Day 07 - Galilee: Mount Arbel, Capernaum, Chorazin, Bethsaida
This morning, as we gathered together for morning prayer, Kim reminded us of a practice at All Saints Church each Sunday. One of our pastors moves to the center of the church for the reading of The Gospel and every person, young and old, turns their body, eyes, head, heart, and feet toward Jesus. As we began our first full day in Galilee, we were encouraged to turn our whole selves to Jesus in this place so dear and familiar to Him. Placing Jesus in the center as we trace His steps. Rod reminded us that this is where Jesus spent 90% of His ministry on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee.
We made our way to Capernaum, where there is so much to see! So many of Jesus’ teachings and healings, as well as some of our favorite stories, happened right here. We began by visiting the millstone for grinding wheat and an olive oil press for making olive oil. What is obvious to a person in Jesus’ day becomes clear to me by seeing these things in person. Rod led us to Matthew 18, where Jesus’ heart for children, metaphoric and literal children, is so evident. “If anyone causes one of these little ones to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and be drowned.”
Next, we visited a site where Libby explained how the Biblical text and archaeology intersect in a powerful way. It became so clear through archaeological evidence that we can have 9.5/10 confidence that this is indeed the house of Peter’s mother-in-law. This is where Jesus healed her illness. I especially love the part where as soon as she’s healed, she jumps back up to serve. And yet, I am lovingly reminded today that both then and now, hospitality and each person doing his or her own part in the Kingdom of Heaven is of utmost importance. My mind rushes back to Austin and my skeptical neighbor and conversations over coffee about whether or not the Bible is true. Maybe I can share with her what Libby has taught us today.
Later, we visited Magdala, a recent archaeological discovery (2014). This is the scene of one of my favorite people in the Bible, Mary of Magdala. Rod reminded us that all we really know about her is that she is from this area, and that she was potentially demon possessed. She had no identity, no Bet Av, no purpose, no future. Yet, after Jesus rescues her from darkness, she becomes His disciple and the first person to see the resurrected Jesus. Wonder of wonders, Mary of Magdala becomes the first apostle when Jesus tells her to “Go and tell!” Rod challenged us to ask ourselves: What have I seen and who will I tell?
After a delicious lunch of falafel and Magnum ice cream bars (my new favorite combo!), we headed to Mt. Arbel. Rod asked us, “Have you been in this place in your life? Alone, afraid, frustrated, and asking ‘where is Jesus?’” Rod took us back to the disciples on the Sea of Galilee where Jesus puts them on a boat and sends them across the lake. After spending time at the stormy beach earlier today, we can easily picture what the disciples were up against as they struggled for hours to get across.
All the while, Jesus was on Mt. Arbel praying for them. Father, would you imprint that image in my head as I struggle against the next storm that comes my way? Me in the boat, you praying. He always lives to intercede for them.
One of my favorite things has been learning about synagogue school for kids in Jesus’ day. Doesn’t it amaze you that Jewish kids ages 5-10 memorized large portions of the Torah? I am so humbled and challenged by this and so encouraged by the great value Jewish families and teachers placed on learning the Word - hiding it in their hearts. One of my favorite quotes from the day is from Dawson Trotman, founder of the Navigator Ministry. He said, “Where are the men and women who love God and God’s Word and who say to the next generation, ‘Follow me as I follow Christ?’”
I walked away from the bus today and heard Jesus whispering in my ear: "This is for you, Lori. Teach these kids to love my Word."
by Lori Shamblin