Mount of Olives panorama

Mount of Olives panorama
A panoramic view of the Mount of Olives

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Galilee Day 2

We started the day with three sites/activities in Galilee.  Then after lunch, we drove south to Bet She'an, which was also the New Testament Decapolis city of Scythopolis.

Today was, by the way, Pentecost, which celebrates the empowerment of the apostolic church by the spirit.   I had spoken of it in sacrament meeting the night before, and Rachel and I wore red, the liturgical color of the feast, to remind ourselves of the event throughout the day (see my blog post in LDS Seasonal Materials on Pentecost for more background).

First we boarded a boat at Nof Ginosar (NT Genneseret).  The Israeli crew began by hoisting the American flag and playing the national anthem.  Then, because they regularly cater to an evangelical clinetele, they played Christian rock as we cruised into the middle of the Sea of Galilee.

Then the captain cut the engine so that we could hold our devotional, which consisted of reading Mark 4 and singing "Master the Tempest is Raging," followed by Matthew 14 and singing "When Faith Endures." I then shared the story "Our Galilee Miracle" about our son, Samuel. 


The crew then played Hebrew folk music and some of us danced as we cruised back to the port.  Oh, and BTW, Rachel and I are wearing red for Pentecost today.

Our next site was St. Peter’s Primacy, which was identified by early Christians because of the seven springs in the area that feed into the Sea of Galilee.  Because one of them is warm, it creates the most likely place where fish would be gathering near the shore as described in John 21.  As a result, early Christians commemorated it as the place where the Risen Lord met Peter and six other disciples and performed the miracle of the astonishing catch of 153 fish.

Beyond the small stone church that features the mensa Christi, or Table of Christ, is a stretch of rocky shoreline that allowed us to go right down to the Sea of Galilee.  There under a large tree, George our guide and I talked to the group about John 21, and we sang "My Redeemer Lives."


Our final site before lunch was Capernaum, the town which served as the headquarters of Jesus’ Galilean ministry.  Indeed, more recorded miracles occurred here than at any other place.  After George gave us a description of the site and its features, such as the remains of synagogues from different periods and the “house of Peter” among the ruins of first century dwellings, I gave our group a survey of the miracles Jesus performed here and what they symbolized.


We had lunch at the `En Gev fish restaurant, where most of us had the traditional “St. Peter’s Fish,” a mild tilapia. 


Finally, we drove south to the site of modern Bet She’an.  It was known by the same name in the Old Testament, when it was the city where the Philistines hung the bodies of Saul and Jonathan.  Hellenized after Alexander the Great, it was known as Scythopolis and was one of the Greek cities of the Decapolis.  Indeed, on a crossroads, Mary and Joseph may have passed through it on their way to Bethlehem, as Jesus may have on many of his trips to Jerusalem.

While there are many early ruins on the acropolis, most of the surviving ruins are of an impressive Greco-Roman city that dates to the later Roman and early Byzantine periods.


An evening in Tverya (Tiberias)


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