Sea of Galilee

Monday, April 25, 2016
Kinneret, North District, Israel
Tiberias --> Capernaum --> Mount of Beatitudes

A whirlwind of a trip by the sea . This was one of the most relaxing and yet somehow longest days we had on the trip. We visited three different locations along the coast of the Sea of Galilee. Each place very unique and each place not without their own sort of charm.

The Charm of Tiberias: This was my least favorite location on the entire trip. Not that I regret stopping in this quaint beach town on the one day when everyone from 100 kilometers away converged simultaneously on its boardwalks, filling up every parking spot in sight and crowding the sidewalks with laughing children, tired parents, and unattended teenagers. The charm of Tiberias is that of a summer carnival with food vendors and carnival games, but with a view of the sea. On any other day it would have been quiet and we would have walked the empty boardwalk and easily chosen a place to sit and talk while enjoying the empty view of the wind rustling across the water.

As we drove away from Tiberias we spotted groups of people pulled off the main road . Tents were pitched in any clearing near the water as families and friends spent their holiday barbecuing and swimming in the sea. The skies were clear and the sun glared across the surface of the water. The hills across the water added to the sea's freshwater beauty. By size alone it seems out of place when you get near the shore. Rolling hills through grain fields and orchards led us to our next destination.

Capernaum seems artificial, placed behind a fence and everything in its proper place. A church covers the house of Peter the apostle of Jesus Christ. It may not have been too far from here where Jesus first called many of His disciples and made them "fishers of men" (Matthew 4:19). The curators of the property have done well in beautifying the spot with gardens of flowers of all kinds and laid ruins around in straight rows for people to see. You can enter the church above the house where a clear panel allows you to see the tiny rooms where Peter and his family housed Jesus . A nun walks the steps inside to ensure that the silence is kept in a place that some consider to be sacred because Jesus was there. Most of the surrounding stones from the ruins of this village are black, most likely made of volcanic basalt, but the synagogue that stands above the ruins of the previous rendition is a contrast of white stone, standing tall and exposed. There's a garden area next to the sea where we went and sat on the rocks to feel the breeze coming up from the south as small waves crashed against the shore. The sea is definitely real.

The Mount of Beatitudes is another place that probably looks nothing like it did when Christ walked the shores of the sea. This spot may be the place where Christ found a flat area up on a hill and preached to His disciples and many others, telling them of the true nature that leads to blessings from our Heavenly Father, and expounding on the spirit of the law we are to continue to keep (Matthew 5; Luke 6) . A peculiar church sits here on the side of a hill overlooking the sea; I often ponder the extravagant attempt of some to create heir own version of beauty displayed next to the splendor of God's creation that cannot be outdone by any. A beautiful garden lined with several varieties of hibiscus and many other flowers leads to a group of stones where we sat for a bible study on the beauty and essential importance of the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the plan God has for us to receive eternal life.

“But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up—if in fact the dead do not rise. For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable. But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep” (1 Corinthians‬ ‭15:13-20‬).
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Thank you for sharing your travels. I really enjoyed it.