Feb 16, 2012

Day 2 in Israel

Another great day in Israel. The highlight of the day for me was leading a service of renewal of our baptismal vows on the banks of the Jordan River.

Today we started the day by going to see the 2,000 year old Genosar Boat discovered in 1986. When the water levels in the Galilee dropped to record levels due to a drought, they found a boat perfectly preserved in the mud. As they started working on the boat, they discovered that the boat was an absolute treasure for it was older than anyone could have imagined.

On the way to see the boat, we stopped by a new archaeological dig at Magda. This is where Mary Magdalene would have been from.
First stop of the morning was at the newly discovered archaeological site of Magda. 
Our first stop of the day was at the 2,000 year old Genosar Boat. This is one of the types of boats that were around during the days of Jesus.
Second stop of the day was the 2,000 year old Genosar boat that was discovered when the lake's water level dropped to record levels due to a drought.

2,000 Year old Genosar Boat

2,000 year old Genosar Boat
After the tour of the museum, we were in for an awesome treat. The weather had been raining off and on, but when it came time for us to go for our ride on the boat on Galilee, the sky's opened up and the sun was shining!

The highlight of the boat ride was when we shut down the engines, and we spent some time in silence listening to the lapping of the waves against the side of the boat while we were on the boat off the shore of grass hills that Jesus would have preached his Sermon on the Mount from. It was so nice to have some silence and time for reflection after the busy schedule.
The boat crew raised the American flag and played the national anthem for us as we started our boat tour on Galilee

Jesus preached the Sermon on the Mount on a grassy hill like the one in this picture

The gap in the mountains is notorious for bringing the winds that stir up the waters. While we were on the boat, the winds suddenly changed and by the time we made it back on shore, it was thundering, raining, and hailing. Quite a storm.

The crew from the Little Church on the Prairie

A view of Tiberias

No Swimmung allowed! Got it!?
The second stop of the day was at the contemporary church at Tabga that celebrates the Miracle of the Multiplication. This is the church that has the famous preserved Mosaic floor of the two fish and bread that dates back to the Byzantine period.
Mosaic of the Multiplication of two fish and bread. 

The church of the Miracle of Multiplication

The sanctuary at the church of the Miracle of  Multiplication

Mosaic dating to the 3rd century

Mosaic dating to the 3rd century
The third stop of the day was Capernaum. One of the cool things about this site is that while no one can say with any certainty that the holy sites are the actual sites on which certain events of Jesus took place, we can say with absolute certainty that Jesus and the disciples walked the pathways of Capernaum. Jesus spent 18-20 months of his ministry based out of this village.

Capernaum was located on the major trade route that connected Egypt to Asia and Europe. All goods had to travel through here. That's why, even though Capernaum is a small village, the Romans had stationed a roman centurion and a detachment of troops there (Matt. 8:5-9), a high officer of the king was present there (John 4:46), and a customs station was located there to collect taxes (Matt. 9:9).

The apostles Peter, Andrew, James and John were from Capernaum (Mark 1:16-21), and Matthew/Levi was working there as a tax collector when Jesus called him to be a disciple (Mark 2:14).

It is interesting to note that more miracles of healing took place at Capernaum than any other place yet Capernaum did not believe and was one of the places Jesus cursed for their unbelief.
The fourth stop was Capernaum. The home base for Jesus during his ministry in Galilee. Jesus spent about 18-20 months here.

The site many believe to be the house of Simon Peter's mother-in-law

The site many believe to be the house of Simon Peter's mother-in-law

The ruins of the synagogue in Capernaum

Inside of the synagogue

The inscription on this column found in Capernaum reads that it was made by the son of John, the son of Zebedee

Statue of Simon Peter at Capernaum

On the way to the church at the Mount of Beatitudes, we saw the type of tree which would have been used to make the crown of thorns for Jesus
The fourth stop of the day was at the Mount of Beatitudes that celebrates Jesus preaching the Sermon on the Mount.
Church at the Mount of Beatitudes
The fifth stop of the day was at a Kibbutz in the northern most point of Israel overlooking into both Lebanon and the Golan Heights. There we enjoyed a St. Peter's fish lunch and we went down to the Jordan River to renew of baptismal vows.

The final stop of the day was at Caesarea Phillipi. This is the place where Jesus promises, "Upon this rock I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it," after Peter makes his confession that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God.

Caesarea Phillipi is the most northern point that Jesus reached during his public ministry. What is fascinating about this spot is that this was Gentile and pagan territory. No pious Jew would have associated one of the most important promises of the church and the confession of the church with such an unholy site.

But it was at the very site in which the pagans worshipped the pagan god Pan, that Jesus utters this promise.
Our sixth stop was Ceasarea Philippi where Jesus asked Peter, "Who do you say that I am?"

It was in this setting that Jesus declared, "Upon this rock I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it."

Caesarea Philippi

A temple for the pagan god Pan once stood at Caesarea Philippi

Part of the ruins of the temple for Pan

Temple ruins dedicated to Pan
We returned back to the hotel after a long and good day. We had been dodging the rain all day long and when we arrived in our hotel, God treated us to this view outside our hotel windows. God is good!

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