My heart was sad the night we left the desert because I felt so much of God's tenderness in that dry place and yet it was hungry know the next part of the story. And what I found in Galilee was human and refreshing, humbling and calm. How a few young boys were called into following a rabbi and followed listening to stories and walking the paths. I realized how much of the story I really cheapen if my view of Jesus was simply that He came to die on the cross. Which is wholeheartedly true but if that was all He came to do, He wouldn't have had to walk and engage in relationships and tell stories and mold young men into catalysts of the story.
The night we arrived, here is some of what we saw:
our first view of the sea:
I loved the connections to the Torah & Old Testament, that the Word (God) became flesh (Jesus) and dwelt among us, fulfilling all prophesies. So many times Brad pointed us back to things that happened "because the text said so", meaning that Jesus was to fulfill the text and that directed everything about his life on Earth. Light bulbs started going off, illuminating all of the confusion I have carried about the God of wrath vs. the Jesus of love and how they could ever be united.
As we walked, uniquely a group of 12, moments like the teaching of the Sermon on the Mount became personal & covered in flesh. Not that I saw Brad as Jesus but I began to feel the human element of what it was like to walk with someone for 3 years, to fight against your own paradigm to understand the mission He was bringing of peace through blessedness of those who hunger & thirst for righteousness. To being salt & light and storing up treasures in heaven. I think we can identify so much with the disciples in that walking may lead us to places we didn't want to go, to love in hard ways and to make exchanges for things in our lives for better things and prayerful ways. "Ancient paths" like Jeremiah 6:16 says, bringing rest to our souls. Not comfort and ease but rest for our souls.
This is Tabgha where 7 springs come together making it good for fishing and where our journey began.
From there we journeyed to the 3 triangle cities: Korazin, Capernaum & Bethsaida, where Jesus spent much of his time living and teaching in and around synagogues during his ministry. Here is a picture of a 1st century synagogue so it was after Jesus' time but it is in this region that it is believed the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) was given. We spent some time talking about how the rabbinical process worked and the fact that when Jesus chose the young boys to follow as disciples, they were a rag tag bunch in a sense, those who didn't make the cut and were already in a trade. But they had had all of the schooling & training that disciples of other rabbis had, they just didn't make it to the next level. I love the way even the selection of the gospel is inclusive and not about all we can bring to the table.
From there we went to Capernaum which was breathtaking and easy to understand why Jesus spent so much of his time here. It is situated right on the Intercoastal Hwy, the major trade route, place of influence and really the academic place to be, the Harvard of Galilee. Matthew joins the bunch somewhere around here, throwing a tax collector into a bunch of religious fisherman who probably didn't like taxes too much. Community takes on form. 13 major stories take place here.
And lastly, Bethsaida, which is truly no more than a little village that housed 800 and home to Phillip, Peter & Andrew, potentially James & John too. The simplicity and profoundness is that "we are here because some little boys from Bethsaida obeyed Jesus and changed the world."
Ending our days in the triangle cities by a boat ride across the Sea to our home for the next few days. Reflections on the nets being thrown, the waters being calmed and Peter being told to "take courage" as he got out of the boat to walk on water. Which is translated as "I AM", God's name used in Exodus 3, another connection that resounded deeply.