Today was the best yet. After eating breakfast and checking out of our hotel we headed to the top of the mountain where Jesus preached His famous Sermon on the Mount found in Matthew 5-7. The bus dropped us off and we hiked down the mountain to the most probable spot. As the Scriptures were read while overlooking the Sea of Galilee we got a taste of what all the people hearing Jesus must have experienced. It was a “WOW” moment. You’ll be interested to know that the mountain is shaped in a way where the acoustics were perfect for speaking to thousands. Some of our folks were scattered all around and said they could hear every word clearly as a spoke with a conversational tone.
We continued to walk down the mountain all the way to Tabka where Jesus fed the 5000 and later met with Simon Peter after His resurrection. Standing there on the shore of the Sea of Galilee we were imagining what Peter must have thought when Jesus restored, forgave, and commissioned him. It’s so great to know that He loved us enough to die a sacrificial death on a cross that we might be forever forgiven. He is not naïve and knows exactly what we’re like. He loves us and has done what was necessary to restore our broken relationships with Him. He does forgive, restore, and commission us with a life worth living when we respond to His love with our faith and trust.
Then it was off to Capernaum. This was the place where Jesus spent most of his time during His earthly ministry. It was the home of Simon Peter’s mother-in-law and the location where Jesus healed the paralytic who had been lowered from the roof. We walked in the excavated synagogue and thought about what it must have been like to hear Jesus teach there on many occasions.
Lunch proved to be a welcome Israeli tradition. We had some interesting hamburgers in pita bread. Some had falafels while I had a Shnitzel sandwich. It was pita bread packed with chicken, salads and french fries. Oh yea, and don't forget the hummas. Yummmmm.
Beth Sh’an was our next destination. This was the place where the bodies of King Saul and his three sons were carried and put on display after they had been killed by the Philistines (1 Samuel 31). This ancient city was inhabited as early as 3000 B.C. and excavations have revealed 18 levels of occupation over that time. It was also one of 10 cities referred to as the Decapolis and had a 7000 seat amphitheater. Today, it is one of the largest archaeological excavations projects underway in Israel. Talk about a walk back into time.
We then drove by Gideon’s Spring next and thought about how important it is to God that we never steal credit from Him. God used the spring to reduce the number of men Gideon would take to battle with him, from 10,000 to 300, against the Midianites. God wanted to demonstrate that He is all powerful and can be trusted. He is constantly inviting us to join Him in what He is doing but doesn’t expect you to take the lead. He will lead and do the most miraculous things. He simply wants our admiration, praise, trust, and obedience. He has designed us with the ability and calling to glorify Him.
The end of the day culminated with our arrival into Jerusalem. There was not a dry eye on the bus as we drove up to Mt. Scopus and overlooked the city. We can’t wait to do some exploring tomorrow.