On my third day in Israel, I stood at the shore for a few minutes and was absolutely mesmerized by the peace and tranquility.
I woke up early today and went for a short walk around the hotel property. Our hotel is right on the Sea of Galilee. I stood at the shore for a few minutes and was absolutely mesmerized by the peace and tranquility.
I quickly realized that the sun was peeking over the mountains across the sea. Ten minutes later I saw one of the most gorgeous sunrises—and I’ve seen my share of gorgeous sunrises, too, growing up close to the beach in Hollywood, FL.
(Sunset over the Sea of Galilee)
What a great start to the day. I was lucky to be up because I am not an early riser. My husband, Ed, is the one who usually gets up early.
We spent the day traveling the entire way around the Sea of Galilee, actually a freshwater lake over 600 feet below sea level. The lake is important for many reasons. It not only provides most of the drinking water for the entire region but much of the New Testament stories about Jesus take place in and around this area. We started off at a museum viewing a 2,000-year-old boat discovered buried under the Sea. Then we boarded a replica of a first-century boat and went north to the Mount of Beatitudes and Tabgha, site of the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes. The sea was calm and the ride up the coast was super. We passed an early kibbutz and a picturesque Greek Orthodox church at Capernaum, the base of Jesus’ ministry in the Galilean region.
Tabgha is home to many serene holy places. First we visited The Church of the Multiplication. The stone church with wooden ceilings is where Jesus turned the two fish and five loaves into enough to feed hundreds. There is a simple mosaic on the floor in front of the altar that has become an iconic symbol.
(Loaves and fishes mosaic on the floor of the Church of the Multiplication)
Then on to The Mount of Beatitudes, the site of Jesus’ most comprehensive teaching—The Sermon on the Mount. While the exact location where the sermon was delivered is not known, this site has been commemorated for over 1,600 years. Only steps away there is a domed Roman Catholic Church set in a beautiful garden run by the Franciscans.
(Franciscan Church at the Mount of the Beatitudes)
Not far away, right on the Sea of Galilee is The Church of the Primacy of St Peter. The church is built right on a gigantic rock that is half in the church and half outside (Mensa Christi). It is written in the New Testament that this is where Jesus asked Peter if he loved him and ultimately gave Peter leadership.
(Mensa Christi at the Church St. Peter's Primacy)
After a lunch of “St Peter’s Fish,” tilapia, by the way, and a quick stop in Bethsaida, home of Matthew, Andrew and Peter, we headed back toward our hotel. We drove through the Golan Heights and made our last stop at Yardenit. At Yardenit the water flows from the Sea of Galilee into the Jordan River. While this is not the actual site where John the Baptist baptized Jesus (the actual location is in Jordan), it is a celebrated site and many people were there to be baptized. Wearing white baptismal gowns, they were immersed in the River Jordan.
(Baptism in the Jordan River)
I could see it was an extremely emotional experience for them. I talked to several of them. It was very touching, watching these people from all over the world accept or renew their faith.
Another extraordinary day in Israel. I can’t wait for tomorrow.