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Plate 1 - Bethlehem in Early Spring

It was a day I shall never forget. We arrived on the hill overlooking Bethlehem while it was yet dark. What would it have been like the day Jesus was born? Snowy, wintry paradigms would soon melt away with the rising of the sun.

The beautiful hillside was covered with new red poppies. The greens were vibrant and fresh. In the distance a donkey started braying and here and there a dog was barking. The rooster started crowing and the land began to awaken. Nearby a flock of bleating, spring lambs could be heard. The ancient wall before us seemed to frame old Bethlehem. The date was April 6th, the true birthday of Jesus.

Years later this would become the photograph of Bethlehem used in the Church's publication of the scriptures.
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Plate 2 - Poppies in Abundance

Jesus's mortal life was relatively short; his ministry was but forty-two months. During that significant period He spent a good portion of His time in the Galilee, a region of Israel that is mostly below sea level.

These bright red poppies were photographed in the Galilee in the heart of the places Jesus knew so well. Their vibrant color always reminds me of the blood of Christ and Him crucified.

They bring to mind one of my favorite passages from Isaiah: "For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

"Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed."
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Plate 3 - Poppy Mix Judean Wilderness

This beautiful mix of a variety of flowers would brighten any home, but even more so to know where it was taken.

We spent 56 days on a Middle East photo shoot during Israel's wettest year in recorded history: 1992. Everything was different that year. The hillsides were green and covered with flowers even in the otherwise dry, desert locations.

This shot was taken in the wilderness of Judaea somewhere near the area where John the Baptist was preaching the gospel of repentance. "What went ye out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken with the wind? But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? behold, they that wear soft clothing are in kings’ houses.

"But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet. For this is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee."

We love the Lord because He can make of our dry, barren wilderness a fruitful garden.

I always pictured John preaching in an arid, desert place, but what if they had had a very wet year during his ministry?
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Plate 4 - Glorious Morning Hallelujah

No one knows for sure the actual tomb where Jesus Christ was resurrected, but this Garden Tomb, just outside the city walls of Jerusalem, certainly fits the description given in the scriptural accounts.

By special arrangements we were able to enter this sacred site long before sunrise one spring morning. It was amazing to carefully watch the early light as it began to change the colors and tones of the bedrock before us. I could not stop taking pictures. But then the morning rays began to filter through the trees as the sun rose from behind the Mount of Olives. It was within the first two minutes of that light this picture was captured.

I thought of Mary Magdalene as she was confused and sorrowing by the empty tomb. Perhaps somewhere in the purview of this photograph, she and the resurrected Savior met. "Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away. Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master."

Mary was the first witness of the resurrected Lord. He truly lives Who once was dead!
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Plate 5 - The Lost is Found

My wife and I hired a cast of natives in Israel to depict some scenes from the life of the Savior. We so wanted to capture the feeling from Luke Chapter 15: "What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?"

We were very familiar with this verse but as we were shooting I noticed two things from the story: 1) The Lord refers to a sheep, not a lamb, and 2) He doesn't hold it to His bosom, as we might imagine, he lays it on His shoulders. "And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing."

I loved how the Shepherd in the scriptural account could not contain His rejoicing: "And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost."

This was a very difficult shot. Adult sheep are very heavy and want to get away from a stranger at all costs. It took four strong men to get the sheep up onto the man playing the part of Jesus. Our direction was simply, "Show us how you think the Lord would have felt bringing one back who was lost."

Our amazing actor here is 28 years old and he was born and raised in Nazareth.
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Plate 6 - Fishers of Men Series 1

It was a perfect, golden-light morning on the Sea of Galilee that day. Our dear friend (who knows practically everyone in Israel) had arranged for a local fisherman to arrive at the shore by our hotel before sunrise. These things never seem to go quite as planned—but—it was 5:45 AM and around the corner came our fisherman. I wanted to take a lot of shots of him just fishing, but I wanted to capture him and his boat and nets looking into the rising sun over the Galilee. I needed to be out with him, but I could not be in the boat. There was the rub: I had not arranged for another boat to follow the fisherman from a distance. A man who was staying in our hotel gestured (no English) that he would be glad to row me around out there. Where was his boat? The eastern sky was pregnant with that pre-delivery glow of light. He pointed to a small, no, a very small item that was more like a large apple crate or a small bathtub, than a boat. I didn’t have any choice. We both climbed in and with our combined weight the sides of “the boat” were nearly to the water’s level. Notwithstanding, my oarsman rowed me out towards the fisherman, but on the wrong side. He thought I wanted the light to be shining on him with my back to the rising sun. I signaled in fast and swirling hand motions to turn around and I made the international symbol for shooting into the sun to create a silhouette—whatever that is. He got it. Within 30 minutes I had taken more than 600 shots. The scene was stunning. The images were magical. In this particular shot I wanted to capture the gentle motion of the oar as it slid into the water and splashed the warm water into the glowing sunlight. The fisherman was rowing in a circle and dropping his nets as he did so. This angle and moment perfectly captured what I had desired.

From these same waters, Jesus not only called James and John, Peter and Andrew, but here He would also walk.
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