And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers.
This is just one of the verses in the Bible mentioning the Sea of Galilee and that is where our journey centred around today. Our hotel was right on the shore and we got up bright and early to climb to the top of Mount Arbel. Well, that sounds a little more dramatic than it was – a bus drove us most of the way and its not a very high mountain:) But very beautiful nonetheless.
Our view from the top of Arbel looking down at the Sea of Galilee
It was really cool to look around and get an idea of where everything was as the guide pointed out all the cities and places where Jesus’ earthly ministry was. A real live map!
They don’t worry about fences in this national park! Just sit right on the edge of a cliff:)
Next it was off for a boat ride on the Sea. What a beautiful experience to be on a boat on the exact same Sea that Jesus and the disciples spent so much time on. We had a lovely service after which our boat driver, who was a Christian!, sang songs for us in Hebrew and English. We all ended up singing How Great Thou Art together. In a boat. On the Sea of Galilee. Stuff like this just doesn’t seem like real life!
Where we took the boat ride was at a place called a Kibbutz. This is a community that is totally self-contained and where everything is shared. They are well respected and to be part of one is a privilege. This Kibbutz had a museum where they kept a boat found on the shores of Galilee that is over 2000 years old. It was very cool. Everywhere here you’re struck by the thought that everything you’re seeing is ancient. As a Canadian, I’m not used to seeing that kind of history. It seems a crazy thought to be touching a wall or a stone carving from 2000 years ago. Its pretty awesome.
On to a church built on the traditional site of the preaching of the Beatitudes. It was a beautiful church but I wanted to show you the ceiling! Best part for me:)
Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works had been done in Tyre and Sidon, which have been done in you, they had a great while ago repented, sitting in sackcloth and ashes.
We got to see both of these cities mentioned here in the Bible today! Our guide showed us how the cities were destroyed by an earthquake as a fulfillment of the prophecy of Jesus. Awesome. This picture is in Chorazin or Korizin. This was part of the Synagogue that was used for social and religious purposes but not for sacrifices since those had to be done in Jerusalem. We saw a Moses seat and Beema seat. At this site we also saw a Mikveh, a ritual Jewish bath. There were usually seven steps down, you were immersed fully under water, and then you came back up seven different steps to signify that you were now clean. Awesome picture of Salvation and reminded me of baptism!
Next off to Bethsaida. Our guide said it was one of his favourite sites because it was least impressive which meant it was the most original:) I took this description from the go Israel tourism site. “Jesus clearly knew Bethsaida well (Matt. 11:21). home to Peter, Andrew and Philip (John 1:44) and, according to tradition, Zebedee and his sons. It was also scene of the feeding of the 5,000 according to Luke (9:10-17) and of Jesus’ healing of a blind man (Mark 8:22-26). In later centuries, when travel became difficult, this location was actually forgotten! Now, thanks to archaeology, Bethsaida has reopened its gates to visitors. Following the rediscovery of Capernaum, and more recently Korazim, Bethsaida is the last of the three towns of the “Evangelical Triangle” of Jesus’ Galilee ministry to rejoin Christian itineraries. Among the many treasures yielded by this 21-acre mound is a fisherman’s house, identified by stone net-weights, an anchor, a fishhook and even a needle for repairing nets, which recall Bethsaida’s fishermen disciples. And most thrilling of all: visitors can even walk a cobbled street from the time of Jesus.”
We made a quick stop at a place called Tabgha. There is a famous mosaic in a church there that is 1700 years old. It depicts the miracle of the feeding of the five thousand. It was gorgeous. And I forgot my camera on the bus. So, no picture here but I will try to upload one from someone else sometime:)
Lastly, we have Capernium. I know! Its been a long day eh??? It was a beautiful spot right on the Sea. This synagogue is from the Byzantine period but is built right on top of a synagogue that has been partly excavated and is proven to be from the time of Christ. That means that Jesus probably preached right on that spot! Well, right under that spot:)
I was struck by the beautiful carvings in the stone. Not only that they were able to do such beautiful work without modern tools, but also that it lasted all this time for us to enjoy 2000 years later. Amazing.
I’ll end with one of my favourite pictures of the day of the Sea. It just shows the calm and peacefulness I felt when I looked across the water. What an amazing experience. I’m so blessed.