Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Capernaum and The Mount of Beatitudes

Capernaum is an ancient fishing village on the north shore of the Sea of Galilee in Israel.

It was known as Jesus' own town. "Getting into a boat, Jesus crossed over the sea and came to His own city." Matthew 9:1

It was here that Jesus taught. ("They went into Capernaum; and immediately on the Sabbath He entered the synagogue and began to teach." Mark 1:21)

This is a lovely spot overlooking the Sea of Galilee where Kay taught on John 6.

In John 6, Christ had fed the multitude. The following day He had preached a great sermon in Capernaum in the synagogue, a sermon in which He claimed to come from heaven and to be the bread of life. He told them that they had soul hunger which was infinitely worse than physical hunger and there was only one thing that could satisfy their souls and that was He Himself. And thus He had claimed in this sermon to be the bread of life, the only soul food that can really satisfy. And the response to His sermon was unbelief and many walked away.

That's the way today. People are enamored with the person of Christ. They're enamored with the things He did. But as soon as He opens His mouth and starts to make demands or commands, they walk away in anger and offense. It's amazing how that the Bible is a living Word, just like it says it does, and it mirrors the fickle heart two thousand years ago parallel to the same kind of fickle heart today as men today treat Him the same as they did then.

And that was the question Kay asked us, "Do we want God on our terms?"
The ruins are powerful reminders of Jesus' prediction about this town.

"And you, Capernaum, will not be exalted to heaven, will you? You will descend to Hades; for if the miracles had occurred in Sodom which occurred in you, it would have remained to this day."Matthew 11:23
Three stages of development of the house of Peter. (shaded in grey) Oxford Archaeological Guide

The church of Capernaum was founded on the traditional site of St. Peter's home. Closer to the shore than the synagogue, the house was in a poor area where the drystone basalt walls would have supported only a light roof (which suits the lowering of the paralytic in Mark 2:1-12) and could have no windows.

The floors of these houses and courtyards were made of black basalt cobbles, in which it would have been easy to lose a coin (Luke 15:8).

By the mid-1st century AD, there is evidence that one room in this complex was singled out for public use: pottery and lamps replace utensils of normal family use, and there is ancient graffiti in the plastered walls, some of which mention Jesus as Lord and Christ.

The house was certainly a church by the time Egeria made her pilgrimage in 381, which she said included the original walls: "In Capernaum the house of the prince of the apostles has been made into a church, with its original walls still standing." ~ Sacred Destinations

The Sea of Galilee is just beyond the trees.
Ruins of ancient houses.
A look at the octagonal house of Peter which the Modern Franciscan church has been built over. Withing the modern church there is a glass floor that you can look down in to the house of Peter.
Inside the Capernaum Synagogue.

It was the synagogue on this very spot, whose foundations you can still see, which Luke says was built by the centurion whose servant Jesus later healed (Luke 7:3-5). Jesus also raised from the dead the daughter of this synagogue’s leader (Luke 8:49-53).
Above you can see a relief of the Ark of the Covenant. After bringing down the tablets containing the Ten Commandments, Moses put them in this chest along with Aaron's rod and a bowl of manna, the mysterious bread that fed the Jews during the Exodus. The Bible attributes this ark to be the resting place of God when the Jewish tabernacle was erected during the Exodus. Mysterious powers were attributed to the ark, which stood in the Holy of Holies after Solomon built his temple in Jerusalem. The present location of the ark is unknown; it was not found when the Romans captured Jerusalem in 70 A.D. This sculpture decorated a frieze on the 4th-century synagogue which the Jews built on the site of the original 1st-century one where Jesus worshipped.
The Mount of Beatitudes
The traditional location for the Mount of Beatitudes is on the northwestern shore of the Sea of Galilee, between Capernaum and Gennesaret. Pat and I are standing on the porch of the Roman Catholic Franciscan chapel that overlooks the Sea of Galilee.
On this afternoon, David taught from Matthew 5 on the Beatitudes.

"You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven."

Matthew 5:13-16

The Lord is calling on us to influence the world that we live in, just as He was those disciples gathered with Him as He preached to the multitudes. The Lord is saying that the Christian who lives according to the Beatitudes is going to influence the world as salt and light. In all that a person does and is (or is not), the sum total of our character, consciously or otherwise, affects other people.

Jesus is saying we are to be different; poor in spirit, mournful and meek, thirsting for righteousness, merciful, pure in heart, peacemaking. And even though we are all those things, we don't crawl off into a monastery somewhere. We get out in the world and we live it right there where others can see it and that by our lives they may know who He is.

After David's teaching, we were blessed to be able to have lunch on site. According to Kay, the nuns are well known for their spaghetti sauce! It was a delicious lunch of hummus, salad, spaghetti, and dates for dessert! I don't know how or why I was the first one at the table but I'll let you figure that one out for yourself! Ha!

The grounds here are so beautiful and serene that I am a little sad that there isn't time for some reflection and possibly a nap!

The Ancient Galilee Boat

The Sea of Galilee Boat also known as the Jesus Boat was an ancient fishing boat from the 1st century CE (the time of Jesus Christ), discovered in 1986 on the north-west shore of the Sea of Galilee in Israel.

The remains of the boat, 27 feet long, 7.5 feet wide and with a maximum preserved height of 4.3 feet, first appeared during a drought, when the waters of the Sea (actually a great fresh-water lake) receded.

The boat has been dated to 40 BCE (plus or minus 80 years) based on radiocarbon dating, and 50 BCE to 50 CE based on pottery (including a cooking pot and lamp) and nails found in the boat, as well as hull construction techniques. The evidence of repeated repairs shows the boat was used for several decades, perhaps nearly a century. When its fishermen owners thought it was beyond repair, they removed all useful wooden parts and the hull eventually sank to the bottom of the lake. There it was covered with mud which prevented bacterial decomposition.

Instead of taking the bus back to the hotel, we are traveling by boat across the sea of Galilee. And the ship's crew is raising the United States flag to fly along with Israel's. A wonderful sight to see!!
Our national anthem! (If you look closely, you can spot me sitting on the aisle.)

I wanted a crowd shot! What a fun way to end the day! (Or is it over?!)

Some great singing...

and not only did our guides have a wealth of knowledge and great stories but additionally...

great surprises!!!
And an hour later with even more memories we are back at the Gai Beach Hotel.

Tonight we are having dinner at the Decks restaurant in Tiberius. The restaurant is set on a long deck jutting out over the Sea of Galilee, Decks serves wonderful meats, poultry, and fish barbecued over fires of citrus wood, olive wood, and American hickory imported from Georgia.

We have just been served our appetizers of hummus and falafel. It was a fun evening as Pat and I sat across from David Arthur and alongside one of our favorite families!

After dinner ...

another surprise...

the owner honored Kay with a special tribute and a message from Prime Minister Netanyahu. (Additionally, earlier in the evening we had had a time of prayer for the Prime Minister as he was headed to the United States to meet with Obama. It had been a difficult day as eight people had been killed at the Syrian border as they had tried to illegally cross into Israel.)

After the tribute, the owner of the restaurant put on Elvis and let me just close by saying that Kay Arthur can dance!!

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