Just let me know if you have trouble hearing me.
As I sit here in the lobby of the Gai Beach Hotel in Tiberias writing this, there is a huge karaoke concert going on. No, really. You have not really experienced karaoke until you have heard it in Hebrew.
Anyway, as the beat pounds in my brain, the second day of my trip to Israel was pretty amazing. After a hearty Israeli breakfast (blog post on that coming at some point. Believe me, it’s worth it), we departed our hotel early for the short ride over to the Tiberias docks on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. There, we boarded boats and headed out onto the water.
Even though it was my second time, the experience still touched my soul. Just to know that I can travel on the same body of water as Jesus is a thrill I will never get over. Dr. Crisp taught about the significance of the lake and how almost all of Jesus three year ministry took place on or near it. The image below is from the middle of the Sea of Galilee looking back toward Tiberias.
From there, we went to the northern part of the sea, to the site of the “Jesus Boat.” It’s really a 2,000 fishing boat found in the mud of Galilee many years ago, and there is no way to know if it is a boat that Jesus may have traveled on. But it is from the same time period, so it’s possible.
Next we went by bus to the site where most historians think Jesus delivered the sermon on the mount. We can’t be certain, but the site has the natural acoustical features that Jesus would have needed to deliver such a sermon. This is a Catholic church built on the site.
Then we went actually down to the sea, where it is thought that Jesus may have last met with His disciples, gave the great “Do you love me?” speech to Peter and delivered the Great Commission of Matthew 28. The sea comes right up to the black volcanic rocks.
Capernaum, the headquarters of Jesus earthly ministry and the hometown of Peter, was not far away. We saw a house that could have been in Peter’s family, and ruins of the city where again our Catholic friends have built a church. Dr. Crisp took some time to explain to the group, which is comprised primarily of pastors, about the significance of Capernaum.
By now it is time for lunch, and that meant crossing to the other side of the Sea of Galilee Kabutz En Giev and a lunch of St. Peter’s Fish, which is slang for tilapia in Israel. It was prepared in the traditional way, which meant that the fish was gutted, scaled, soaked in olive oil and cooked on a fire, fins, head and all. It was served with traditional Hebrew dishes such as pickled beets, spicy carrots, hummus and lentil soup. En Giev is a beautiful restaurant and one of my favorite meals of these trips.
In the afternoon, we traversed up to the top of the Golan Heights to an overlook, where we could see the entire Galilee area. We then came down the mountain, close enough to see the Syrian border. The road we took was as narrow as a county road, with a sheer cliff on on side and no shoulder on the other. We all had to put our trust in our driver Ovad that he would get us down safely and he did.
We ended the day at the southern tip of Galilee, at a baptismal site built by the Israeli government to meet the needs of Christians who want to be baptized in the same waters as their Lord. Though not on the exact site where John baptized Jesus (that was probably closer to Jericho), it is a great spot to fulfill that wish. Several in our group did so, including my pastor at Chilhowee Hills Baptist, Mark McKeehan.
A pretty full day. Tomorrow we will be in northern Israel near the Syrian and Jordanian border and back on the Golan Heights at an old Israeli defense post. Can’t wait.
More, obviously, to come.