Day Four November 9th, 2012
Today our focus was on area surrounding the Sea of Galilee, specifically on the north end. It is there that Jesus spent the majority of His ministry. We started the day by going to a scenic overlook that gives an incredible view of the Sea of Galilee. Just below us here is the town where Mary Magdalene was from.
After that initial look, we then visited the area where it is believed that Jesus taught the Sermon on the Mount.
As you can see, there is a Catholic church on the site—plus lots of rules about areas you can go in and can’t go in. I was trying to find a quiet spot—and succeeded, only to discover later that it was a forbidden area. So I guess I broke the “law” while meditating on the Beatitudes. Interesting.
The view of the Sea of Galilee from there is spectacular.
So after settling into my illegal spot, I decided to read out loud the entire Sermon on the Mount. It was a cool experience….to be reading about God taking care of the flowers of the field with flowers all around me, and to hear birds chirping as I read about God taking care of the birds of the air. I especially enjoyed reading the Lord’s prayer–a prayer that is so meaningful to me in my prayer times with the Lord—and realizing that this was very likely the spot where Jesus first taught us to pray that way.
We then visited Jesus’ home town—a place known as Capernaum. It is no longer an inhabited town but rather is another site for a Catholic sanctuary. While it’s easy to get frustrated at all these churches built on holy sites, it is helpful to remember that, given the nature and volatility of the region, these churches provide protection against these holy sites being desecrated from militant Muslims who don’t share the same value.
The fact that Capernaum is in ruins is interesting, given the fact that Jesus Himself rebuked Capernaum for not believing in Him, even though they had seen numerous miracles. “And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted to the heavens? No, you will go down to Hades. For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Sodom, it would have remained to this day. But I tell you that it will be more bearable for Sodom on the day of judgment than for you.” Matthew 11:23-24. Wow. Had Sodom seen the same miracles Capernaum had witnessed, they would have repented. How tragic that Jesus’ home town refused to believe in Him.
We stood on the foundation of a synagogue that was likely the one Jesus went to while He lived in Capernaum. Another structure was later built on this site, but the dark foundation stones would have been the ones in Jesus’ day.
To think that this was the spot where Jesus worshipped when he was growing up. This was the place where in Mark 3 Jesus healed a man with a shriveled hand. Imagine, the God of the universe visiting us in this way. This region of Galilee was actually known as kind of backwoods area—not nearly as sophisticated as Jerusalem. [Sort of the way Fort Collins folks look at us in Greeley :)]
Which makes Isaiah 9 even more fascinating. Seven hundred years before Jesus was born, Isaiah prophesied “Nevertheless there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. In the past He humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future He will honor Galilee of the nations, by way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan…For to us a child is born, to us a Son is given and the government will be on His shoulders.” Galilee had been a place of dishonor but God was about to change all that. Enter Jesus.
The fact that Jesus came from Galilee and that He didn’t hobnob with the religious elite (or the politically powerful) again speaks volumes to us about how God does things—through the weak and despised things of the world. “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the deep darkness, a light has dawned.”
Into our darkness, into our shame, Jesus enters. What an amazing Savior.