DAY 4 – WEDNESDAY, JUNE 19: ARBEL, YARDENIT/JORDAN RIVER, MAGDALA, CAPERNAUM, MT. OF BEATITUDES, BOAT RIDE
Today we focused on Jesus’ ministry in the Galilee. In many ways it was an eye-opening day. It was also a special day to be able to walk in the footsteps of Jesus. The day was sunny and warmer, with highs in the mid 90s. The afternoon breeze made it comfortable.
Leaving the hotel at 7:30, our first destination was to the peak of Mt. Arbel. Towering about 800 feet above the Plain of Gennesaret, the view from the top of the NW corner of the Sea of Galilee was spectacular! About 15 in the group hiked up the trail while others approached the top from the other side.
Yardenit/Jordan River Baptism
Next, we drove to the southern end of the lake and to the Jordan River. Here at a place called Yardenit, 10 in the group were baptized in the waters of the Jordan River. It was a special time of renewing our commitment to be a follower of Jesus! The water was warm!
Returning to the area north of Tiberias to the western side of the lake, Magdala was our next site. This 1st century site was the home of Mary Magdalene. We also know that Jesus was here too (Mt. 15, Jesus sailed here after the Feeding of the 4,000 narrative). The highlight was seeing the 1st century synagogue here! It was amazing to picture Jesus teaching from this structure! Also among the ruins we saw two impressive miqveh (ritual baths).
“Today was an incredible day re-tracing the footsteps of Jesus! It was like the Gospel stories came alive right before us in full color.” -Tour Member-
Following an incredible fish lunch, we drove to the NW corner of the lake to Capernaum. This city served as the home-base for Jesus’ Galilean ministry. Sitting in the 5th century synagogue (with the 1st century one below it), we read from Mark 1,2 and 9; Luke 7; and John 6. Many of Jesus’ teaching and healing took place here. In addition to the 1st century ruins, we also saw an Octagonal church dating to the 5th-6th century AD. Before leaving the site we enjoyed a time of reflection down on the shoreline. Five disciples were perhaps called to follow Jesus here!
Mt. of Beatitudes
Close by is the Mt. of Beatitudes. Located on a hill above Capernaum, this is a traditional site for where the Sermon on the Mount was taught by Jesus (Mt. 5-7). We heard the first part of Matthew 5 read in Hebrew and English. The Hebrew word, ashrey (blessed, happy, privileged) is used here. We ended our time of reflection here with an optional walk down the slope of the hill to the shoreline.
Ancient Boat/Boat Ride
Our day ended by returning to the area of our hotel. First, we saw a 1st century ancient wood boat extracted from the water in 1986. We also enjoyed a boat ride on the lake. Following a time of worship, we read the two storm narratives (Mark 4, Matthew 14). It was special to visualize these stories unfolding here!
From the boat ride we walked back to our rooms for dinner and a free evening. Many in the group enjoyed a swim in the warm waters of the lake too!