Christ taught in the synagogue (Mark 1:21) and performed many miracles in Capernaum. Yet, he cursed the city because of the unrepentant nature of its citizens. “And thou, Capernaum shalt be brought down to hell, for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.” (Matt. 11:23) | Synagogue at Chorazin He also visited Chorazin and probably taught in the synagogue and walked under this lintel. “Wo unto thee, Chorazin! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.” (Matt 11:21 ) I can’t help but wonder what those “mighty works” were which the people rejected or chose to ignore. Are we doing better, given the many blessings and wonders we witness, at believing, following and doing what we know He wants us to do?
27: Shepherd and His Sheep This picture taken in Bethlehem fields shows how sheep still follow their shepherd as in days of old. (John 10:3-4) It was interesting that while many followed Him closely, some did not. Notice it was the goats who insisted on wandering around in their own way. What type of follower am I?
28: First Century Temple in Jerusalem Sitting on the Mount of Olives, we tried to imagine the way the temple and surrounding area would have looked at the time of the Savior’s ministry. We could visualize Him coming over this road from Bethany on His way to teach in Jerusalem. How He must have loved the temple, the city and its people. And how He wanted to gather them into His loving embrace, but they rejected Him. “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem,how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not!” Luke 13:34 I used a model of the first century Jerusalem and temple and overlaid it on the Temple Mount to make this scene.
29: Ancient olive trees Notice how the new growth sprouts up through the trunk.
30: Pool of Siloam Jesus placed clay on the eyes of a blind man, telling him to go wash in the pool of Siloam. He showed his faith by doing as he was told and was healed. Only a small part of the pool has been excavated so far. (John 9:6-7) | Steps of Temple These steps on the south of the Temple are very likely one of the places Jesus would have walked and taught. To the upper right of the picture is the Mount of Olives which contained tombs and sepulchers even then. We could imagine the Savior using them as a visual aid as He taught, “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisee, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchers, which indeed appear beautiful outwardly but are within full of dead men’s bones...” (Matt 23:27)
31: Old Jerusalem streets- Davidson Center This street along the west side of the temple is one Jesus would have walked. It remained buried until recently when it was excavated to remove most of the rubble of the destroyed Temple. The Romans pushed over the walls of the temple about 70 A.D. until the stones filled the valley and there was no room to push any more. Note how the heavy stones crushed the road and the steps.
32: Western Wall of the Temple The Western wall of the Temple is as close as the Jewish people can come to where their temple was. They still put paper in the cracks and crevices of the wall with the names of friends and loved ones who need the faith and prayers of those who come to the temple to worship. It made me think that its origin came from an old principle from a previous temple period before it was destroyed. | Bird on Temple Wall This bird looked as though it was guarding the Temple.
33: Triclinium Traditional manner of eating at the time of Christ and probably used for the last supper. Reclining on pillows at the table would make it feasible for John to be " leaning on Jesus' bosom" (John 13:23).
34: Olive Press To get oil from olives, they are placed in a bag and crushed with relentless pressure in an olive press such as these until the oil flows. Gethsemane was the garden of the olive press. “Geth or gat in Hebrew means ‘press’. Shemon means ‘oil’.” (Truman Madsen, “The Olive Press”, Ensign, December 1982, pp.57-62) This symbolism of the olive press may help us sense some of what our Savior endured as the tissues in His body broke down to a point that He bled from every pore. We shot the press above at night with dramatic lighting to represent the time of the Savior's suffering. “Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit –and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink—.” D&C 19:18 | For Me a Sinner As I contemplated this scene of Gethsemane, I prayed diligently for guidance. We went back on several days searching the Mount of Olives for the right background. As I composed this scene I felt the Spirit touch my heart and testify again that He experienced this agony for me. Passover is at the time of a full moon in the spring,. We found that the Mount of Olives and many northern areas of the country that receive rain have an abundance of grasses and wildflowers.
36: Kidron Valley Most likely Christ would have been taken by the mob from Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives, through this, the Kidron Valley on the way to Caiaphas’ house. We took this shot at night because that was when he was arrested. Note the many graves and tombs as we saw in the daytime from the steps of the Temple.. The first tomb on the left is that of Absalom, David’s son. | Steps to Caiaphas’ House From the Kidron Valley and up these steps to Caiaphas’ house, Jesus was taken to be illegally judged by “...the scribes and the elders...” (Matthew 26:57)
37: Golgotha As we contemplated the photo of Golgotha we prayed that we could catch the light in such a way as to give the feeling of how it may have been on the day of the crucifixion. As we stood there the sun’s rays broke through the clouds to light the rock just perfectly to bring out the skulls on the face of the hill. I felt sorrow for what had been done to Him, but yet another side of me was thanking my Savior for volunteering to go through all this for me.
38: Garden Tomb The golden light of early morning brought out the beautiful color and texture in the wall of the tomb. This shot was taken as soon as the Garden opened to represent resurrection morning. The garden is near Golgotha, or as John puts it “in the place where he was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new sepulcher where was never man yet laid. There laid they Jesus” (John 19:41-42). President Harold B. Lee said in April conference 1972, “Something seemed to impress us as we stood there that this was the holiest place of all... That tomb has a mouth that could be sealed by a rolling stone, and there is a stone track built to guide a stone as it was rolled across the mouth of the tomb. The stone has now been removed, but the stone track is still there.” (Harold B. Lee, “I Walked Today Where Jesus Walked,” Ensign, May 1972) At Easter-time and with all the crowds in Israel that week, we felt very blessed to get these shots without people in them. We felt His spirit and a calming reassurance of the truth of His resurrection and that He lives. It was easy to visualize Him coming out of the tomb and His appearance to Mary.
39: Road to Emmaus Research on the location of the road to Emmaus has showed there are two possibilities. This, the more likely one, has an old Roman road running from Jerusalem which is still partially visible. This could be the road the resurrected Lord walked along with two disciples as “he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.” (Luke 24:27) tomb.
40: Peter's Third Call The resurrected Christ waited for Peter and the other disciples to return from fishing. After they ate, He asked Simon Peter “Lovest thou me?” three separate times. And three times Jesus told Peter to “Feed my sheep.” (John 21:1-17) Thinking how many times He called Peter, makes me wonder how many times He has called me and I have not responded. What am I spending my time on instead of “feeding His sheep”? | In each of the places we have shown in this book we felt the Lord's spirit testifying to us. We sincerely hope as you contemplate His life and pray, that your testimony will be strengthened of Jesus Christ as our Savior and Redeemer. He lives. He is there to help you to come home to Him and our Heavenly Father. We again thank Him for the testimony strengthening experiences we had in traveling to Israel and capturing these photographs. Jim and Celia Jeffery