We started the day off with prayer at 6:30am with a majority of the group.
It is Sabbath here in Israel. It started at sundown (around 6pm) yesterday and will go on till sundown today. What does this mean? It means breakfast will be simple (nothing cooked). I ate homemade granola with flax seeds, dates, and yogurt.
Stop 1: Faith Boat Ride & Jesus Boat
We walked to a nearby dock on the Sea of Galilee. Apparently, all five groups would be together for this activity. We all climbed into two boats that were side by side (I think they were tethered actually). We started in Tiberius and sailed to Capernaum.
On the boat ride, we discovered the owners and crew were Christians and loved gospel and praise music. We praised God singing (also in Hebrew at one point) while sailing on the Sea of Galilee, listened to the pastor talk and read scriptures, and most importantly, we prayed as a group.
While sailing on these boats and making our way across the Sea of Galilee, I got chills. I remember all the scriptures about Jesus being on this very lake with his disciples. Wow.
Once we landed in Capernaum, we went into a museum where we got to see a boat that was recovered from during Jesus’ time – from the very Sea of Galilee.
Then some boats from Tiberias landed near the place where the people had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks.
John 6:23 (NIV)
Stop 2: Mount of Beatitudes and Byzantine Church
“Sermon on the Mount” is recorded in Matthew 5-7 and Luke 6. Scripture gives no indication of the exact location of this event, but the Byzantines built a church to commemorate it at the bottom of the hill (see photos). The mountain is topped by a Catholic chapel built in 1939 by the Franciscan Sisters with the support of the Italian ruler Mussolini.
While there, our entire group had communion together. Again, chills. Wow.
Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them. He said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
Matthew 5:1-12 (NIV)
Stop 3: Capernaum the Town of Jesus
In existence from the 2nd c. B.C. to the 7th c. A.D., Capernaum was built along the edge of the Sea of Galilee and had up to 1500 residents. Today the ruins are owned by two churches: the Franciscans control the western portion with the synagogue and the Greek Orthodox’s property is marked by the white church with red domes.
This is the archeological town of where Peter was thought to live at some point and where Jesus spent some of his ministry. The house that was thought to be Peter’s mother is preserved (see photos).
Leaving Nazareth, he went and lived in Capernaum, which was by the lake in the area of Zebulun and Naphtali—
Matthew 4:13 (NIV)
When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help.
Matthew 8:5 (NIV)
A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home.
Mark 2:1 (NIV)
Stop 4: Ein Gev Fish Restaurant
The famous Ein Gev fish restaurant started off as a small kiosk some 60 years ago, today it is the largest restaurant around the lake area.
This one is worth mentioning for sure. This restaurant is located in Ein Gev (South on our way to the Jordan River). The food was amazing. The first course was pita bread and all kinds of slaws, chopped vegetables (salads), and hummus. Next came the main course… a whole fish! It was caught in the Sea of Galilee and was Tilapia from what I was told.
Stop 5: Yardinet (Jordan River Baptism)
After lunch, we headed south along the Sea of Galilee for 14.3 km (almost 9 mi) and came to Yardinet.
The Yardenit Baptismal Site (“Yardenit” – means Little Jordan in Hebrew) is located on a pretty stretch of the Jordan River near the southern tip of Lake of Gennesaret. Every year, over half million Christians from around the world flock to Yardenit to visit and/or be baptized at the “place” where Jesus was baptized 2,000 years ago.
We were instructed to get dressed in these very old public dressing rooms and showers. We were fortunate that our church shirts made for this event were dark purple rather than using the traditional issue of white robes (you can see through these – yikes!).
As we were in the water on the cobblestone path and railing, little fish started nibbling on people standing in line to get baptized. You could tell those people as they would suddenly yell or hop up in the water.
George Jackson baptized me at the same time Alan Jackson baptized Dewayne. This experience sent me reeling spiritually. I got chills and found myself dreaming of what Jesus experienced. Another wow moment, one that I will not forget.
When done, we walked out of the water with our group cheering and celebrating our baptism. Praise Jesus!!
Dinner and Diamonds
Dinner was so good. We were all so excited from the long day. It was a HUGE buffet of fresh fruits, vegetables, fish, and desserts that I couldn’t identify.
After dinner, we hopped on one of our tour buses and headed to National Diamond Center by Caprice just a few minutes down the road. We were greeted by a lady that knew her diamond stuff and then we were escorted into the main floor where there was jewelry everywhere. Me and Dewayne talked and it was time. I chose the diamond and the setting, and they put it all together and sized it right there.
So, I got my first diamond ring. It was our 15 year anniversary in June and having a souvenir like this was super special. Unfortunately, I wasn’t allowed to wear it until we were heading home due to the V.A.T. (we get money back from taxes there at the airport since Israel prices already include taxes and sometimes those are overpriced).