“We are invited to make a pilgrimage – into the heart and life of God.”
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
John 14:6 NRSV
As a Literary Theme
The subject of pilgrimage is talked about in many of the writings that make up the Christian Bible. It’s a complex idea that includes things like a journey, being sent away, living as a pilgrim or sojourner, and looking for a home.
The Book of Genesis, which is part of the Old Testament and comes from Judaism, tells the story of Adam and Eve’s expulsion from the Garden of Eden after they disobeyed God by eating the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. This story is central to how Christians think about pilgrimage.
It turns out that the Fall of Adam and Eve had a lot of effects. Sin means that they and their descendants must live as exiles on a harsh and unfriendly planet, away from God and each other. Cain, Adam and Eve’s oldest son, kills his younger brother Abel out of jealousy when God says that Abel’s gift to God is better than his own. God sends Cain further away from his home and family as a punishment.
Old Testament Models
Several Old Testament trips had spiritual connotations. Abraham’s trip and the Exodus from Egypt highlight how crucial it is to believe and obey God.
Abraham, a significant figure in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, leaves his house to find a place God will show him. His determination to obey God makes him a “pilgrim” or “sojourner”
Israelites leave Egypt and travel through the wilderness to Canaan. They confront trials and God’s guidance.
The long trip through the desert to the Promised Land is a paradigm for the Christian’s trek from a damaged world to heaven. Over time, Jerusalem became a location to encounter God. All Israelite men had to travel to Jerusalem for Passover, Weeks, and Booths, and their families often accompanied them. Exile made travels to Jerusalem emotionally and spiritually vital.
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