Footsteps of Jesus
As disciples of Jesus, it is important to follow in His footsteps and obey His commands. Today we literally got the opportunity to walk in the footsteps of Jesus and His disciples around the land of Galilee. After our usual morning routine of breakfast and devotion, we headed to the west side of the Sea of Galilee to the base of Mt. Arbel, an example of a desolate place that Jesus would go to be alone and pray. A long, difficult hike awaited us as we looked up this mountain ready to follow our leader. Some parts of this hike were very difficult, as you can probably see in some of the pictures below, but upon reaching the top we were overwhelmed at the view of the Sea of Galilee and the surrounding region. As we looked out over the mountain, we talked about prayer. Jesus specifically chose to set his ministry in this small, yet influential place which was full of diversity, culture, trade, and people from all over. He was followed by many people through his time here in the Galilee region, and one thing we see in Scripture is that He would often retreat to a quite place to be alone with God. We explored God’s Word to see what it said about prayer and we were challenged this morning to evaluate the prayer in our lives. If Jesus made it such priority to get away to pray, we should be intentional about prioritizing time in our day to be alone to talk with the Lord and hear Him speak to us.
Mount Arbel (Hebrew: הר ארבל, Har Arbel) is a mountain in The Lower Galilee near Tiberias in Israel, with high cliffs, views of Mount Hermon in the Golan Heights, trails to a cave-fortress, and ruins of an ancient synagogue. Mt. Arbel sits across from Mount Nitai; their cliffs were created as a result of the Jordan Rift Valley and the geological faults that produced the valleys.
After lunch (and ice cream!) we went to Capernaum, the ministry home of Jesus. We see many times in the gospels that Jesus does a lot of His ministry here and in the surrounding region. We were able to view an old Synagogue from the 4th century A.D. which had a layer from the first century A.D. We learned about the Jewish education process for children and the ways of following a rabbi. Jesus was a rabbi with authority and His yoke was easy and His burden was light, unlike the Jewish rabbis at the time. He chose His disciples intentionally to follow Him and they did. Just as young Jewish boys may follow a Rabbi and strive to learn from him and look like him, we should strive to follow Jesus and look more like Him every day. Jesus called His disciples at a young age to follow Him and do great things for His kingdom. While we were here we also toured around the town and viewed some pretty neat archaeological discoveries!
Jesus made Capernaum his home during the years of his ministry: “Leaving Nazareth he went and lived in Capernaum” (Matt 4:13).
Peter, Andrew, James and John were fishermen living in the village. Matthew the tax collector also dwelt here.
Capernaum is one of the three cities cursed by Jesus for its lack of faith.
Our next experience was in the town of Chorazin. Jesus did some of His ministry here as well, and the main picture that we got here was that of heaven and the insula, or courtyard with several rooms around it that families lived in together in towns like Chorazin. We looked at the way that marriage was treated during the time of Jesus, and how that corresponded with Christ being the bridegroom and us awaiting His return to take us home. We also explored another synagogue and the surrounding insulas that had been excavated. We then went to Bethsaida. Known as the “house of fishing”, this town was the home of a few of the disciples that Jesus called to follow Him. This was where ordinary boys grew up, played in the streets, went to school, and one day were called to go follow Jesus. They were called to deny themselves, take up their cross, and follow Christ. We see from Scripture and historical records that their lives did indeed look a lot like Jesus. They preached, healed, prayed, and even died like Jesus. There was nothing too spectacular about this town as we walked through it, but Jesus came here, and the result changed the world!
The synagogue at Chorazin is a typical “Galilean” style synagogue. These synagogues are characterized by 1) a basilical shape with three hallways separated by two rows of pillars; 2) three doorways and the central one is the largest; 3) benches around the interior walls; 4) a stylobate to support the weight of the arches.
Our final stop of the day was the Jordan River. This was an amazing experience to end the day with, and we even had one lady from our group decide to be baptized this evening in the river! What a celebration we had as we finished our fifth day here in Israel! We cannot wait to see what the Lord has for the coming days as we continue to journey through the land and hear from Him.
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