Sleep came easy last night after traveling over a full day to get to Israel. Our wake-up call was at 6 AM, followed by breakfast, and boarding the bus at 7:30 AM.
Cana. Enroute to the Valley of Wind and Doves, we drove past Cana, where Jesus turned water into wine.
As we drive the highways of Israel, we are surprised at the number of mosques. We have seen them in every city which we have passed. Also to our surprise is that Muslims make up about 50% of Israel.
Valley of Wind and Doves. Our first stop was at the Valley of Wind and Doves, home of an ancient 22 mile road/trail between Nazareth and Capernaum on the north shore of the Sea of Galilee, where Jesus would certainly have walked. As part of Jewish custom, we broke bread and ate it sprinkled with salt. At the Valley of Wind and Doves, we had our first of many Gospel readings, devotionals, and prayers. (Note: This was the norm at all of our stops, and provided us an opportunity to “live” in Biblical times.) It was a bit overwhelming to think that we possibly walked along the same path that Jesus may have taken in his early days and ministry, and perhaps even stepped in his footsteps.
Magadala. Departing the Valley of Wind and Doves, we drove past Magadala, home of Mary Magdelene, towards Ginnosar.
Ginnosar. Next, we visited Nof Ginnosar, home of an Israeli National Museum, where we saw a 2000-year-old boat discovered in a 1986 drought. Boat size and type, carbon dating, and types of wood used for construction and maintenance indicate that it is likely this boat would have sailed the Galilean Sea during Jesus’s time. After viewing the ancient boat, we boarded a tour boat and traveled across the Sea of Galilee and saw, from the water, where much of Jesus’ ministry took place: including traditional sites where Jesus fed the 5000, met Simon Peter, Andrew, John, and James, where he had them cast their nets with results of an overwhelming of the nets, despite their just having cast the nets and coming up empty, and the Church of the Beatitudes commemorating Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount.
Church of the Beatitudes. After the boat ride we traveled to see these areas from land. The first was the Church of the Beatitudes, which preserves the memory of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:7). Interestingly, the Church of the Beatitudes was ordered built by Mussolini, even though he was an atheist. This Catholic church is in the shape of an octagon—8 sides—to reflect the 8 beatitudes.
Church of the Multiplication of Bread. This Catholic church is at Tabgha. An altar inside this church is thought by some to be the altar where Jesus placed the 5 loaves and 2 fish, feeding the 5,000 men, beside women and children (Matthew 14:13-21). (Note: While the altar is in the Catholic church in Tabgha, Bethsaida is the geographical location thought to be where the crowds were fed.)
The miraculous feeding of five thousand people is described in Mark 6:30-44, just before Jesus walks on water. The Gospel account of the loaves and fishes does not specify where it took place; only that it was in a “remote place” (Mark 6:32,35) on the shores of Galilee. According to Mark’s account, Jesus and his disciples had gone out in a boat to this remote place for some peace and quiet, but the crowds ran ahead “from all the towns” and met him when he landed. By then it was dinnertime and they were not in a village where food could easily be bought, so Jesus fed them all by miraculously multiplying his disciples’ five loaves and two fishes.
Church of the Primacy. Next we visited a third Catholic Church, thought to be near the site where Jesus had breakfast with the apostles following his crucifixion and resurrection, and where Peter was asked three times by Jesus, “Do you love me?” and directed by Jesus to “Feed my lambs … Tend my sheep” (John 21:15-17). (Note: we couldn’t help think of Randy’s sermon this past Sunday, which covered this very scripture.)
In John 21, Jesus appears to his disciples for the third time after his resurrection on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. The night before, Peter and several other disciples had sailed out on the lake to fish, but caught nothing. In the morning, a man appeared on the shore and called out to them to throw their net on the right side of the boat. Doing so, they caught so many fish they couldn’t drag the net back into the boat. At this point Peter recognizes Jesus, and promptly jumps out of the boat to wade to shore to meet him. The other disciples follow in the boat, dragging the net behind them. When they land, Jesus has prepared a charcoal fire for the fish and provided bread, and they have breakfast together (John 21:9). This is believed to have taken place on the mensa Christi, a large rock incorporated in the chapel. After breakfast, Jesus reinstated Peter (after his three-time denial of Jesus at the crucifixion) with the words “Feed my sheep” (John 21:15-19).
Capernaum. Our next stop was the ruins of Capernaum on the ancient Via Maris, road to the sea. Capernaum is frequently mentioned in the Gospels and was Jesus’ main base during his Galilean ministry. It is referred to as Jesus’ “own city” (Matthew 4:12-17; 9:1; Mark 2:1) and a place where he lived (Matthew 1:13). He probably chose it simply because it was the home of his first converts, Peter and Andrew (Mark 1:21, 29).
Capernaum is home to an old synagogue; the ruins presently seen date to 300 to 400 A.D. Kay read scripture inside the ruins.
Also of significance is that Capernaum is the site of Peter’s home, part of which is shown below the floor of the modern Catholic church built on the site, and where Peter’s mother-in-law was healed. Capernaum was also the site where the sick man was passed from rooftop to rooftop and lowered into a room for Jesus to heal, because the crowds were too thick on the streets.
Many familiar Gospel events occurred in this village. Capernaum is where Jesus first began to preach after the Temptation in the wilderness (Matthew 1:12-17) and called Levi from his tax-collector’s booth (Mark 2:13-17). It was while teaching in the synagogue of Capernaum that he said, “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6:54) Capernaum is where Jesus healed a centurion’s servant without even seeing him (Matthew 8:5-13; Luke 7:1-10), Peter’s mother-in-law (Matthew 8:14-15; Mark 1:29-30); the paralytic who was lowered through the roof (Mark 2:1-12), and many others who were brought to him (Matthew 8:16-17). And it was Capernaum that Jesus had set out from when he calmed a storm on the Sea of Galilee (Matthew 8:23-27). Jesus was harsh with his adopted home when it proved unrepentent despite his many miracles (Matthew 11:23-24).
Yardenit. We crossed the Jordan River near where it enters the Sea of Galilee, stopped for lunch, and made our last tour stop of the day, Yardenit, where the Jordan River leaves the Galilean Sea. Yardenit is used by large numbers of “pilgrims” from all over the world for baptism or renewal of baptism. All of our group had a service of renewal of our baptism, in the Jordan River.
We returned to our hotel in Tiberius for some time in the spa, dinner, and an early bedtime.
Photos of this trip may be seen at: https://picasaweb.google.com/DunnGoneTravels/IsraelAndJordan2011?authkey=Gv1sRgCIL-g8GBjtb-Lw&feat=directlink