Our first day in Jerusalem went very well, although, if the days in Galilee were overwhelming, I think Jerusalem was doubly so at first. There is just so much to see and take in, from the ancient history to the modern day city. Also, perhaps I'm a bit of a country boy at heart, so being in Galilee was nice and pastoral. The pace of Jerusalem is a bit more hectic. So far, the death of Ariel Sharon has had little impact on our trip, at least that we can tell. So, to go back a few days, here is where we were late Friday morning, descending the hills on the northwestern side of the Sea of Galilee toward Capernaum:
At Capernaum, we saw the ruins of Peter's mother in-law's house. A church was built over the site in the 5th century AD, and a modern church has been built over all of it in the 1980s. In this picture, you can see two walls of cut stone that would be from the early church. The larger basalt stones (something we've become really good at recognizing by now) are from the house that would have been standing during the time of Jesus. This house is where you have stories like the man being lowered through the roof to be healed by Jesus, as well as several other healings:
Here is a wider view showing the modern church that has been built above the site. To the left are the ruins of the synagogue, so it would have been a short walk for Jesus to come here after teaching in the synagogue:
Here is a closer look at the synagogue. Again, the darker basalt stone on the bottom is from the synagogue that would have been here during the time of Jesus. The limestone above it is from when the synagogue was rebuilt in the 4th century. This is one of the reasons why they're sure that this is Capernaum. In the 4th century, Christianity had become the official religion of the Roman Empire, so it would make little sense for the state to sponsor the construction of a synagogue in this place, except that they wanted a place to show pilgrims what the synagogue may have looked like in Jesus' time.
Here we are on the seats inside the synagogue. Again, this is not the synagogue Jesus would have been in, but it's on the exact same site and looks very similar:
There are some other pieces of the synagogue on display that we looked at as well. This shot shows the Roman Catholic church that's been built here. The Franciscans are the protectors of many of the holy sites that we are visiting.
A picture next to the mosaic welcoming you to Capernaum, the town of Jesus:
From there, we went to lunch at a restaurant just down the road by the Sea of Galilee where we had the chance to try St Peter's fish, so named because of the story in Matthew where Peter catches a fish with a coin in its mouth.
So here is our lunch of St Peter's fish (Tilapia), deep fried. Many of us had it served with the head on, but none of us found a coin:
After lunch, we drove to the top of the Mount of Beatitudes, a hill just south of Capernaum overlooking the Sea where we remember Jesus' preaching the Sermon on the Mount. There were only 25 of us gathered to listen to Pastor Art read the Beatitudes from Matthew, but in Jesus' day there were great crowds of thousands who had gathered to hear him in this place (minus the trees and steps and shrubbery, of course):
The church that has been built on the site, looking toward the Sea of Galilee. The inside is eight-sided to remember the eight Beatitudes:
The altar inside, also eight-sided:
The view from the church back down the hillside to Capernaum, showing you how close this site was to the town. Capernaum they believe would have had around 5000 people living in it during Jesus' time.
Our next stop was a few more miles to the south at Tabgha, where it is believed Jesus fed 5000 people with just a few loaves of bread and two fish. This site was chosen because it is not near any ancient town, and the Gospels say that the people were hungry and didn't have anywhere nearby to get food. Here is one of the doors into the church:
The altar built over the stone where Jesus may have blessed the loaves and fishes. The present church is more modern, but some of the mosaic floors are from an earlier ancient church. You can see the mosaic that this church is famous for with the two fish and basket of bread between them:
A close up of some of the ancient mosaic tiles:
Again, we traveled a bit farther south to a site called the Jesus Boat where they have uncovered the remains of an ancient boat that would be similar to the boats in Jesus' day. This is where we got on our own boat for an evening ride down to Tiberias to end our day. The boat we rode, a modern boat made to look a little more like the boats of Jesus' time:
In the middle of the ride, Pastor Art read the story of Jesus walking on water and inviting Peter out onto the Sea. It was a pleasant evening with very calm seas, so no calming of the wind and waves was required for us. We had a nice ride and a good view of Tiberias where our travels for the day ended and we headed back to the southern end of the Sea to our hotel at Maagan. Tiberias was a city in Jesus' day, but not a place that he visited because it was a Gentile city. Here it is from the Sea:
So that gets us through Day 3. I'm now two days behind, but hopefully I'll be able to catch up a little bit during part of our free day on Wednesday. Today we're traveling from Jerusalem to the Dead Sea, including a tour of Qumran where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered, and we'll also stop in Jericho to see that ancient city where Joshua and the Israelites fought their famous battle of Jericho. Keep praying for us and feel free to leave more comments. Peace to you from Jerusalem.