Day Two of Israel
One thing I can say for sure about this trip was my packing was superb. It was not a glamour trip what so ever. I packed three pairs of jeans, both long sleeve and short sleeve shirts for ten days and tennis shoes. If you were to see my packing for any other trip, you might have given me a fist bump or two. Okay, let’s tackle Day two of Israel. It’s a big one!
Before we get started, I want to remind my creative readers. I do not have anything creative to share in this post. Instead, it’s rich in the biblical history of our time in Israel. Please note, I will get back to my creativity… It is one of the gifts God has given me and continues to be a huge passion of mine.
Day two is a biggie…. okay, maybe they all were! Grab a coffee or your favorite drink and perhaps even your bible and walk with me.
Sea of Galilee
We were up bright and early for our first site, the Sea of Galilee. While it’s called the Sea of Galilee, it’s a freshwater lake. It’s also known as the Sea of Tiberias. Something to note, of the 33 significant miracles of Jesus, 25 occurred around the Sea of Galilee.
The Jesus Boat
Our group boarded a Jesus boat and enjoyed a beautiful tour of the Sea of Galilee. Our tour guide gave us an excellent commentary on all the different areas we could see while sailing. We could see for miles the areas of Jesus ministry. We sat quietly as a group while our Pastor read from Matthew 8:23-27 as Jesus calmed the storm and then Matthew 14:22-33 when he walked on water.
As he read, I could feel an overwhelming amount of emotion come over me. It was a moment of disbelief… the reality of being so near where Jesus had been. As we each sat quietly meditating on the scripture, our tour guide played worship music. The music didn’t help my tears. There is something to be said about being on a boat, on the Sea of Galilee, worshiping Jesus. Oh, my word!
And… of course, one of the songs we sang was Oceans! “Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders, let me walk upon the waters where ever you would call me…”
Highlights of the Jesus Boat
The Jesus boat.
It’s only 8:30 in the morning and the sky was beautiful as we set sail.
Reading scripture throughout this trip was amazing. Hearing my Pastor bring the Bible alive at each place we visited is almost indescribable.
Getting to experience this trip with our kids was amazing.
Everywhere we looked we could see where Jesus had ministered. I was grateful for a beautiful day that we could see it all.
Our boat docked right up to the museum where they have the Jesus boat that was recently discovered about ten years ago. Fishermen found the boat, and they dated it back at least 2000 years ago. While this may not have been the boat Jesus was on, it’s one similar that he would have been on. WOW! Watching the video of the excavation was eye-opening.
Can you imagine all of the disciples on this boat and Jesus laying asleep during a storm?
One fascinating piece of information about this boat is the twelve different types of wood used to build it. Also, note the twelve different woods used to build the boat. Notice the cross in the center. Amazing!
Our next stop was Bethsaida. This photo below gives a great overall picture of what took place in Bethsaida.
Probably wondering why I’m taking a picture of a tree. This tree is called the Crown of Thorns. Yes, the crown of thorns that was placed on Jesus’ head was made from this tree.
Sacrificial High Places, these were seen throughout Bethsaida. These were alters built to worship other gods. Notice the horned bull on the rock to the right.
Next we walked a little further to see what is supposed to be Peter’s house. Since there is uncertainty, this is labeled as the Fishermans house. Regardless, it was amazing to see how they were built.
We traveled to our lunch stop where we would be eating St. Peters Fish. Since fishing is the leading industry near the Sea of Galilee, it was imperative that we eat fish. I just didn’t expect this!
There are mainly three kinds of fish in the Sea of Galilee: Sardines, Barbels, and Tilapia.
Let’s just say I enjoyed a lunch of french fries. I do love fish, but this particular one was not my fav. Not only because of the eyeball staring at me either.
I wanted to start with, “this is one of my favorite places….” but the reality is there are so many favorites. It was here in Capernaum that I was able to grasp the proximity of the places we were seeing. In my head when I read the bible I thought sites were much further away from each other. I imagined Jesus walking miles and miles at times during His ministry. Don’t get me wrong, at times he did. However, in Capernaum, that was not the case.
