DAY 8 – SATURDAY, MAY 11: ARBEL, JORDAN RIVER BAPTISM, MAGDALA, CHORAZIM, CAPERNAUM, MT. OF BEATITUDES, ANCIENT BOAT, BOAT RIDE
Our focus all day long was Jesus. We spent the day around (and on) the Sea of Galilee. The sun was bright again, with high temps in the 80s. It is supposed to warm up though over the next few days!
Leaving the hotel at 7:30 and reading from Matthew 4 (the calling of the disciples), we drove to the trailhead of Mt. Arbel. This is a 800 foot high mountain on the NW corner of the lake (the Kinneret or the Sea of Galilee). 14 in the group hiked the trail to the top while others drove through Tiberias and approached the top from the other side. Both groups converged on top. We enjoyed one of the best views of the lake below. While we can’t be certain, could it be that this was the mountain where Jesus met His disciples following His resurrection (Mt. 28:16)? No doubt Jesus climbed this mountain at other times as well.
Jordan River / Yardenit
Driving to the southern end of the lake is where the lower Jordan River begins. Here at Yardenit where the water exits the lake, 19 renewed their commitment to be followers of Jesus through this optional baptism experience. It was a special time for all!
Returning to the NW side of the lake, we visited Magdala. Mary Magdalene was here. This was a “one-level” Jewish city that was destroyed during the First Revolt against the Romans, with the ruins being found under only about a foot of dirt. The highlight was seeing the 1st century synagogue here (one of about seven in the country). Jesus most likely taught here! He sailed into this city after the Feeding of the 4,000 (Mt. 15).
After a fish lunch in Magdala, we drove up the shoreline to Capernaum. Jesus used this prominent city as home-base during His Galilean ministry. Sitting in the 5th century synagogue (the foundations of the 1st century one being below), we read from Mark 1,2, and 9; Luke 7,8; and John 6. Many events, teachings, miracles took place here. Jesus also called at least five of His disciples here (Peter, Andrew, James, John, and Matthew). Before leaving the site, we spent some reflection time down on the water’s edge.
“The life of Jesus came alive today! We spent the whole entire day around the Sea of Galilee. We even had a boat ride on the lake. Seeing the hills, valleys and biblical cities in this area really changed the way I understood the Gospels about Jesus!” – Tour Member –
Located up off the NW shoreline of the lake is Chorazin. This was one of three cities condemned by Jesus (Mt. 11). The ruins primarily date to the 3rd century AD here. In this city’s synagogue we read from Matthew 23. We also saw a replica of the Moses’ Seat found here over 50 years ago. We also saw a newly-excavated wine press.
Mt. of Beatitudes
Nearby is the Mt. of Beatitudes. This is a traditional location where Jesus may have taught the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus also shared about the kingdom “in the plain” (Luke 6). The kingdom was Jesus’ “go-to” message! Sitting on rocks in the natural amphitheater, we listened to Shlomo read Matthew 5 in Hebrew. We were encouraged to live out these kingdom our lives as salt and light. Following our gathering, many in the group walked down the slope to the bottom of the hill.
Ancient Boat / Boat Ride
We ended the day by driving back to Nof Ginnosar, our hotel. Displayed here is an ancient wood boat found in 1986. The boat dates to the 1st century, and is probably a boat typically used in the days of Jesus on the Sea of Galilee! We also enjoyed a boat ride on the lake for about 50 minutes. We read from Mark 4 and Matthew 14, the two storm narratives.
We returned back to our hotel for dinner. An optional stone-painting activity was enjoyed by some following another great meal! Today was a great day of focusing on Jesus!