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An Elvis Holy Land Tour?

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It may surprise you to hear that Elvis Presley Enterprises is hosting a tour of the Holy Land.

When I read of the tour in the news, my response was, “It’s about time.” Elvis fans have been in Israel for years. In fact, Elvis has his own diner there.

The Elvis Inn in Israel

(Photo: The Elvis Inn in Israel. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, we pulled off Highway 1 into the parking lot of the Elvis American Diner (a.k.a. “Elvis Inn”). I exited the motor coach and looked up beneath the 16-foot-tall bronze likeness of The King. (Elvis was Jewish, I’m told.)

Inside the diner, every inch of wall held pictures, postcards, LPs and all manner of Elvis memorabilia. Graceland would be proud.

  • The music? Only Elvis, of course.
  • Hungry? Grab an Elvis Burger or an All Shook Up Breakfast.

I sat at a table next to a life-sized statue of the Big E. When Cathy pulled out the camera, I couldn’t help but raise one eyebrow and curl my lip for a smile. We left with some laughs, including my favorite line: “Blue Suede Jews.”


(Photo By Diane Turner from Arlington, United States, via Wikimedia Commons)

The diner reminded me of when Cathy and I ate at the Hard Rock Café in Dallas. The deafening music that night was hardly favorable to a romantic dinner (“I SAID, ‘YOU LOOK LOVELY TONIGHT, SWEETHEART!’”). Built in what used to be the old McKinney Avenue Church, the Dallas café kept the building’s religious look and feel. It even added a few of its own “sacred” elements, including a 50-foot- high stained-glass window of Elvis (yes, stained glass). This is still a house of worship, I thought.

In a gift shop in Bethlehem I saw a bust of Elvis Presley for sale, and I had to grin. I called over the owner, a proprietor who can smell a tour bus a mile away, and asked, “Is that Elvis?” He laughed and corrected me.

“That’s Joseph Smith.”

“Oh . . . I see.” I had never noticed before the resemblance between the king of rock ’n’ roll and the founder of Mormonism. I guess the upturned collar threw me. The owner could see my disappointment and promptly offered a solution.

“But if you like it, it’s Elvis!”

As I think about Jesus coming to Israel that first Easter week, He probably seemed a strange, displaced “king.” Kind of like Elvis does in Israel today. Odd. Incompatible. Almost profane.

Jesus didn’t fit their expectations of a king. His own family thought He was nuts. And the religious leaders? They blamed Satan. Jesus disappointed most everybody.

Even His disciples stumbled over their expectations of who Jesus should be.

We all do.

Tell me what you think: What expectations do/did you have of Jesus that He hasn’t met? To leave a comment, just click here.

Walking in the Footsteps of JesusLike This Post? Get the Whole Book!

This post is adapted from Wayne’s book, Walking in the Footsteps of Jesus: A Journey Through the Lands and Lessons of Christ.

• Enjoy an engaging, inspiring, and humorous travelogue that mingles the life-changing truths of Jesus with a walking tour of the Holy Land.

Experience the Holy Land through the sights, sounds, and tastes of this personal travelogue, and discover how these sacred places influenced the lessons Jesus taught.

You will discover lessons Jesus has for your life.


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