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Israel, Day 3

Today was an easier day - not as much walking, but still long. Today's itinerary focused around Jesus' time in the Galilee. It was powerful. My favorite quote today was from a pastor who gave a devotional at the start of the day as we cruised the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee):
"Today we'll hear about many places where was supposed to have walked, but here on the Sea of Galilee, is the only place we can say for sure that He waked here."

Yam Kinneret (Sea of Galilee, Sea of Tiberias)

We began out day here with an early morning cruise in a "Jesus Boat" from Tiberias. Great way to start the day! The lake got it's name because it is shaped like a harp, "kiner" in Hebrew. Yam Kinneret is a fresh body of water fed by the Jordan which has it's head at the base of Mt Hermon and 3 springs feed it. The mouth of the Jordan at Kinneret divides the "us" section the Galilee (Jews) and the "other" (Gentile) Galilee, where the "decapolis" (ten Roman cities) were located (which is where the Golan Heights are today). Today's trips were all around the lake.

Mount of Beatitudes
This is the traditional site of Jesus' teaching in Matthew 5-7. It's thought that due to it's proximity to Capernaum. The Catholic church erected a beautiful chapel on the site. The interior of the chapel is an octogon in recognition of the 8 "blessings." This chapel is also known as the "Church of Mussolini" as it was built during his reign in Italy. Pope John Paul II visited in this site in 2000. Directly across the Kinneret you can see Mt Harbel (sp?), the traditional site of Jesus' all-night prayer vigil.

Dad commented during a group devotion at this stop about the beauty of the surroundings and the birds chirping. He then noted how in the message delivered here Jesus said, "Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?...And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these...seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well."(Matthew 6:25-34)

"The Jesus Boat"
We visited a museum that housed the nearly complete remains a of fishing vessel carbon dated to the 1st century. Quite mazing to find something like that intact. Cool thing was getting to meet the man who actually found the boat. He signed a book for me. Not much chance that Jesus actually was on this specific boat. Although, this boat could have sunk during a maritime conflict between the Romans and the Jews that took place on the lake in 66 AD.

"Mensa Christos" - Peter's Primacy
Ever since my friend Shawn Stewart visited here, I couldn't wait to make this stop. It's the likely location of Jesus' post resurrection breakfast with the fishing disciples, thus the name Mensa Christos - "the Lord's table.". The story is found in John 21. I had the privilege of giving a devotion to the group about Peter's interaction with the Lord and how Jesus removed Peter's shame and restored honor. My favorite place so far.

This "city of" ("capher") Nahum" (the OT prophet) served as Jesus' ministry base in the Galilee. More is recorded in this one location than any other. It's here that Jesus lived, even possibly with Peter. The remains of the Peter's house are here. They are fairly certain this is the actual location because the long tradition of this being the site that has been held back in from the end of the first CE. This was that largest city in the area due to it's proximity to the Via Maris. It housed a tax collector (Matthew) and a Roman Centurion whose servant Jesus healed. In his gratitude, this Centurion build a synagogue for the city whose foundation has been excavated and a 4th CE AD synagogue was built on top of it.

Despite the many miracles Jesus did here, healings of Peter's mother-in-law, the woman with the issue of blood, a leper,and Jarius' daughter who was raised from the dead, Jesus eventually cursed the city because of it's unbelief. It is the best excavated location in the Galilee.

The Jordan River

There was a baptismal service in the Jordan River to end the day. I wish I had known ahead of time that I could have participated. My brother-in-law Tim did, and it was really cool. Jayme and I did place wade into it, and as minnows nipped at our feet, we prayed for God's spirit to be poured out on us in a fresh way.

My thoughts from today...
- If ever I lead a tour in Israel, I would go to Mensa Christos before breakfast for a devotion, and after lunch, do another while cruising the lake in the afternoon. I'd end the day in the Jordan like we did today.
- While looking at the pebbled shore at Peter's Primacy, I was reminded that Jesus said to Peter, "Upon this rock, I will build my church..." I believe the Holy Spirit spoke to me that each one of those little stones on the shore were lives He wanted to use to build "the Church" on, but people are so burdened with shame that they can't see themselves as being worthy. If Jesus has not confronted Peter here, Peter (who did truly love the Lord despite his denial of Christ earlier) would have served God's purposes out of the obligation of shame and not the freedom that comes with having one honor restored.
- 10 Jewish men constitute a "synagogue." It's not a building, it's a gathering. It was in Capurnaum, in the shadow of the building that Jesus was partly responsible for it's construction via he Centurion Jesus changed the requirements when He said, "where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them."

Funniest line from our tour guide..."You know, Peter denied Jesus because he was still mad that Jesus healed his mother-in-law." :-)

Tomorrow we head for Jerusalem...

PS: To view all our photos from today, CLICK HERE

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