Saturday, February 1, 2014

Mt of Beatitudes - Israel Day 2

Israel Day 2 brought many sites and churches.  

It seems like Byzantine Christians (4th century and onwards) wanted to mark everyplace that might be related to Jesus with an elaborate church or shrine.  Kind of like when Peter wanted to build three tabernacles/ shrines on the mountain when he saw Jesus transfigured and talking with Moses and Elijah (Mark 9:5).  At any rate, when those churches were destroyed, they were rebuilt by the next group of Christians that came to the Holy Land.  Many of these original sites were traditionally the place where certain events took place and so that is why a church or shrine was built there.  Of course it was several hundred years after Jesus was walking around, so tradition could have it wrong.

Each day of this trip was full of places to visit.  I may have to divide the days up a bit so that my posts aren't too long.  The first official day we spent around the Sea of Galilee.  As we left on the bus, I snapped this picture of an early morning boat.  Fishing was banned in 2010 to try to replenish the aquatic life and it was unclear how long that ban will continue.  So, this boat at a distance helped me imagine the disciples fishing.

photo credit - images
This map will help you see some of the places we went on this day.  We started out going to the Mt. of Beatitudes.  If you look in your Bible, you won't find this place mentioned!  It is called this because this is where they think Jesus might have done some of his teaching - specifically the Sermon on the Mount.  (Mt 5-7, LK 6).  In Matthew it says that he saw the crowds and went up on the mountain and began to teach them.  In Luke it says he was up on the mountain and called the 12 apostles then he went down and taught them at a level place.  This could be the place where Jesus taught, but even if it isn't, it would be somewhere in the vicinity.  So we visited this place.


This is very close to Capernaum where Jesus seems to have been based during much of his time in Galilee.  It is also a natural amphitheater from the top.  So, Jesus could have taught here without raising his voice much and with a crowd below him or around him.  It has a wonderful view of the Sea of Galilee too!  The above pictures were taken below the Church that was put up here in the 1930's over an ancient church that was crumbling.  The next pictures are inside the church.

looking up into the dome - fish swimming around the water or in golden water
means - Praise You Christ!

The church also had some beautiful gardens around it where one could contemplate the words of Jesus and the beauty of the area.  As I think about the whole Sermon on the Mount as found in Matthew, it seems to me that Jesus is calling us to love as he loved.  He asks us to be humble, gentle, merciful, peaceful and to persevere under suffering.  He tells us to give up worry and to rely on him.  He calls us to live our lives so that even our enemies can see our love.  He tells us we will be known by the fruits we bear.  Are we growing and showing others the way to Jesus and thus producing good fruit or are we producing bad fruit by withering in his presence due to lack of abiding in him and showing the world that we can't rely on God?

This stone mosaic of the fish and bread reminded me of Jesus' words about a father giving his child a stone when the child has asked for bread.  Jesus goes on to say that our Father knows how to give good gifts to his children who ask him for something.  

Go back and read the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew chapters 5-7.  Imagine yourself in the crowd or sitting with the disciples listening to Jesus give this teaching on this hillside.  Be overwhelmed by how amazing this teaching is!  Jesus finishes by saying that the one who hears these words and does them (yes, not just hears but does!) is like a wise man who builds his house on solid rock rather than shifting sand.  Those people on that hillside went away from this teaching amazed.  Are you?  He taught like one who really knew what he was talking about, not like the teachers of that day or even of today.  He knows the Father and he knows how we should live.  I pray that we will all be like the wise home builder.

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