DAY 5 – THURSDAY, MARCH 21: ARBEL, MAGDALA, YARDENIT, CHORAZIN, CAPERNAUM, SEA OF GALILEE BOAT RIDE, MT. OF BEATITUDES
Today was spent entirely in the Sea of Galilee area. The temps were actually a bit warmer, with highs around 80, with full sun once again! It was another incredible day with a remarkable group of believers! It was a day of walking in the footsteps of Jesus!
Taking off at 7:20 this morning (reading Matthew 13 as we went) our first stop was to the trailhead of Mt. Arbel. About 25 in the group hiked up this 800+ foot cliff while others bussed to the other side and walked up to the top from there. The view of the NW corner of the Sea of Galilee from there was breath-taking. With the good visibility, we could even see the snow-capped Mt. Hermon 35 miles to the north. Perhaps this cliff was the iMt. Of Transfiguration (Mt. 17)? Or perhaps Jesus met His disciples here (Mt. 28:16)?
Driving to the southern end of the lake, we enjoyed a visit to Yardenit. Here in the waters of the Jordan River, over 25 renewed their commitment to be followers of Jesus. It was a special time. While the water was a bit chilly, our hearts were warmed.
Driving back north along the western coastline of the lake (and through Tiberias), Magdala was our next stop. On the way we saw a family celebrating Purim. They were dressed in fun costumes! we saw a modest 1st century synagogue. Although this Jewish city is only mentioned once in the Gospels (Mt. 15), no doubt Jesus taught from this synagogue! This was where a certain Mary Magdalene was from!
“Today we literally walked in the footsteps of Jesus. We had so many incredible moments today, starting with the hike up Arbel. All of today’s sites connected me with the real world of Jesus in the 1st century!” -Tour Participant-
Following a wonderful fish lunch (some had chicken and lamb kabab), we drove to Capernaum. Sitting in the 5th century synagogue (the 1st century one is no doubt below this one), we recalled all the stories involving Jesus that happened here (Mark, 1,2, 3, 9; Luke 7, 8; John 6). This city served as Jesus’ home-base for His Galilean ministry! It was also along this shoreline where Jesus called His first disciples (Mt. 4).
Up off the coastline a few miles is Chorazin. Like Bethsaida and Capernaum, this city was condemned by Jesus (Mt. 11). We walked to the 3rd century synagogue here and read from Matthew 23. This passage refers to the Moses’ seat. We also saw the newly-discovered wine press just reported about in the news a few days ago!
Mt. of Beatitudes
Next (and close by) was the Mt. of Beatitudes. Although this is only a traditional site, this very well could have been the location of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. We listened to Matthew 5 in Hebrew and in English. The kingdom message was Jesus’ central message of His ministry. He taught everywhere about the reign and rule of God in the lives of those who were followers.
Ancient Boat/Boat Ride
Our last stop of the day was to see the ancient boat. It dates to the 1st century. It was found in 1986 in the muddy coastline at Nof Ginnosar. From here we walked to our boat for a 45 minute time of worship and reflection. We listened to Mark 4 and Matthew 14, the two storm narratives. Jesus calmed the waters in both stories.
Walking back to our hotel, we enjoyed dinner and an optional activity of painting rocks that many picked up from the shoreline of Capernaum.