Some of my favorite hours in Israel were spent in a boat on the Sea of Galilee. Our boat was bigger that the disciples’ fishing boat and was motor rather than wind powered, but the water was the same surrounded by the same distant hills. It’s the same water the disciples fished in, the same water Jesus walked on, the same waves (though smaller) that Jesus calmed with a single wave.
We sailed on a beautiful clear morning. Gentle waves lapped at the sides of the boat. When the captain cut the engines, we heard nothing but a breeze and a few birds. It was a wonderful moment. If I closed my eyes, I was there with Jesus. I could easily have dozed off just like he did.
Not only did we walk where Jesus walked. We sailed where he sailed, too.
We headed out a little bit earlier today to get a jump on all other tours. This morning’s journey was to several places on the west side of the Sea of Galilee.
Church of the Beatitudes
Our first stop was the Church of the Beatitudes and the site of the sermon on the mount. At a small shaded chapel area we read from Matthew 5 and talked a little about how differs Jesus’ kingdom is from any other.
We then had ten minutes to visit the church along with throngs streaming in and out. My favorite part was the mosaic floor depicting water flowing from the altar.
This site did a brisk business selling intentions for $15 and rosaries beginning at $20.
If you used your imagination, you could picture thousands sitting on the hillside as Jesus taught one afternoon.
The next stop was Capernaum. We saw ruins of Peter’s house where Jesus healed his mother-in-law’s fever. The excavated ruins here were extensive and fascinating.
A very short drive from here brought us to Tabgha, the traditional site of Jesus’ miracle of the multiplication of the fish and bread. The old mosaic floors were amazingly well preserved.
Site of the Multiplication of the Bread and Fish
Our last stop on this part of the trip was The Ancient Boat, a fisherman’s boat preserved from Jesus’ time. Here we also got to go out in a boat on the Sea of Galilee. We meditated on Jesus walking on the water, sang a few hymns, and enjoyed a breezy time on the water.
A short distance away we stopped for lunch at Kitsa Halahal, a roadside Lebanese restaurant with some excellent tilapia. Washed it down with some Maccabee beer.
They thought my fish was too small, so they brought me a second.
It then took us an hour to drive up to Caesaria Philippi where Jesus told Peter he would build his church on the rock. The massive stone cliff still loomed Over rubble ancient remains of temples, fortresses and churches.
Since Jesus was in Galilee for so much of his ministry, this was a good day. Just not long enough to see enough of everything, though!
The official day 1 of our trip was spent mostly in the plane. Nine hours in the air from Miami to Vienna, then another three plus to Tel Aviv, both on Austrian Airlines. Smooth flights all the way.
I watched and really enjoyed two movies, “Tolkien” and “Aquaman” The onboard meals were meh, but I didn’t expect much. I got about three hours of sleep. Not too bad.
We finally landed safely in Tel Aviv. There were a LOT of people in line for immigration. I’m guessing five hundred or so. But also twelve people checking passports, so we got through, got our bags and got on the bus in about 45 minutes.
Because it was rush hour, we had a two hour drive to our first hotel, the Lake House Kimberly in Tiberius. Our tour guide for the week, Tali, lives in Tiberius, and shared lots of info with us on the way. I think most of our group was dozing. She told us what to expect our first day out when we’ll get to Caesarian, Megiddo, Jezreel, Nazareth and Cana.
After we checked into our hotel room, we enjoyed a great buffet dinner on site. All freshly prepared, all typical regional food. Lots of veggies, olives, cous cous, hummus, wine, and a number of thing we liked, but couldn’t identify. Lots of seasoning, too.