DAY 4 – THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 21: ARBEL, SEA OF GALILEE BOAT RIDE, MAGDALA, CAPERNAUM, MT. OF BEATITUDES
Today was a wonderful day of focusing on the life and ministry of Jesus in the context of the land and culture. The sun greeted us this morning, with perfect temps in the high 60s. We spent the entire day in the area of the Sea of Galilee.
At 7:30 after another full buffet breakfast, we departed for the cliffs of Mt. Arbel. This is a high 800+ foot mountain that overlooks the NW corner of the lake below. Reading Mathew 4 on the way to the trailhead, 19 in the group hiked to the top while the rest bussed around and walked up to the top from the other side. Although hazy, the view was amazing.
Yardenit/Jordan River Baptism
Driving to the southern end of the Sea of Galilee, we arrived at Yardenit. Here in the Jordan River, 10 in the group reaffirmed their faith in Christ by being baptized. The water was cool, but our hearts were warmed by the experience.
Driving back north along the coastline and through TIberias, we arrived at Magdala. Here we saw a 1st century synagogue, one of only 7 uncovered in Israel. Even though it is not specifically mentioned that Jesus taught here, it is quite probable that Jesus taught about the kingdom here in this modest structure. We also saw a few miqve (ritual baths) among the ruins. Jesus probably returned to this city after the Feeding of the 4,000 (Matthew 15, called Magadan, which means tower). Mary Magdalene was from here.
“Spending time around the Sea of Galilee today and retracing the footsteps of Jesus was inspirational. From the view from from Arbel, to seeing the first century synagogue at Magdala, to hearing the stories about Jesus’ ministry at Capernaum, to ending the day with a boat ride on the lake was special beyond words.” – Tour Member –
Close by we enjoyed an amazing St. Peter’s Fish lunch. Some also had chicken or kabab. We were also treated to a chocolate cake in celebration of Pastor John’s birthday. It was a very nice surprise!
Mt. of Beatitudes
Driving north through the Plain of Genesseret, we enjoyed a reflective time on the Mt. of Beatitudes. Sitting on rocks overlooking a natural – topographical amphitheater (a traditional location for where the Sermon on the Mount may have taken place), we listened to the first portion of Matthew 5 in both Hebrew and English. These were the kingdom principles Jesus shared with the multitudes! We were invited to seek first the kingdom of God (Mt. 6:33) and to be the salt and light of the world!
Back down on the shoreline, our next stop was Capernaum (the village of Nahum). This city in the days of the Gospels served as Jesus’ home-base for ministry. Sitting in the 5th century synagogue, we read from Mark 1,2 and 9; Luke 7; and John 6. These were teachings, healings, and life-lessons shared by Jesus right here! It is also most likely along the shoreline here where Jesus called His first disciples (Matthew 4). He also called Matthew (Levi here, Mt. 9).
Ancient Boat/Boat Ride
We ended the day by returning to Nof Ginnosar where we saw the 1st century ancient boat discovered here in 1986. This wooden boat was literally found in the mud of the lake and then careful extracted and restored. It was incredible to see this, helping us to picture the type of boat used in Jesus’ day. We also enjoyed a 50 minute boat ride out on the lake. We enjoyed a time of worship and reflection, reading the two storm narratives (Mark 4 and Matthew 14). We also saw a nice sunset.
Following dinner, our activity was rock painting. Taking the rocks/stones we collected in the afternoon, we enjoyed painting our rocks reflecting themes and life-lessons that touched our heart.