MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — Pastor James Johnson with NorthStone Baptist Church in Pensacola just returned from a trip to the Holy Land and we start by talking about the most impactful part of the trip

Guest: You know of all the places we saw, probably for me, the most impactful would be Nazareth. I think it’s Nathaniel in John one who is recorded as asking the question can any good thing come out of Nazareth?

And the answer is resoundingly, yes, the Lord Jesus, of course, was raised in Nazareth, a born in Bethlehem.

To fulfill the prophecy of Micah 5:2, but then raised in Nazareth and one of the the the the places we stopped there in Nazareth had come.

Kind of just a unique way of presenting the history of their city, and so it really resonated with me understanding that Jesus was run out of Nazareth and they wanted him to do miracles in Nazareth as he had done in Capernaum, and he preached in the temple Isaiah. 61 and they did not like his message and so that impacted me, I think on a pretty personal level.

Anchor: Why is this an important trip for any person of faith?

Guest: We chat because it certainly grounds us even further in the word of God, like whether it’s the pool of Bethesda or any other place. I was so excited to be able to open my Bible and to stand, you know, to read John 5 maybe and then to stand and see the pool. Bethesda, I think it certainly helps us deepen our faith and strengthen us in our faith and then also it. It helps us understand Jesus as tears. You know when he was standing there at the Mount of Olives, and as just before his descent, the Bible includes that he wept over Jerusalem

Anchor: How this trip will improve your ability to preach?

Guest: Well, I think that you know the maps in the back of my Bible that have now come alive to me. You know, sometimes people just kind of overlook those, but now understanding kind of the geographical layout of Israel. When I get to two geographical locations in passages of Scripture and I’m preaching through a passage it mentions a geographical location, I think I’ll be able to add so much more. You know, for example, the idea of the gates of hell shall not prevail against the church, you know, Matthew 16. On this rock I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it. The Gates of hell as I’ve preached it in the past is the forces of evil that will not prevail against the church.

And while that’s true and many preachers preach that I learned that the gates of Hell is an actual location, and when Jesus and Peter had that dialogue Jesus points up to the gates of hell, it was a group of idolaters who were worshipping at a specific location of a false God named Pan, and so the gates of Hell Jesus tells Peter will not prevail against the church, and so I think having been to a lot of these places, it’s going to impact my preaching for the positive.

ANCHOR: Why is knowing this geography and knowing this history an important part of Christianity?

GUEST: Well, it does strengthen our faith and you know the highlight of the whole trip for me was to be able to stand at the empty tomb. And if Christ be not risen, then our preaching is vain, and our faith is vain, and we are yet in our sin. And to be able to stand there at the empty tomb and just to rejoice that we serve a risen savior that was probably my favorite part.