Our first stop was the museum that housed the ancient fishing boat found in nearby Capernaum after a drought in 1986. An international team of experts found a way to extract it from the mud, and keep its structure intact with foam blown in an around the boat before it was moved. When it reached the shores, everyone rejoiced and some cried as it was lowered to the ground. To think that this first century fisherman's boat could have been one that Jesus preached from, traveled in, or slept on during His ministry! It was a connection for Jews and Christians alike.
Immediately afterwards, we took a larger boat of similar shape out on the lake (more accurate than the word "sea"). At one point, familiar praise choruses were broadcast from a loudspeaker, and many of us joined in. It was the highlight of our day, praising the Lord on the shores of Galilee!
We then moved along to the church of the loaves and fish, which housed a rock and a mosaic dating from the Byzantine era, (around 400 AD), commemorating this awesome miracle of Jesus. Chen mentioned that Jesus came to the common people; the fishermen and farmers, who populated the area.
Peter's house in Capernaum was next, the location being verified by the words, "Peter, Messiah, and Lord" inscribed on the stones on the wall of his home. Later, it was enlarged as people joined to worship with him. "Upon this rock will I build my church" Jesus said (Matt 16:18) ...literally, the first home church! The remains of the town and a synagogue built on the foundation of the first century synagogue was also nearby.
Evidently, the people wouldn't accept Jesus' words, so, Capernaum was cursed and destroyed by Muslims around 700 AD, and never rebuilt (Matt 11:23) How sad! Few miracles were done in Nazareth, his hometown, because they too, failed to believe. I wonder: how many miracles have I missed because I have not had faith in Jesus' words?
After our lunch of pita (bread) and St Peter's (fish), or tilapia, which is abundant in the lake, we took off again for the Mt of Beatitudes, which, because of its location, made a natural amphitheater for Jesus as he spoke from the shore. This amplified His voice so thousands could hear Him clearly.
Lastly, we arrived at Caesarea-Philippi, a city given to Herod the Great's son, Philip, who named it after Augustus Caesar's son. This was a pagan area, dedicated to the god of Pan, who was a protector of nature. Greeks built a memorial in the rock where springs burst forth from the cave. It was so appropriate for Peter to be given the 'keys of the kingdom' here (Matt 16:19) and open the way for Gentiles to receive the Gospel in such a pagan environment.
A full day, but a beautiful location, and lots of insights into Christ's ministry and the Church. Tomorrow, the Dead Sea, Masada and Qumran. Chen, our guide, is willing to be interviewed about his life as a fisherman's son. He grew up in Galilee, and has a treasure house of information that I can use for my children's story of the feeding of the 5,000. It is written from the viewpoint of the little boy who gave his lunch to Jesus. Lila Tov...good night!