Monday, June 23, 2014

Looking for Jesus

We never ease into our Israel trips.  Fighting through jetlag, we spent our first day on and around the Sea of Galilee.  Beginning the first morning with a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee, we oriented ourselves to the geography around the Sea, read Scripture, and prayed.  We visited the museum at Nof Ginnosar to see the "Jesus Boat" which is the remains of a first century water craft.  Then we spent time at a number of holy sites commemorating events in the life of Jesus: the Mount of Beatitudes, Tabgha (the traditional site of the multiplication of loaves and fishes), the Church of the Primacy of St. Peter (the traditional site of the post-resurrection breakfast on the beach mentioned in John 21), the church in Capernaum (the traditional site of the healing of Peter's mother-in-law), and the synagogue in Capernaum where Jesus heals the demoniac in Mark 1.  Then we ate a unique lunch at Kibbutz Ein Gev where we dined on St. Peter's fish.

After lunch we visited the Valley of the Doves, drank at the natural spring and heard a bit of history on Mt. Arbel.  Next we headed to the baptismal site in the Jordan river just south of the Sea of Galilee.  While the traditional site of Jesus' baptism is well south of here, this place has been used by tourists and pilgrims for baptisms. 

At the end of the second day, we went to the top of Mt. Arbel to get a panoramic view of the Sea of Galilee.  It was a stunning view and I am always amazed when I see it in perspective. 

From this overlook, one sees easily the entire northern shore of the Sea of Galilee.  The buildings on the lake closest to the base of the mountain are ancient Magdala, the town associated with Mary Magdalene.  As one continues on a northern and eastern path around the sea, one finds all the churches we visited the first day, the major city of Capernaum, and the small fishing village of Bethsaida.  In a territory that our bus could cover in fifteen minutes, Jesus spent 90% of his ministry.  Think about that.  In this small, limited area, Jesus taught, healed, and delivered those in need.  In this out of the way, tiny corner of the globe, God in flesh appeared.  And everything changed.  Jesus and his disciples were perceived as primitive and uncultured, being Galileans.  But God can use the small, overlooked, out of the way things to confound the world.  And the world will never be the same.

I leave the first day of our trip wondering how my life can contribute small things that God can multiply for his Kingdom.   

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