We’ve had a wonderful day in Israel, starting with an early morning visit to Arbel, the cliffs overlooking the Sea of Galilee. This was a new experience for me, but I’d love to spend more time here, hiking, taking in the views, and meditating.
After Arbel, we went to the Mount of Beatitudes, where we found a little natural amphitheater and talked about the Sermon on the Mount, recorded in Matthew 5, 6, and 7.
Nearby Capernaum is an authentic site where Jesus lived for perhaps two years, during which He preached throughout the region. Here Jesus called Peter, Andrew, James, and John; called Matthew; healed Peter’s mother-in-law; healed the centurion’s servant; healed the man who came down through the roof; raised Jairus’ daughter from the dead; healed the nobleman’s son and the women who touched the hem of His garment.
This is one of my favorite stops because it’s the one time we know exactly where Jesus was when He preached a sermon (John 6:59: “He said this while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.”) While the picture below is of ruins of a later synagogue, it was built on the site of the one there in the first century.
This gave me a chance to speak on John 6, and on the fact that our Lord’s sermon there appeared to be a failure (John 6:66: “From that time many of His disciples turned back and no longer followed Him.”) But from that “failed” sermon and that “small town” went history-changing power.
We enjoyed a boat ride across the Sea of Galilee…
And then ended the day with a trip to a newly excavated site of Magdala, home of Mary of Magdalene. This is a fabulous site with the ruins of a first century synagogue…
…and some fabulous modern mosaics.
(My thanks to Halston Hodges for resizing the pictures for this blog).