This morning began with a walk through the Valley of Arbel or The Valley of the Doves. This route is the path Jesus walked three times a year when he had to travel from Capernum (his home) to Jerusalem. Mustard seeds (the yellow flowers) are native to Israel and they are in full bloom at this time of year. Red poppies and purple clover dot the landscape to paint a breathtaking picture. The site is now a national park and has not changed in over 2,000 years.
We made the most of a beautiful day (65 degrees and sunny) by riding in an antique boat across the Sea of Galilee. The “sea” is actually a very large lake but called a “sea” because water from the Jordan River flows into the lake and then into the Dead Sea. The Sea of Galilee is the major water source for the entire country of Israel (which is the size of New Jersey) which holds more than 8 million people.
A “Jesus boat” (top) was discovered in 1986 when a severe drought caused the Sea of Galilee’s shores to recede. The vessel was buried in and protected by the seabed and was carefully excavated, studied and restored. It has been firmly dated to the first century BCE and is the very same kind of boat in which Jesus and his disciples would have used.
Next we traveled to the Mount of Beatitudes where Jesus preached the famous sermon on the mount (Matthew 5:3). Banana trees (a popular crop here) grow where Jesus is thought to have given us the keys to enter the kingdom of God so an octagonal monetary (eight sides for eight beatitudes) is positioned at the top of the mountain overlooking the valley. We went to the church of the Fish and the Loaves at Tabgha afterwards, the traditional site of the feeding of the 5,000 (Luke 9:10).
Our fearless tour guides and bus drivers (left) took us to a restaurant where we ate St. Peter’s fish for lunch. We all looked for shackles inside the fish but we came up short. 🙂
Next came Capernaum, Jesus’ hometown where his many healings and miracles have been recorded in the New Testament. Jesus cursed Capernaum in Matthew 11:21 because its people would not believe in him and the city was destroyed in 749 AD after a massive earthquake. It was never rebuilt.
Our final destination was the Jordan River where we remembered our baptisms. Two Austrian Christians joined us for the ceremony and one of Asbury’s own, Ron Moore, was baptized for the very first time.
Tomorrow we trek to Tel Dan, Caesarea Philippi, and the Golan Heights. We can’t wait and hold you in our prayers!
God Be With You,