Don't forget to not forget, dedication to and unity in the church is our protection and our power
"When they came to Jesus, they saw the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. Those who had seen it told the people what had happened to the demon-possessed man - and told about the pigs as well. Then the people began to plead with Jesus to leave their region. As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him. Jesus did not let him, but said, "Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you." So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed." -An excerpt from Mark 5
Today was an extremely busy day and we were able to see many of sites, including an additional site not on the itinerary that I will share with you at the end. We started our day off early with wake up and breakfast and then had our first stop right where we are staying, Ein Gev. Here we heard from Pastor Steve about the passage that I just shared with you and how that took place somewhere along the very hillside in which we are staying. It makes this place feel even more special now than before knowing that Jesus stood here and used his authority to cast out demons and to conquer the waters.
Once we completed this, we hopped on the bus to start the day's journey. All of our stops for today were along the Sea of Galilee which gave an amazing view wherever we stopped.
We arrived at Mt. Arbel around 9 this morning which gave us a good amount of time here. The views and sights from the top of the mountain were incredible! As you can see from the pictures it seems to never end. We learned of two different stories here on Mt. Arbel. Although this could be argued by some, it is possible that the Beatitudes were given to the people by Jesus on this mountain instead of the Mt. of Beatitudes. But we just stuck with tradition and took in the scenery. This is located on the northern coast of the sea of Galilee and from here you can visibly see the few sites that Jesus spoke almost 70% of the words of his ministry at. From Magdala, the home of Mary Magdalene (which Dan told us is a mistranslation and instead should be Mary of Magdala), to Capernaum, Jesus' hometown during his adult life and ministry.
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 marveling at the views for a while and having some time to sit down quietly, write and read, we got back into the bus and made our way to the next stop, Chorazin. This was an amazing archeological site where a synagogue and a number of insulas were found. The synagogue was built in the 1st century but was later added onto in about the 3rd century. The architecture and carvings were amazing. Now some of you may be wondering what an insula is. An insula is a family unit that was a large home that could hold three generations and was continually built upon to include more family members. This really brought to life the meaning of the phrase, "In my Father's house, there are many rooms." There was always room to build more rooms for new family members coming in. Pastor Steve also talked about how this unity of a family can be seen in the church. The church was made for us as a spiritual defense as well as it gives us power.
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.
After this, we were able to look around for a bit before getting into the bus and heading off to lunch. We stopped at a restaurant and had ourselves some great Falafel for lunch. If you don't know what it is, look it up! It was quite good.
Making our way from there, we stopped at Tabgha. Here was the site that Jesus' called his first disciples, Simon called Peter, his brother Andrew, James and John sons of Zebedee, in Matthew 4:18-22, Mark 1:16-20, and Luke 5:1-11. We were able to see some impressive churches built by different groups of people over time. Here Pastor Steve taught us that unlike the Rabbis of the time who wanted the brightest students possible, Jesus called those who would be the most moldable and would give all the glory to God. He talked about the come and see stage where the disciples called one another to come see if Jesus was really the one. Then came the come and serve stage where the disciples were giddy and excited to start the ministry with Jesus. Lastly, was the come and suffer stage where the disciples learned that this wasn't going to be a walk in the park and that Jesus was asking his disciples to give it all to him, even their lives. We were given time to break out and ask ourselves a few questions about what stage we might be in today.
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 second to last stop of the itinerary took us to Capernaum, the hometown and base of Jesus' adult life and ministry. This was also the city that Matthew the tax collector and soon one of Jesus' disciples was from. This was a very important city in the region and a large place for trade. Here we saw the amazing synagogue of Capernaum. The most amazing thing I would say at this site was what is almost 100% sure to be Peter's house and the place that Jesus' stayed and taught for 3 years. The house was uncovered and you can see the inner room where Jesus stayed. All this is underneath a church that was built directly on top of it so that it is completely protected. To imagine Jesus' living right there and were he called home for three years is truly miraculous. Pastor Mike was able to read to us the story of the centurion coming to Jesus to heal his daughter and the woman that had suffered bleeding was healed. This all happened right under our feet and the way that Mike described it, made the story come to life and stick with us.
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.
Lastly we made our way to the Mt. of Beatitudes. Another breath taking site to see with a great time of being able to read through the first part of the sermon on the mount and talk through the 8 blessed are the statements that Jesus makes here. If you have the chance, read through the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5, 6, and 7. This had another amazing view of the Sea of Galilee.
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.
Now for the surprise that Dan gave us because we had some extra time, we got to see the 2,000 year old fishing boat found buried in the sea of Galilee! Although it was anything but whole, you could see the framework and the time that it must have taken this fisherman to keep it afloat. Who knows, maybe this was one of the boats that Jesus taught from or calmed the stormy seas in. This was a neat side stop that we were not expecting to see and it made a great end to the day. After a nice meal at the resort, everyone settled down to get some rest before we start another early day tomorrow.
Please pray that as the Coronavirus is spreading rapidly throughout different countries that God would provide a way for us all to enjoy the rest of our trip with no worry and that he will get us home safe and sound whether that be Oklahoma, North Carolina, or Michigan.
In Christ Alone,