This fourth day of adventure was certainly that. We had more stops today than a school bus! Let’s see if we can give a short summary of the experience. We started off in Susita. This would be the place where Jesus commands the demons to come out of the man and after doing so, the demons went into the pigs and fell off the cliff (Mark 5:1-20). Now this Sea of Galilee… it's so beautiful as it is surrounded with the most beautiful mountains that are covered in green vegetation all around and some of the mountains have cities within them. Pastor Marshall taught on the waves and storms of life, and how sometimes we feel like the demon possessed man who experienced isolation when the people in our life stay away from us amid our storms. Marshall encouraged us to not miss the miracle in life because you experience seasons of loss. We focused on how this demon-possessed man was physically and spiritually made whole. What in your past has wrecked and tormented you? After the man was set free, he begs Jesus to come with. However like a younger sister on a Friday night, he was left behind. It may sound rough to be told no by Jesus, but that "no" allowed the man to tell his story to the people. We were faced with three questions: 1) Who are you sharing your story with? 2) What are you holding onto that is holding you back in life, and 3) who can you pray for? From this cliff of the mountain, we preceded our way to Chorazin.
Chorazin saw over half of Jesus' miracles. However, just because you see Jesus move doesn’t mean you are moving with Him. They were listed in the Bible on the “naughty list.” You can check that list twice, but you will still see in Matthew 11:20-22, Jesus was not happy with this town. Its basalt rocks lay in ruins. This, like many of the places we visited today, dropped many jaws. To hear Ronen, challenge our Western mindset of what a carpenter was shook our frontal lobes like a tornado in a trailer park. He asked, “how many trees do you see here--- how many trees have you seen in any of our sites?” Our response was not many. He then asked, “how much rock do you see?” Friends, rock is all over the place. Everything is made from rock and stone. Stonework is in the carpenter’s hand not wood.
Pastor Bob directed our attention to chart 10 regarding the insula in the Roman world which referred to community living. The word "house" in Scripture often referred to family. It’s the people not the building. We looked at prodigal son (Luke 15) from the standpoint of communal living. Imagine hearing your son say he is leaving and wishes you were dead so that he can have his inheritance. Everyone else heard those words when the dad did. Everyone knows what is happening. People are talking and the parents questioned? Then the son comes back, but not only dad seen him coming back, the communal living seen him too. People are whispering and asking the dad what will he do? The communal village has more questions than Judge Judy. Keep in mind that in Christ, we are a family. We are an insula. Eph. 2:18-19 reminds about who we are in Christ. Doesn’t matter who or where you are from, you are members of His household.
Who would want to see the place where Jesus spoke? Apparently, every tourist in Israel! There were more charter tour buses in the parking lot than members of TD Jakes' church. A field of banana trees were growing down below us about two football fields away as we settled in an upper courtyard to hear PC teach. He walked us through the beatitudes starting at Matthew 5:1-6:13. The challenge was to be pure in heart so we can see God (5:8), and when you do, you will cheerfully be the salt and light of the earth (5:13-14). The next segment was heavy as he challenged us from Jesus’ words of loving our enemies (5:43). Jesus said that to a crowd of people who were treated violently by Roman soldiers. Once we know how to love our enemies as we live as salt and light, we can give to the needy without blowing our own horn (6:1-4). When we do those well, we will understand that the “Lord’s prayer” (6:9-13) is not a formula, but it reflects these attributes that we can pray into our lives daily. Which of those concepts could you work on?
A short five minute from our Beatitude experience we came to the magnificent area a stone’s throw away from where Jesus called His first disciple. Imagine being by a small rocky beach front with no sand but brush trees and rocks that left just a small enough opening to see the sea. Three little children were playing 8 yards away and church bells were ringing in the air. Even though you can’t see the bells or any building at all we knew what we were hearing. Pastor Bob talked about the calling of Jesus’ four first disciples who were not good enough to follow any other Rabbi, but were bold enough to follow Jesus. You may be wondering why would Jesus select four fishermen to share His earthly ministry? These guys knew how to work with tilapia and sardines, what could they possibly know about walking with people? Perhaps they would understand that there are many kinds of people who needed to be treated different just like different fish go after different bait. How do we go after different people as disciples of Christ? These guys were fishing when Jesus called them; what were you doing when He called you? Don’t forget His calling to you! Live from your story of being called. We grabbed a stone and wrote something on it.
We made it to Capernaum! Yet again, Pastor Bob gave another teaching. Pastor Bob gave more teachings than a monastery monk today. If your eyes could have seen this place, this place, this place. A beautiful partial synagogue standing across from the place where it is credited to be an early house church. This is probably the synagogue where Jesus taught. Back in the day, a lot of devout Jews would have been here as well as the Pharisee Gamaliel. The Centurion’s servant would have been healed here (Luke 7:1-10). The Roman soldier has more faith than anyone else and believes what Jesus can do. Do you submit to the authority and power of Christ? Do you believe in His teachings? If He called to leave everything and to follow Him boldly, would you? What is holding you back from following Christ fully?
We left Capernaum and took a drive up into the mountain through Tiberias to Mt. Arbel. After learning from Marshall about Herod killing 5,000 Jewish rebels on this mountain it was time for us to climb it. We stopped a couple of times on our way up as Marshall shared more. The wind persecuted us we walked up this mountain. We have seen kites not blown as much we were. This mountain top is called prayer mountain. Jesus would come up to this place. He would pray for his disciples here. How do we pray for our children and for those who we are called to lead? As Marshall taught on prayer at the top, onlookers walked up and took a listen and in the distant it was then a call to prayer began to exude the air.
Marshall reminded us that, after prayer from this mountain top, Jesus walked on water and then got in the boat with disciples who were rowing and going nowhere. What struggles in you life are leaving you straining and going nowhere? Trust the Lord to get in the boat with you. Your arms may get tired but keep rowing like Dory kept swimming. Now, we would like to tell you what this surreal scenery was like up there. However, we are convinced that no English words could describe it beauty and grandiosity. The only word that could adequately describe what we seen was, as Pastor Bob articulated, is Holy.
We took a boat ride to the other side of the lake. We laughed, danced, posed for pictures, and some couples had a twinkle in their eyes for each other. Pastor Marshall read the story, Jesus went up the mountain side, and sent the disciples on ahead. When their time of struggling got them nowhere He permitted Peter to GET OUT OF THE BOAT. Are there any areas that you need to get out of the boat today as you trust Jesus more? Until next time -- Leroy Childress
Featured Signature Tour
Sep 3-14, 2023
Experience Israel for 11 days in the context of biblical history and personal faith.