The notion that Jesus was born in a straw-filled manger at a stranger’s home surrounded by livestock is thoroughly tested by Expedition Unknown host and explorer Josh Gates, who is in the Holy Land for Easter Week.
His discovery is awe-inspiring and something few people in the United States have seen. The footage we are treated to is shot up close and feels extremely intimate and personal. You can see it all in our exclusive clip below.
As Josh enters the beautiful church, he explains where he is and what is about to happen on Wednesday’s can’t-miss Expedition Unknown.
There is a palpable heaviness in the air around Josh as he walks through the beautifully adorned church interior. He is clearly moved by his ornate and curated surroundings and says: “It is so beautiful!”
His guide explains they are inside the oldest standing church in the Holy Land, said to have been built on the exact spot of Jesus Christ’s birth.
Gates says: “And like the [Church of The] Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem we have the Emperor Constantine to thank for it. After he made Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire in the year 325 AD, [Constantine] he sent his mother Helena here to preserve and memorialize the events of Jesus life. And this was one of the first places she found.”
Inside the church, Gates’ guide says: “After his mother [Helena] who was at the site here…and [who] discovered the site of the birth…”
Gates notes that according to scholars and tradition: “This miraculous birth happened underneath us…right?”
His guide confirms this: “[Yes] right happened underneath us exactly just there.” The two men are silenced from the powerful energy given inside this holy spot.
Then Gates points down the stairs. The guide asks Josh if he would like to come and see what was below?
Gates is lead down ancient stone steps to the place that Helena discovered. The purported location of the Nativity. He is floored.
He says: “Absolutely stunning this is right…that’s it… this is the spot?”
His guide says: “Yes it’s the spot.”
Gates says: “The accepted birthplace of Jesus Christ… the Star of Bethlehem, absolutely amazing and you know what’s so remarkable about this is that it’s not at all what most people I think would expect.”
He adds: “I think of that story from Sunday School and I remember there was no room at the inn, and so Mary and Joseph they stay in a manger…And there’s hay on the ground and there’s donkeys or there’s animals this feels more like we’re in a cave.”
His guide confirms Gates’ observations and says: “In fact, it is a cave…this idea that they went to the inn and they didn’t find any space actually… the inn is the guest room
Gates interrupts: “So… this is not like an inn like they were going to the Motel 6 and they were sold out?”
The guide laughs quietly at this description and says: “No not at all… absolutely like it was some sort of guest lodging, but this would probably have been one of their relatives or friends’ homes.”
He surmises that they likely had found the guest room occupied and adds: “So they had to go down into a cave in order to give birth here in this place. Many people back in the 1st century would use caves or grottoes for protecting their animals.”
Make sure to tune in on Wednesdays as Gates gives us amazing access to places few will ever see in their lifetime.
Expedition Unknown airs Wednesdays at 9 PM ET/PT on Discovery Channel.