DAY 5 – THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 7: ARBEL, JORDAN RIVER BAPTISM, MAGDALA, CAPERNAUM, SEA OF GALILEE BOAT RIDE, MT. OF BEATITUDE
Today was a day of focusing on the life and ministry of Jesus. We spent the entire day around and actually on the Sea of Galilee. Once again, we enjoyed sunny skies with temps around 90.
After breakfast we drove to the trail-head of Mt. Arbel. We read Matthew 13 on the way. About 25 in the group hiked to the top while others bussed around through Tiberias and approached the top from the west. The view of the lake below was incredible! We could picture Jesus taking His disciples here or even meeting them here after the resurrection (Mt. 28:16?).
From here we drove to the southern end of the Sea of Galilee to the Jordan River. About 40 in the group renewed in baptism their faith and commitment to be followers of Jesus in the river. It was a special time. Jesus Himself was baptized in this river, but further south (John 1, Bethany Beyond the Jordan).
A short distance away is the Kinneret Cemetery. This was a cemetery used by some of the early Jewish pioneers to the land in the early 20th century. Shlomo shared about life in the kibbutz and also read and played some of the poems written by Rachel Bluwstein who died in 1931. This Ukrainian Jew was 41 when she died. He picture is on the new Israeli 20 shekel bill!
“The life of Jesus came alive today! We went to so many places where Jesus served! I really didn’t realize how many times Capernaum is mentioned in the Gospels. And we were there where Jesus taught and healed so many. Today was a special day of walking in Jesus’ footsteps.” -Tour Member-
After a wonderful St. Peter’s Fish lunch we visited Magdala. This was the home of Mary Magdalene from whom Jesus exorcized seven demons (Luke 8:2). This was a prominent fishing city along the western coastline of the lake. This was also the harbor where Jesus sails into after the Feeding of the 4,000 story (Matthew 15:39). We saw a 1st century synagogue here. Jesus no doubt taught from this modest structure that held only 50-60 at most! We also saw a few miqvot (miqveh, singular) – ritual baths.
Driving to the NW corner of the lake our next visit was to Capernaum. This was another harbor city. Jesus used Capernaum as His “home-base” for his Galilean ministry! We saw the 5th century synagogue built no doubt over the 1st one. We also saw the Byzantine octagonal chapel built over what is believed by some as the house of Peter (probably not though). We read from Mark 1,2,9; Luke 7; and John 6… all events that took place here. Jesus displayed s’mekah (authority) here in his healing, teaching, and forgiveness He shared. He also probably called Peter, Andrew, James, John, and Matthew (Levi) here to be His talmidim (a deeper Jewish term for “disciples”).
Mt. of Beatitudes
Above Capernaum on the hill is the traditional Mt. of Beatitudes. While this tradition location only goes back to the late 1930s, this location does include a natural amphitheater where many could have heard Jesus preach His Sermon on the Mount. We read the first part of Matthew 5 and considered Jesus’ kingdom principles here! We are to prioritize “seeking the kingdom (Mt. 6:33)!”
Our last experience of the day was a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee. We also enjoyed a time of worship, reflection, and a nice sunset. We read from Mark 4 and Matthew 14, the two narratives when Jesus calmed the storms. It was a great way to end the day.
We returned to our hotel rooms to freshen up for dinner. We then enjoyed an optional gathering by the water’s edge to review the tour so far and to share together.
DAY 6 – FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 8: BETH SHEAN, SHILOH, JERICHO, JUDEAN DESERT, JERICHO