Gate at Mount of Beatitudes
As I mentioned in my last post, in honor of Holy Week leading up to Resurrection Sunday, I wanted to share some images and memories from my amazing 11 day trip to Israel in May of 2004. The pastor from my church in Colorado lead tours to Israel every year for 20+ years, and I was fortunate to be able to go on that year's trip.
I couldn't possibly show you all the photos I took or tell you all the incredible stories...it would take a book to do that, but I will do a few posts over the next few days and try to give you at least a taste of this most beautiful land, its wonderful people, its rich history, and its deep spiritual significance...
The Galilee Region
Mount of Beatitudes
One of my favorite visits was to the Mount of Beatitudes, the place believed to be where Jesus delivered the Sermon on the Mount. At the top of a hill is a beautiful Catholic chapel built in 1939...
The grounds of the chapel were gorgeous...I was continually amazed at how relatively lush the gardens and farms were in Israel despite the arid climate...
We had a wonderful lunch here served by the nuns at the chapel...I am not a big fish lover or a very adventurous eater, but despite it having its eyes, head and tail, I really liked this fish...it is called Saint Peter's fish from the Sea of Galilee, you will likely better know it as tilapia...
Our visit to the Mount of Beatitudes was capped off appropriately with a reading of the Beatitudes by our pastor....it was very moving there in that setting...
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven..."
Matthew 5:3-12 (NIV)
The town of Capernaum on the shores of the Sea of Galilee is where Jesus made his home during His ministry:
"When Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, he withdrew to Galilee. Leaving Nazareth, he went and lived in Capernaum, which was by the lake in the area of Zebulun and Naphtali— to fulfill what was said through the prophet Isaiah: “Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali, the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles— the people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.”
From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”
Ruins of homes in Capernaum from Jesus' time
It was also the home of the disciples Peter, Andrew, James, John (Matthew 4:18-22) and Matthew [Levi] (Mark 2:13-14). This place was so wonderful because it was so easy to picture where Jesus walked and talked and fellowshipped with the townspeople. There are also ruins of the Synagogue built in 4 AD and they are right on top of the location of the local Synagogue that Jesus taught in during that time...
From the Synagogue, it is just a stone's throw to Peter's house...
And it was then, when I saw the two places and how close they were, that I could see right where Jesus would have walked when He went from the Synagogue to Peter's home, where Jesus healed the paralytic that was lowered by his friends through the roof because of the huge crowd.
Being on that same street and taking those same steps was an
utterly amazing experience... THAT was when every Sunday School lesson about Jesus from my childhood and everything I had studied about the Lord as an adult came so vividly alive and real as it never had before...I will never forget that moment as long as I live...
Here are a few more images from Capernaum...
I'll be back in a day or so with more photos and memories from Israel...I hope you'll come back and take these steps through history and faith with me!