[Church of the Primacy of Saint Peter]
After breakfast, we left the hotel in Tiberias for the Church of the Primacy of Saint Peter in Tabgha on the northwestern shore of the Sea of Galilee. The church was built by Franciscans in 1934, over a flat rock that was incorporated into the church floor. Byzantine pilgrims believed that Jesus cooked and served breakfast for his disciples on that rock when he appeared for the 3rd time to them after the resurrection (John 21). They called the rock Mensa Christi (the table of Christ).
We gathered on the beach where we listened to Ronny and Nathan before they gave us time to explore the church and grounds on our own. Before leaving the beach area, several of us collected small rocks from the water's edge for an activity later in the evening. It was a holy moment--wandering the Sea of Galilee's shore and imagining Jesus and the unfolding of the events that occurred on that day.
And leaving Nazareth [Jesus] went and lived in Capernaum by the sea...so that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled Matthew 4:13-14
Only a few minutes north of the Church of the Primacy of Saint Peter, we stopped at Capernaum--a thriving fishing village on the Sea of Galilee that existed from the 2nd century BC to 7th century AD. The international highway between Mesopotamia and Egypt ran directly through the village--strategically bringing a constant flow of people into the community who would hear and spread Jesus' message and ministry.
While in Capernaum from the shores of the Sea of Galilee, Jesus called Peter, Andrew, James, and John to be apostles. In the village, He called the tax collector Matthew to be an apostle. He healed the centurion's servant, a paralytic, Jairus' daughter and a nobleman's son, as well as Peter's mother-in-law. More of Jesus' miracles recorded in scripture were performed in Capernaum than any other city, yet the people did not believe.
At Capernaum, we stood in the remains of an ancient, white marble synogogue that dates from around the 4th century A.D., but built on top of a dark, basalt foundation that existed during the time of Jesus.
"In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth."
Nazareth, a small village overlooking the Jezreel Valley, is never mentioned in the OT, and unlike Carpernaum, Nazareth was off the beaten path. It was in quiet Nazareth, however, that Gabriel appeared and announced to Mary that she'd be the mother of Jesus. It was where Joseph and Mary returned after fleeing to Egypt following Jesus' birth. And It's where Jesus, known as "the carpenter's son", lived for 30 years, and where the villagers tried to throw Him off a cliff when He told them He was their Messiah.
Today, Nazareth is the largest Arab city in Israel, with a population of around 75,000 that is approximately 2/3 Muslim and 1/3 Christian.
Leaving Capernaum, we headed west to Nazareth, where our only stop was to Nazareth Village--a preserved field of agricultural terraces, wine press and stone quarry in a re-created 1st century village with exact replicas of first century houses, synagogue, farm and olive press.
Our village guide led us past olive trees, farm animals, and flowering terraces, before introducing us to a village carpenter and his wife who demonstrated the tools of his trade and the process of making yarn. Before leaving the village, we visited the synagogue and olive press.
Leaving Nazareth Village, we headed back to the Sea of Galilee for a sunset boat ride with the rest of the Insight for Living tour, but before boarding our assigned boat, we walked through the Yigal Allon Museum in Kibbutz Ginosar to see the Ancient Galilee Boat, aka the Jesus Boat.
In 1986, while walking along the NW shore of the Sea of Galilee, brothers Moshe and Yuval Lufan, fishermen and amateur archaeologists, discovered the remains of a 2,000 year old boat that had been exposed when water levels dropped during a drought.
Following their discovery, a team of archaeologists began an 11 day, 24 hours a day, intricate excavation process to rescue the boat from the mud before the water levels rose again. The conservation process was lengthy and fascinating. It was 7 more years following its discovery before the Jesus Boat was available for public viewing. You can read more information about that process here.
There's no proof or even suggestion that Jesus or his disciples were ever in this boat, but its dating between 50 BC and 50 AD certainly gives gives us permission to imagine the possibility.
(I realize I'm behind in my self-imposed Lenten schedule for M-S postings. But that's just it--it's self-imposed. No rules here, right? Nothing says I can't keep posting Israel trip photos after Easter. )