Jesus Knows Our Hearts
As we headed to our first destination our bus heard from Pastor Mark Holeman. He talked about how Jesus knows our hearts and what causes idolatry for each of us. The thing that we have wrapped our lives around might be the thing keeping us from God. It was a good reminder as we spend the day in the places where Jesus ministered the most in this area. He has always cared for our hearts and where we are focused.
What a beautiful morning it turned out to be as we arrived in Capernaum! The sun was shining, birds were singing, and the water on the Sea of Galilee was still.
We were reminded that this is where a lot of Jesus’s ministry took place. Crowds would follow Him and many would reach out and touch Him because of their belief for who He was. One example is the woman with the issue of blood touching the hem of Jesus’s garment (Luke 8). While some believed who Jesus was, others rejected Him. Jesus says in Matthew 11 that the city would be destroyed as a result of unbelief. This passage has been used by leaders throughout church history as ALL of Israel was cursed and rejected by God. This resulted in the birth of replacement theology, which is the idea that the church has replaced Israel and inherits all of Israel’s blessings and none of their curses. There is no biblical evidence for replacement theology but instead a plan for the church and for Israel and the Jewish people!
In Capernaum, 2000 years ago, the Jewish people were under Roman rule. The rich ruled. Even the Jewish High Priest had to buy his position. The important jobs often stayed within families and the every-day Jewish person resented this. The people were highly taxed and they needed something or someone to turn to for help. Even being in the same city, most people would not have heard about Jesus. For those who did, they knew that He gave credit to God for the miracles that were performed. The people wanted to know if Jesus was the king and rescuer. He was not the kind of king they were looking for. https://www.bibleplaces.com/capernaum/
Our next stop was only a few minutes away at the Mount of Beatitudes. This is the possible location where Jesus preached the Sermon on the Mount. (Mt. 5-7) We read the beatitudes and given time to walk around on the grounds of the Church of the Beatitudes. There were places throughout the grounds to sit and reflect. https://www.bibleplaces.com/mtbeatitudes/
On the way to our next stop, Nazareth we learned originally people settled in the mountains to avoid malaria. More mosquitoes are found in lower land where water settled. We also learned that Arab houses tend to be close together and they look unfinished to allow for sons to build another level when they get married.
While in Nazareth we visited a replica town and museum. We learned the history of Nazareth and saw what Nazareth would have been like during the life of Jesus.
As we viewed an olive press and learned how it worked, we learned that olives were pressed 3 times before the oil came out dark. Our guide compared that to Jesus when he was praying in the garden. The burden of going to the cross was pressing on Him and he prayed 3 times. After the third time he began to sweat blood.
Today, both in Capernaum and Nazareth, we gained more of an understanding of the times surrounding the life and ministry of Jesus. It helps to understand the politics and lifestyles of the Jewish people in those times and understand why people reacted to Jesus the way that they did.
We enjoyed a wonderful lunch at the village. It was food in the tradition of the town. We were served by people in the dress of the days of Jesus.
Our last stop was to plant trees. The Jewish National Fund has been working on the reforestation of Israel. As part of that effort, people can plant trees in honor of or in memory of a loved one. We had the privilege to remember those who are close to our hearts in this special way. A planter’s prayer was read before we started planting. This was an emotional experience for many of the tour participants. It was a wonderful way to leave something here from our hearts as well as help the Jewish people restore their land.
Blog author: Debbie Helbig
Administrative Assistant for Ministry Advancement
The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry
Photos: Brett Helbig