Walking Where Jesus Walked
This morning we took a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee. This may have been my favorite experience, at least until tomorrow. It was a beautiful spring morning and we rode on the boat listening to songs like How Great Thou Art. It was a bit overwhelming. The words perfectly stated what it felt like to be on the Sea of Galilee. The Galilean region is where Jesus did much of His ministry.
Jim Showers read from the book of Matthew where Jesus and the disciples were in a boat and the storm rose up quickly and the disciples were afraid. We were reminded that Jesus is the One who has the power over all of nature and when the storms rise up in our lives, He is the One we are to trust.
Our captain, Yehuda was a fisherman for over 40 years and demonstrated how the men fished in the first century. He made a perfect cast the first time, but we weren’t having fresh fish on the boat or for lunch and honestly I’m relieved. We also enjoyed learning some Jewish dances on the boat. Jewish dancing is jubilant and many in our group caught-on very quickly to the Hora. Bill Sutter, our former director of The Friends of Israel and the other bus leader wisely let his wife Annette do the dancing for his family, he knows his strengths!
After our boat ride we headed over to the Jesus Boat Museum. It’s main display is a small boat that was discovered by local fishermen during a drought in the area. The museum had a short film explaining the work required to preserve the boat upon its discovery. The boat sunk in the mud 2000 years ago and the mud acted as a cacoon preserving the boat. It took the archeological team weeks to safely remove the boat and then another 17 years of soaking the boat in resin before it was safe to display it as we saw today. The museum had a great gift shop and many on the tour contributed to the local economy through shopping.
We loaded the bus and headed up to Caesarea Philippi. In Matthew 16, we read of Jesus taking His disciples to the Roman city of Caesarea Philippi. Jesus needed a quiet place away from the crowds to spend some time to prepare His disciples for His impending death on the cross. These disciples were going to be tasked with starting the church. Jesus began by asking them, “Who did people say that I am.” He then asked specifically, “ Who do YOU say that I am?” It is the most important question anyone will ever be asked. Peter answered that He was the Christ and Jesus responded that He would build His church & the gates of hades would not prevail. As the disciples were told this, they were surrounded by a pagan temple of Pan, the god of shepherds, flocks, and forests. The false worship seemed overpowering in this place, but Jesus assured His disciples that the church will prevail against the forces of Satan.
Being at the actual sites, hearing the history and the geography makes Jesus’ teaching even more amazing. I would love to be able to share everything we are hearing, but it’s just not possible—you just have to come here yourself and experience the land of the Bible!
As we rode through the Golan Heights, we gained a personal understanding of the importance of this area. The area has been under Israeli control since the 6 Day War of 1967. The area serves as a 20 mile buffer zone from Syria. The land is rocky and full of landmines. It is mostly pasture lands and where Israel now gets its fresh meat. There’s a little agriculture too, such as grapes and apples, but it takes time to clear the areas of the land mines. We stopped at a Syrian outlook where the UN army base is located. Along the Israeli-Syrian border is a secret Israeli hospital that offers medical care to those fleeing war torn Syria. It’s a heartbreaking reminder of the destruction war takes on many innocent lives. How desperately this world needs the peace that will only come when Jesus returns to reign from the throne of David in Jerusalem.
On the way to the next stop, we stopped at a Druze village and enjoyed a falafel lunch. I will mention as we drive to different destinations, we see history on all sides of the road. That’s the amazing part of Israel, there is so much history from our Bibles and Jewish historians. You can’t drive too far without our guide pointing out a famous site from the Bible. For instance, on our way to Caesarea Philippi we passed Nimrod's fortress that was built in the 10th century. The valley below the fortress is the famous road to Damascus where Saul was blinded by Jesus.
We stopped at the Jordan River and Rich Schmidt, a Friends of Israel representative and former pastor, baptized eight people from our tour. We ended the evening with a delicious and seemingly never-ending course meal at Lido Decks Restaurant in Tiberias. It’s on the Sea of Galilee and absolutely beautiful.
Links to where we visited today:
Sea of Galilee: https://www.bibleplaces.com/seagalilee/
Caesarea Philippi: https://www.bibleplaces.com/banias/
Golan Heights: https://www.bibleplaces.com/golanheights/