My first full day in the land of the bible has been amazing. The flight to get here was long. We left Newark New Jersey around 10:30 Sunday night and arrived in Tel Aviv around 4:30 pm on Monday, it was a long flight and a seven hour time difference.
For the first few days we’re staying in the Galilee region right on the Sea of Galilee. It’s an amazing place. The sea (lake) is about seven miles across and eleven miles long. As you can see in the pictures it is surrounded by mountains. The sea is actually 700 feet below sea level. All the water from the surrounding hills drains to the Sea of Galilee, including the Jordan River, which also exits the Sea of Galilee to travel south to the Dead Sea. This year has been extremely dry so the sea is very low and the Jordan River is also very low.
Today we visited three sites. First, the Mount of Beatitudes. There is of course a Catholic monastery there and a gift shop, but also a great place for teaching and a great place to start the trip. It was amazing to stand on the hills where Jesus would escape the crowds and find solitude with God. Jesus would seek alone time, only to be sought after by his disciples and then the crowds. Here, on the Mount of Beatitudes Jesus gave the sermon on the mount. My uncle pointed out that Mathew 5 – 7, the sermon as recorded in Matthew, would have been easily remember by the disciples. This was like Jesus’ favorite sermon, even he probably recycles sermon material. Each place they would go, depending on the audience, Jesus would probably preach a version of this sermon. Luke 7 is a good example of another version of the sermon, except this time it was probably given just down from this mountain, on the plain. The acoustics on and around this mountain are amazing, overlooking the Sea of Galilee and sloping upwards, the mountain makes many spots that act as a natural amphitheatre. This first stop of spiritually important to me, a place where Jesus retreated to and taught from. A place where thousands of people came to hear him preach.
Second we traveled to Capernaum, the first archaeological site of the trip. Capernaum is also on the Sea of Galilee and it is where Peter lived with his wife and his step-mother. Read Mark 1:21 – 39 to get an idea of what it was like during Jesus’ time in Capernaum. It was pretty amazing to stand in the synagogue and look across the ruined street about 70 feet to Peter’s house (now with a 1960s modernesque Catholic church actually hovering over where the site where Peter lived). In the pictures you can see where the houses once were, I didn’t get a picture of Peter’s house or the church. There are many artifacts at this site, including some beautiful sculptures. It seemed very Romanized. The synagogue was amazing, a 4th century AD structure on top of the ruins of the synagogue where Jesus regularly taught while he lived with Peter in Galilee. This is the place where Jesus made his Galilean headquaters. He would preach and teach here, heal people here, and then escape to the nearby mountains for prayer and time alone.
And our final stop for today was Beth Saida. This is another town on the Sea of Galilee where Jesus often taught. The site is very undeveloped, no gift shops or churches, nuns or monks. We were the only group. It was very, very hot during our mid-afternoon exploration of this archeological site. Interestingly, as the archeologists searched for proof that this site actually was Beth Saida, they found what they believe is an 8th century BCE Palace, that’s from around the time of David and Samuel, very old!
I’ll post more tomorrow and so on as I have time and as I have internet access. Here at the Kabutz, which I’ll talk more about later, we only have internet access in a certain place for $2 a 15 minute session. Be blessed everyone!
This is part of the devotion I led this morning at the Mount of Beatitudes:
Meditation for Day 1 at the Mount of Beatitudes
It is a difficult
lesson to learn today,
to leave one's friends
and family and deliberately
practise the art of solitude
for an hour or a day
or a week.
For me, the break
is most difficult ...
And yet, once it is done,
I find there is a quality
to being alone that is
Life rushes back into the void,
fuller than before!
Anne Morrow Lindbergh
The rhythmic life of Jesus
- Solitude with God
- Alone with closest disciples
- Read Luke 6:12 – 22; solitude, alone with disciples, teaching.
- Following the teaching on the plane, Jesus heals in chapter 7.
- What is the rhythm of your life? Do you find God in the beauty of creation like Jesus did? Does your solitude with God fuel all that you do?