So that I can bring others to him!
Shalom Ben Israel!
Wow! What an incredible trip this has been! The Lord has been gracious to teach me so much. Right now, we are in the upper region of Israel, called Galilee. This is where the majority of Jesus’ ministry happened. We have gotten to see the Sea of Galilee where many of these bible stories have taken place. We have quite literally walked where Jesus walked. This morning I looked at the sea and leaned over to tell my friend that I was baffled at how the disciples were terrified at the Sea of Galilee. The Sea of Galilee is actually a lake. The lake is smaller than you think it would be. You can see clear to the other side. In my pridefulness, I scoffed at the disbelief and terror that the disciples experienced while out on the sea.
For our second site today we got to climb Mount Arbel. This mountain is the only mountain in this sector of land. While early this morning we had clear skies, it very quickly turned into a rainy and stormy day. We are hiking this mountain and it’s slippery, wet, and there is rain everywhere in sight. We get to the very top and the clouds had just moved enough so that you can see the entire region of Galilee. It was stunning. As we look out over the cliff, we see the choppiness of the waters and see some boats that are far enough away from the shore that they are stuck on the waters. It looks terrifying. We talk about how we are helpless and are asked what if we saw the boats out there and could do something to help them. I could hardly imagine it. I felt helpless.
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.
One of our last sites we went to Tabgha. This is where scholars think that Jesus asked Peter to come be a fisher of men, where Jesus walked on water and where Jesus told Peter to cast his nets to the right side of the boat. We talked about how Peter wasn’t always the best follower. That Jesus asked Peter 3 separate times to follow him. On the third time he asked, Peter believed that Jesus was the Messiah and became one of his disciples. After we heard this story we walked down to shore. I could see the choppiness of the waves.
Two miles west of Capernaum is what Josephus referred to as the “well of Capernaum.” Undoubtedly a popular fishing spot of the locals because of its famous “seven springs,” Heptapegon (today the name has been corrupted to Tabgha) is the traditional location for several episodes in Jesus’ ministry.
Our last site we went to where we think the sermon on the mount happened, or at least a place that is similar to it. We broke off into groups to read the passage but as we started, we could see lightning and hear the thunder. He had to very quickly descend the mountain. It was wet and slick. There was a bright flash of lightning and I could feel the sense of urgency and fear of getting out of the storm that was rolling towards us.
Mount of Beatitudes
The so-called “Sermon on the Mount” is recorded in Matthew 5-7 and Luke 6. The alleged discrepancy between Matthew’s version being on a hill and Luke’s being on a level place is easily reconciled with observation of many level places on the Galilean hillsides. Scripture gives no indication of the exact location of this event, but the Byzantines built a church to commemorate it at the bottom of the hill. Some of Napoleon’s men placed it on the nearby Arbel mountain.
As I reflected on these 3 sites, I realized something. One, that I’m so prideful to think that I’m not like the disciples. To think that I am better than them because the lake and storm didn’t seem that scary. I got to see and hear the sea when it’s in a little storm. I can’t even imagine what it’s like in a big storm. Two, that I’m more similar to Peter than I thought. At times, I’m not a great follower. If I look back in my life, there are 3 times where I was asked to follow Jesus. Once when I was in the 4th grade, another time when I was going into college and the third time when I was going into my sophomore year of college. After that point, I said “Yes! I want to follow you Jesus. You are the messiah and I’m going to live for you.” Third, I realized today how much I actually love Jesus. So here we are in Israel. The very place where Jesus walked... wow. I can hardly believe I’m here. The Lord is gracious to let me be here. But I’m realizing he didn’t bring me here for me. He brought me here so that I can bring others to him. I cannot wait to see what the next week holds.
Written by Taylor Priddy
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