Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, Sweetest Name I Know
After breakfast, we boarded the bus and traveled to the Sea of Galilee for a much-anticipated boat ride. Once aboard, we sang a mix of traditional Jewish songs and hymns of the Christian faith.
In the middle of the sea and with the engines turned off, we reflected on how much of Jesus' ministry happened in this region. Dr. Jim Showers took us to Matthew 8:23-27 where Jesus calmed the storm. Jim recounted a tempest in his own life from over a decade ago and related it to the times we all face when life takes a turn we didn't anticipate. In this passage, Jesus asks the disciples, frightened by the severity of the storm, why they were fearful. Of course, we all know the history and that Jesus calmed the storm but what was the result? His miracle caused them to turn their eyes to Him and to realize their fear was because of what they cannot control. It caused me to consider: where is my faith? Is my confidence in the One that created me and can calm the sea or is it in what I believe I can control? Where am I placing my trust? Blessed is the one who trusts in Him.
We enjoyed perfect weather out on the water, great fellowship, and taking pictures together. We also watched an ancient fishing demonstration and more singing before heading back to shore.
In the distance we enjoyed memorable views of Tiberias and the cliffs of Arbel as we approached the dock. You can learn more about the significance of the Arbel here: https://www.parks.org.il/en/reserve-park/arbel-national-park-and-nature-reserve/#1
We drove past Cana, where Jesus turned water into wine (the first miracle of Jesus) before visiting our next stop.
The Nazareth Village is the kind of place that turns the Gospels from black and white into full color. Two significant events that happened in this village were Gabriel’s announcement to Mary, and where Jesus read from Isaiah and proclaimed in the Synagogue that Scripture was being fulfilled before their very eyes.
Nazareth, in the time of Jesus was much smaller than I would have expected. Today, 80,000 people live here but when the family of Jesus would have been residents, only 50 families called this village home. Our guide walked us through a fantastic recreation of a 1st-century village. We saw how they worked their land, used tools, built their buildings, and handmade their clothing. The highlight for me was in the synagogue where we considered the words of Jesus and He opened the scroll, quoted Isaiah and stunned those in His presence by His words (Luke 4:17-2).
At the end of the tour, my soul was completely satisfied as I meditated on God’s goodness in sending the Messiah to save me. What a joy to see the land that He came to, and experience life in the flesh right here where I stood. After our tour, we enjoyed a delicious authentic first-century meal with freshly baked bread, lentil soup, and other traditional foods.
We had the joy of planting trees in honor or in memory of loved ones. Israel plants 3 million trees a year. What an opportunity to bless Israel and to leave something alive that will continue to grow and become strong when we leave for our home countries. Some of the trees we planted were of the pine, terebinth, and cyprus varieties.
We passed through Magdala, the largest town in this area during the time of Jesus, on our way to Capernaum.
At Capernaum, our last stop of the day, we were privileged to hear Dr. Jim Showers teach again, this time on the significant events that happened here. This is where Peter’s mother-in-law was healed, as well as the centurion’s servant. Multitudes flocked here to see Jesus. This is where the crowds were so great that the hole in the roof was made so a man could be let down. Two blind men, the nobleman’s son, a demoniac were all healed here. This is also where we read the Bread of Life discourse in John chapter 6. As a follower of Christ, it is emotional to look upon the excavations that reveal the homes that would have existed when Jesus lived here.
As the sun started to set, we took a short trip back to our hotel and our last night on the Sea of Galilee. Later in the evening, we enjoyed another delicious dinner and warm fellowship. Just before retiring for the evening we were treated to an insightful talk from top Israeli analyst, Elliot Chodoff on current events in Israel.
Blog author: Steve Conover
Executive Vice President
The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry
Photos: Becca Stover