...because he taught with authority.
Yesterday, we were In the desert, barren and dry, and without Our Lord. Today, we met Jesus at the Sea of Galilee.
We left our kibbutz and headed to the area where Jesus spent the majority of his life. Our first stop, Chorazin, the small community that Jesus rebuked for their lack of repentance, was the backdrop to our introspection on our own response to Jesus. May we not be lukewarm, living the easy life upon the wide road...”for small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life.”
We climbed up the steps to the synagogue at Chorazin, encouraged not to use the hand rails. The steps were purposefully built to force us to pay attention to where we were going and to prepare us to enter a place of worship. We gathered as others did, so many years ago, and imagined the young Jesus reading the Scriptures, fulfilling their purpose.
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.
Next, we went to the Mt. of Beatitudes, or Blessings. Most of Jesus’ teachings were done on hillsides or near the seashore, and Judy, Jeremy and Ken took us there as they read Matthew 5, 6 and 7. “And the crowds were amazed at his teaching, because he taught with authority.” May we be wise and build our lives on the Rock, not the sand.
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.
We headed to Tabgha, “Seven Springs” next, and sat along the shore. Tropical skies, the air was humid, and misty. This was a place where many miracles had been performed. It was the place where Jesus told Peter to let down his nets even after a hard night’s fishing. “ But at your word, Jesus, I will let down our nets.” Found on a small plaque nearby it read... “The deeds and miracles of Jesus are not actions of the past. Jesus is waiting for those who are still prepared to take risks at His word because they trust His power utterly.” May we be reminded that God uses the ordinary.
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.
We then traveled to the town of Capernaum, the “Town of Jesus,” where we took in the decorations on the stone found in this wealthy town. The carved pomegranates, grapes and figs, the menorah, David’s shield, and even the Hellenistic ark of the covenant. We toured the synagogue and church there as well.
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.
On our way to our last stop for the day, we stopped by a fast food place in Magdala for a delicious falafel. Yum! At our destination, Mount Arbel, we ascended the arduous path to the summit, as Jesus did, seeking a time of solitary prayer; a time of intentional rest; “inlet time.” The majestic, billowy clouds that hung over the Sea of Galilee beckoned us close, as we all went off to meet our God personally. We looked out over Magdala, the Mount of Beatitudes, Chorazin, and Bethseda, overcome with His Presence and His love for us and the people who inhabited the land below.
The Collins Family