DAY 5– SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 14: ARBEL, JORDAN RIVER BAPTISM, MAGDALA, CHORIZIM, CAPERNAUM, MT. of BEATITUDES, ANCIENT BOAT, SEA OF GALILEE BOAT RIDE
Today’s focus was upon Jesus! It was another sunny and hot day, with temps in the 90s. But at every site and experience we could walk in His footsteps. We could listen to His teaching. We could see him serve people. We could even imagine Him walking on the water of the Sea of Galilee.
Following a Shabbat breakfast, we drove to the trailhead of Mt. Arbel. We read Matthew 4 as we started the day (Jesus calling His first four disciples). 12 in the group hiked about 1.5 miles to the top of this cliff that overlooks the NW corner of the lake below. Other bussed around and walked up the western trail. The view was spectacular. Perhaps Arbel was the mountain where Jesus met His disciples following His resurrection (?, Matthew 28). Before leaving the top, a number of couples renewed their wedding vows!
From here we drove to the southern end of the Sea of Galilee to Yardenit. Here about 20 people renewed their commitment to be followers of Jesus. For a few, this baptism was their primary one, giving testimony of their faith in Christ. It was special for all!
Returning to the area north of Tiberias, Magdala was the next site. This was a city only mentioned once in the Gospels (Mt. 15:39). It was the home of a certain woman exorcized of seven demons, Mary Magdalene. Here we saw a 1st century synagogue. It was incredible to think that, no doubt, Jesus taught here! We also saw a few mikvot (ritual baths), the marketplace and the harbor before leaving.
“I never imagines I would be here in Israel walking in the footsteps of Jesus. I really was blown away with the fact that Jesus highly likely stepped over that threshold leading into the 1st century synagogue at Magdala. We saw Jesus all over this area today! What an incredible blessing!” -Tour Member-
Following a fish lunch, we visited the city Jesus used for his home base here in the Galilee, Capernaum (the village of Nahum). Sitting outside the 5th century AD synagogue, we read from Mark, 1,2, and 9; Luke 7 and 8; and John 6. Jesus taught here with authority (e.g. s’mekah in Hebrew). We also remembered that Matthew served as a port tax collector here (Mt. 9). Before leaving we spent some time on the shoreline of the lake. Jesus called Peter, Andrew, James, and John in this area!
Climbing up to the hills further away from the shoreline, Chorazin was our next site to visit. The ruins date primarily to the 3rd century AD here. In the synagogue, we read from Matthew 23 as Shlomo sat in the Moses’ Seat. Our life-lesson learned here focused upon servanthood and humility.
Mt. of Beatitudes
Nearby is the traditional place called the Mt. of Beatitudes. It could have been here where Jesus preached His Sermon on the Mount. He also taught these kingdom principles in the “plain” (Luke 6). Shlomo read the first part of Matthew 5 in Hebrew before we heard it in English.
Ancient Boat/Boat Ride on the Sea of Galilee
Driving back down to our hotel (Nof GInnosar), we saw the 1st century wooden boat found here in 1986. Next, we took our own boat ride to Tiberias. It was a nice time of worship and reflection. We read the two storm narratives from Mark 4 and Matthew 14 as the wind indeed picked up a bit, causing some whiter caps even! :). Jesus still can still our storms of life when we trust in Him.
Our last stop (and extra stop) was to the Kinneret Cemetery. This was one of the earliest Jewish cemeteries for some of the early pioneers to the land. We honored the life of Rachel Bluwstein, a Ukrainian woman who died in 1931. Shlomo read,sang, and played some of her poems put to song! Her poems still live on for modern-day Israelis. Her picture even appears on the 20 shekel bill.
From here we drove back to our hotel for late dinner and a free evening. What a great day it was retracing the life and ministry of Jesus!