Our first stop was at the Mount of Beatitudes. Overlooking the "Sea," this natural amphitheatre is on a bit of a grassy cliff with a vast plain between the higher ground and the water. This plain would easily hold five thousand people! In what are known at The Beatitudes ("Blessed are the…"), Jesus was not trying to change The Word (the first five books of the Bible), but was talking and encouraging the Jews to express their Judaism in a practical way, even as they were being oppressed by the Romans.
At this holy place, Ruth played her violin after asking God to reveal to us what he wants us to hear or know. This doesn’t happen to me very often, but as Ruth played, I wrote the following: “God is wooing our hearts to see beyond ourselves. Make a difference! See the needs. Live generously. Love deeply to the point of pain. See God in all creation. Expect miracles. Know Mashiach (the Messiah) is near as the worst and best of humanity will be seen. Have faith!”
One of the group, Pastor Steve, recited The Beatitudes from Matthew 5:3-10, and spontaneously we sang, “You are Worthy of It All”. Beautiful, full of awe time!
We next headed for a place called Peter’s Primacy, where Jesus held an early morning fish fry for His disciples after He had risen from the dead. On the way to this site, we were informed that this area experiences a major earthquake approximately every 100 years. The last one was 1929.
It was on this beach that Jesus asked Peter, who was broken-hearted over the apparent loss of his friend, “Peter, do you love me?” It’s such a wonderful reminder that, no matter how bad things look: don’t give up. Don’t quit. Here too we sang and worshiped, and Ruth had all those in full-time ministry stand in the middle of a circle of friendship, and had our new found friends pray over us. I had my eyes open, as I normally do and while the others prayed over us, I saw two large fish jump out of the water, not far off shore. I believe it was a sign that the harvest of souls are chomping at the bit to hear about Love.
On to Capernaum, the city where Jesus spent most of His years. The ruins make out a well-organized city with the Synagogue as the centrepiece. It’s a large building. It’s likely that the dark lava rocks were the original building (the one that Jesus would have attended and taught in!), and the newer white large limestone "bricks" would have been built by a wealthy person. Also, Peter’s mother-in-law’s home is here – the home that housed some of the earliest house church meetings. It is a large home. The view of the "Sea" is breath taking from the shores of this city.
Next we headed to En Gev, which was about three miles from Bethesda, a well-known fishing village. On the way to En Gev, we passed by the Golan Heights, which in the war in 1967, Israel took back from Syria, which was under the control of France. It is known as “The Land of the Waterfalls” and it is beautiful, fertile, and inexpensive land. There, on a cliff, were ruins of a church that marked the spot where Jesus cast the demons out of the pigs, which ran into the "Sea" and drowned.
We arrived at En Gev and it was stunningly beautiful and well-kept. First, we went on a boat ride. The boat could have easily held 75 – 100 people. Just our group of about 20 were on it. With the crew, we danced to Jewish music, listened to more glorious music, sang the Israeli National Anthem, and a few of the women "flagged" at the front of the boat. For about five minutes the boat’s motor was turned off and we simply sat or stood and listened to the silence.
After lunch we had a tilapia fish lunch on a large outdoor patio. Although I’m not a lover of fish, the local cats enjoyed sitting under my chair!
One more stop on the way back to the Hotel Yehuda in Jerusalem took us to a date and spice market.
Ian and I had to catch our plane in Tel Aviv at 12:45 in the morning, so we missed our last session together. We had an uneventful comfortable trip home to Toronto on El Al.
What a trip! Thanks for joining in on our adventure. I would advise anyone to go. We will never be the same! Grateful.
The adventure continues back home….