Wednesday was “Jesus day” for the good folk traveling with the 2019 Nurturing Faith Experiences and Campbell University Divinity School Bible Lands Study Tour.
We began with a visit to a museum adjacent to our kibbutz hotel at Nof Ginosar. The museum houses what remains of an ancient boat that was discovered more than 30 years ago during a very dry season when the Sea of Galilee had dropped very low. The boat was built in the typical style of Jewish fishing boats from that time period.
Afterward, we embarked on a boat of our own, motoring into the Sea of Galilee to appreciate the experience of boating on the same sea where Jesus sailed with his disciples — and walked on the water. Dr. Alicia Myers reminded us of several stories about Jesus and the Sea of Galilee while we sat on the same sea, looking back toward Capernaum.
We then visited the excavations of Capernaum, where Jesus made a home with Peter when he was in the area. Jill Knight led us in a devotion, remembering stories about how Jesus taught and healed many people in Capernaum, before we examined the remains of a Byzantine church built over the traditional site of Peter’s house, where an early Christian community worshiped. I large Roman Catholic church, in turn, has been built over the remains of the old octagonal church, set on pillars so visitors can see what is beneath.
After a nice lunch that included the option of “St. Peter’s fish” (a tilapia fried whole, without batter), we made an appropriate visit to Peter’s Primacy, a small church built at the traditional site of where Jesus appeared to the disciples and cooked fish for them after the resurrection. It is also near the place where Jesus would have first called Peter, Andrew, James, and John. Rebecca Freeze reminded us of the story in her devotion, asking us to ponder how we have responded if Jesus asked us to follow him.
From Peter’s Primacy we drove around the north side of the Sea of Galilee, crossing the Jordan where it enters the late, and then down the eastern side, which was inhabited by Gentiles during Jesus’ day. We stopped briefly at a steep slope that many identify with the story of Jesus casting demons out of a man and into a herd of pigs, which stampeded down the hill and into the sea.
We then proceeded to Jardenit, a beautiful baptism site located just south of where the Jordan River re-emerges from the Sea of Galilee. There 14 of our group remembered their baptism in the fresh waters of the Jordan, and we returned to Nof Ginosar invigorated, mostly awake, and still happy to have walked in so many places that Jesus would have known well.