DAY 4--WEDNESDAY, MARCH 29
Fun Fact: Tour guide Jacov likes to refer to McDonald's restaurants as the "MC Shrine."
We woke up today to beautiful weather for a boat ride across the Sea of Galilee. We boarded the "King David" and launched out into the Sea, enjoying a time of reading scripture and spending time alone in prayer and silence. We even enjoyed seeing a demonstration of how first century fishermen would cast nets. We also learned that the "St. Peter" fish is actually tilapia, the most common fish in the Sea, and is only found here and in Lake Victoria in Africa, at the terminus of the Jordan River. Sadly we discovered that most tilapia are now grown in fish farms rather than being caught in the Sea of Galilee.
After crossing to the other side we visited the museum featuring the replica of a fishing boat found in the Sea of Galilee in 1986. This was one of those sites I had hoped we would see and wasn't disappointed. This first century boat is quite a bit smaller than the vessel we traveled in earlier. To learn more, go to https://www.thegalileeboat.com/.
From the seashore we traveled up the basin to the area believed to be the location of Jesus' sermon on the mount, now commemorated by a Roman Catholic church called "Church of the Beattitudes.' While a beautiful facility, I found it especially satisfying to simply sit with our group, read the scripture, and take some time to enjoy the simplicity of the view over the towns and Sea below. What is clear is that what Jesus spoke is a new way of living, a life that is possible only through a personal relationship with Him. But what hope and encouragement we can have from Him. To learn more, go to http://www.beatitudes-sb.org/.
We also were able to visit the site of Chorazin, located about 3 miles from Capernaum, one of the placed Jesus cursed for their lack of faith (Matthew 11:20-24). To learn more, go to http://www.bible-history.com/geography/ancient-israel/chorazin.html.
Traveling down the hill again we visited a church in Tabgha which stands at the location believed to be the site of the miracle of feeding 5,000 men plus family members. The church of Loaves and Fishes conains some beautiful floor mosaics and the foundation stones for an early church in that area. To learn more, go to http://www.sacred-destinations.com/israel/church-of-loaves-and-fishes.
We enjoyed lunch at a gas station. Yes, in countries like Israel there are restaurants associated with gas stations which provide delicious meals like the one we shared. In addition to the hummice and vegetables and pita bread, we were seved chicken, filet of bass, or fish baked in whole. Didn't see a lot of people making the last option, though.
After lunch we made our way up the road to Capernaum, the base of ministry for Jesus after leaving Nazareth (Matthew 4). Here we explored a well-preserved synagogue, many interesting pieces of inscribed stone, and perhaps the very house where Simon Peter lived with his family. The evidence is compelling but incomplete. To learn more, go to http://www.capernaum.custodia.org/default.asp?id=5389.
I was able to share from God's Word about the many ways Capernaum played a significant role in Jesus' ministry. In particular I focused on three lessons: (1) Matthew 10:2-4 and 9:9-13 reveal the fact that Matthew (a tax collector for Rome) and Simon the Zealot (a hater and activist against Rome) were both selected by Jesus to be part of the Twelve. What a great reminder that Jesus intends for us to focus not on our differences but on Him and the Gospel which unites us. (2) Mark 1 tells the story of Jesus leaving ministry "success' behind to pursue a greater purpose after spending time alone with His Father in solitude and prayer. This reminds us that it is not our job to be successful in ministry or to fix everything, but instead to spend time alone with our Father to know what He is calling us to do next. (3) Mark 9 centers around a question Jesus asked the Twelve: "What were you arguing about?" Of course, the question was awkward because in truth the men had been arguing about which of them was the greatest. This led to His lesson that greatness is not what we think. I am reminded that greatness is not what God looks for from us, but to recognize that only God is truly great and when we humble ourselves and allow Him to be seen in us, then we truly reflect His greatness through humility.
Our final stop was the town of Bethsaida where we were able to walk through the remains of this cursed town. To learn more, go to http://bibleatlas.org/bethsaida.htm.
Today has been a bit slower pace which is a welcome change. For fun tonight several of us went out looking for dinner and found a lovely spot at "Mamma Mia" where we enjoyed pizza and sorbet. Because it was kosher food, the pizza had no meat on it.
WHAT DID OUR FATHER TEACH ME TODAY?
God is not impressed. We can’t “wow” Him. We bring nothing to the table except for one thing: a humble heart. When I am wrapped up in my need for greatness, when I am so insecure that I have to compare myself with others and feel significant, then I am of no use to the One who is truly great. When my focus is on me I have no vision for what God wants. But when I choose to let Jesus reveal His servant heart through me, that’s when God delights to show His power and His glory.
The secret to living the life of following Christ is revealed in Colossians 1:27-29. Christ in you. His energy at work through you.