Once again we see a church built on a historical biblical site. Below I was able to see Peter’s mother in laws home where he stayed many times as he was the patriarch of the family and in charge of it. Jesus and the disciples also made this their home during His ministry.
Biblical reference: Matthew 8:14, 15 Jesus cures Peter’s mother-in-law. Matt 9:1 Capernaum became known as Jesus’ town.
Just imagine sitting here with Jesus… as he taught his disciples. Goosebumps!
This is a picture of the 4th Century synagogue where Jesus taught. The one you see here in the image was built on the one where Jesus taught. Mark 1:21
Notice the darker stones? These stones are what was left of the foundation stones of the 1st Century synagogue from Jesus’ time. Seeing this synagogue was one of many AWE moments for me. Just imagining Jesus teaching here. Something else to note was the proximity of Peter’s home and the synagogue. It was a stone’s throw. Not what I would have imagined in my mind.
This was between Peter’s house and the synagogue. Nearly half of Jesus disciples lived here. This would include Peter, Andrew, James, and John as well as Matthew.
Olive Presses in Capernaum
Capernaum produced many export items, and one of them was olive oil products. There are olive trees everywhere. Below is one of the many olive presses we could see.
The Church of St. Peter’s Primacy
Our next stop, the Church of St. Peter’s Primacy. Here along the shoreline of the Sea of Galilee is where the miraculous catch of fish after Jesus resurrection took place. It’s also known as the place Jesus baptized his disciples.
As my pastor read scripture, we also had quiet time to reflect. Just sitting on a nearby rock, reading scripture, humbled by what I was seeing and all that Jesus has done. It’s a moment I will not forget.
Now that we are home, I am reflecting on Phil 2: 5-11. When I think of Christ’s love, humility, and selflessness looking back at my time in Israel… I pray that I can take on these characteristics as I’m transformed into His likeness.
Below is the rock where the feeding of the five thousand. Biblical references can be found in John 21:4-19.
You will notice that a church was built around this rock. This is notably seen around many historical sites.
Sermon on the Mount & Church of the Beatitudes
As we approached the church where Jesus gave the Sermon on the Mount, we noticed the actual church was closed. Our tour guide was able to continue to take us to the mount, which he said might be underwhelming to us. I respectfully disagree, although I can understand his point. It as a mount overlooking the Sea of Gailiee. Garbage had collected around the area. However, when I closed my eyes and imagined Jesus giving the Sermon on the Mount, I was overwhelmed with emotion. You can believe His voice carrying for all to hear below.
Below the mount, you can see banana trees covered. Imagine those NOT there.
Biblical references: Matt 5:3-16, Matt 6:9-33
Our last stop of the day was to Magdala. It’s only been eight years since this area has been excavated. In fact, they were building a hotel on the site when they found the ruins. What is being discovered here is INCREDIBLE!
They believe this area to be where Mary Magdalene lived. Here they also found a 1st Century synagogue they think to be where Jesus taught his disciples.
One of the most exciting finds was the Magdala Stone (Torah reading table like a pulpit) where they would lay out the scrolls to teach.
The one here in the picture is a replica. The original one found is in a museum. Note the ornate sculpting around the stone. You can read more about this stone HERE.
1st Century Synagogue
Below I was able to see the Ritual baths were known as Mikvahs.
There is speculation that this might be the home of Mary Magdalene because of the ornately tiled mosaic. I was able to see many tiled mosaics found in this area, but this particular one was bigger and more ornate. Pretty awesome. You can also see they are still excavating.
There are many biblical references to Mary Magdalene. Here are a few:
Matt 27:45-56, 61. 28:1, John 20:1-18
Quite the Second Day!
As you can see, our second day was a busy but incredible day. Once back at our hotel, and after a little rest we would occasionally debrief our day. We used our dinner times to fellowship over our day as well. There is so much great info to digest at each site. I’m still absorbing everything.
I had had a few questions since my post yesterday. I’ll be answering along the way. One question asked… did I feel safe? It’s interesting to note that my Prince has been to Israel about 11 times during his military career. He wanted me to go with him many many times. I wish now I had never declined to go. I never felt unsafe during this trip! It was simply amazing!