Embracing the Process of Following Christ
It’s election day today here in Israel. This means that everyone has a paid day off to go vote! This important day for Israel didn’t have any significant impact on our trip except that the traffic was lighter during rush hour.
Sea of Galilee
We started our day on a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee. The boat captain and his crew were so welcoming. They began our ride with the raising of the American flag while our national anthem played. Then they raised the Canadian flag and played its anthem for our one Canadian traveler! Once this patriotic welcome ended, we turned our attention to the sea that holds so much meaning for the Christian.
Riding on the Sea of Galilee is a bit surreal. In a way it’s like meeting a celebrity you’ve admired your whole life, leaving you somewhat speechless and pinching yourself to see if it’s real. I’ve read about Jesus on the Sea of Galilee since I was quite young. It’s where Jesus told the harsh winds to hush, called Peter out to Himself to walk on water, and, of course, where Christ Himself walked on water.
But today, it’s just water, right? Certainly the tides have turned over and over since Jesus’ time—so why would it even matter to take this moment in? A boat ride on the Sea of Galilee is just a boat ride unless you start to connect the dots.
Jesus’ entire ministry depended on the use of this body of water. Back and forth He would go to carry out His missions. Surrounding the sea are the cities where He would have healed the sick, raised the dead to life, fed the 5,000, and declared His death and soon-coming resurrection.
It matters because, unlike meeting a celebrity, this crucial part of Jesus’ story still remains. It’s a place in Israel that continues to prove the validity of the Bible. It speaks not just to our faith but to our sight.
On the morning boat ride, Jim Showers spoke a meaningful devotional to us. A man on the crew cast a net like the disciples would have, Dan Price led us in songs, the crew taught us a dance, and we sang “It Is Well With My Soul” on the waters that played a vital role in the Son of Man carrying out His journey.
The Sea of Galilee in and of itself is no holy ground, but its role in the life of Christ is one that made me close my eyes, breathe in the seawater, and for a moment, just being there, with the sun shining brightly on my face, allowed me to feel that much closer to the Lord of my life.
We then went inside the Galilee Boat Museum to see a 2,000-year-old boat that was discovered in 1986 by archaeologists who painstakingly preserved the boat that now sits on display. While there is no evidence to prove it was a boat Jesus would have been on, it certainly dates back to His time. Everyone also enjoyed their gift shop, and I sipped on the tastiest soy milk latte I’ve had so far this trip!
We then traveled west to visit Nazareth to experience the reenactment of a village at the time of Jesus and enjoyed a biblical lunch—delicious hummus, za’atar, yogurt dip, freshly picked olives, warm pita bread baked in their wood-fired oven, and apples dipped in date paste. Yum!
We then walked through the Nazareth village to get an idea of what it was like to live in Jesus’ day. It was a fascinating display of how yarn was made, the ancient tools they used to cut wood or sharpen knives, and even how they made clay pots. All interesting, intense processes that required an extraordinary amount of patience and time to see the end result.
Our extreme advances made today are convenient for certain, but they make me wonder how much has been lost since we no longer have to endure the grueling process of creating. Instead, now we get what we want when we want it since purchasing has become so easy. We no longer have to be patient, and we get agitated when our overnight deliveries are late by a few hours.
We also saw how olive oil is made. From being picked, sorted, pressed, crushed, and stored, again, the process it takes to get it to the point of enjoyment is long. But, as we’ve all tasted, it’s worth it.
There’s so much to learn in the process of creating. So often, endurance is necessary to experience the full joy of the result on the other side. Today, we are primed (by Amazon prime, of course) to want something and to get something immediately. The wait time has been reduced, and we never truly feel the weight of the purchase which has been traded for the mindless push of a button.
Being in Nazareth today made me think about Christ’s road to the cross. And while I’m jumping ahead a bit—as our time in Jerusalem is a few days away—it’s still worth noting that there would have been no reward in His all-of-a-sudden resurrection. It was in His suffering and the pain He endured on the cross, to the point of death, that made His death for our sins and resurrection all the more powerful.
We live in a time when escaping the process is tremendously easy. But how much do we lose when we don’t endure with patience?
Our Israeli tour guide keeps reminding us when looking at ancient ruins that before something is determined to be authentic, it has to pass through archaeological, historical, and religious accuracy. Capernaum, known to be the home base for Jesus’ ministry, is full of ancient ruins that bring the biblical accounts to life.
At Capernaum, we sat under enormous shade trees with light sprinkles of rain occasionally falling through branches while Jim Showers gave a devotional that highlighted the incredible work that Jesus did in Capernaum. Christ performed miracles, healed Peter’s mother-in-law and two blind men, gave His bread of life discourse, and so much more. In fact, so much more that the book of John ends with “But there are also many other things which Jesus did, which, if they were written in detail, I expect that even the world itself would not contain the books that would be written.”
We walked around this special place and took in the black basalt stone remains of what was most likely Peter’s house, a 4th century AD synagogue that may be sitting atop the original synagogue where Jesus ministered, and unearthed church remains near Peter’s home.
For many of us, walking in the places that Jesus walked, riding on the sea where Jesus traveled, and experiencing a village like the kind where Jesus would have grown up brought tears to our eyes and joy to our hearts. As the trip continues, I sense a strong conviction growing in each one of us to continue to pursue the truth and, in our everyday life, to follow Jesus.
We concluded the day with a delicious meal at our hotel and an engaging evening with our special guest speaker, Elliot Chodoff, who enlightened us about the process of Israel's elections and current events that impact Israel and the world today.
Until tomorrow! Good night from our final stay on the Sea of Galilee.
Blog author: Karen Katulka
Director of Marketing & Communication
The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry
Photos: Dan Price
Assistant Director of International Ministries
The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry