Israel

Israel, Day Three: Where Jesus Walked

Day Three in the Holy Land

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Our morning began on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, one of the world’s greatest locations of beauty.  

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I can almost imagine during creation how God scooped out this tranquil sea with His pinky finger, thinking of how the Son would enjoy three years of ministry along it’s shores. 

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Mount Arbel

Jesus pursued a robust, daily communion with the Father: 

  “Jesus went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone...” (Matthew 14:23)

 

 ” One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God.”   (Luke 6:12)

The geography of Galilee has not changed in the past two thousand years.  With certainty, scholars have identified Mount Arbel as Jesus’ secret prayer location.  

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Standing where Jesus had so often spent time with the Father was deeply moving. From the top of Mount Arbel, Jesus could survey His entire mission field. Capernaum, Magdala, the Sea of Galilee... They are all right there. 

 

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In the photo above you can see a man-made dome.  On just the other side is the location where Jesus fed the 5,000. 

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Peter’s Primacy

Jesus always humbled Himself.  He would leave the high places to reach people in the low places.  

 

Jesus demonstrated this every time He came down Mount Arbel.  He also showed His love for others after His resurrection outside Jerusalem, when Jesus travelled north to pursue Peter.

 

After famously denying Christ three times at Jesus’ darkest moments, Peter must have thought he had blown it.  

 

When Jesus’ friends failed Him, He didn’t shame or lecture them.   Jesus cooked them breakfast! 

 

 “Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Galilee...

Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore...”  (John 21)

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“As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water.

The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about a hundred yards. When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread.

Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.”  So Simon Peter climbed back into the boat and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn.

Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord.

Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead.”

(John 21:7-14)

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The Dead Sea

Finally we began the southern journey toward the Dead Sea and Jerusalem.  

In the photo below, you can see the ancient cliff where Jesus drove a herd of demon-possessed swine into the sea (Mark 5:13, Luke 8:33).

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The Dead Sea was amazing.  

After being warned not to swallow the water (it could be deadly due to the richness of the think minerals), we all jumped in.   

You literally float due to the heaviness of the mineral-rich waters. It is hard to describe what it feels like! 

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Israel, Day One

Four years ago today, I was on a life-changing journey through the Holy Lands.

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Walking where Jesus walked and exploring historical archaelogical sites throughout Israel transformed my faith from mere head-knowledge to 3-D, concrete reality.

Before Israel my Scriptures were black-and-white words.
After Israel my Bible is a full spectrum of vivid colors and imagery.

Now when I read a Bible story, I can picture in my mind the geography, remember the smells, and feel a deeper connection to ancient history.

Tiberius along the Sea of Galilee

Tiberius along the Sea of Galilee

I’ve always meant to blog about my journey, but every time I’ve started to in the past, I’ve always gotten distracted (cursed ADHD!) and never finished.

Having just brought home our fifth and final child, I feel a strong responsibility to document my travels in the Holy Lands for my children. I want them to know that Jesus is God, the Bible is true, Hell is hot and Forever is a long time.

Discovering that Christianity is rooted in physically-verifiable science and archaeology was a game changer for me, and I hope these daily blog posts provide a springboard for their faith journies… and yours.

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Joining me on my journey four years ago today were my best friends at the time, Luke and Dan:

Luke was one of the first people to get behind my dream of launching Life Church Michigan from scratch and his signature is one of three on our legal incorporation papers! Luke is a jokester who continues to be one of my buddies to this day.

Dan was my best friend. I discovered him in 2010 while hiring for an open worship position at my previous church and we quickly hit it off. In 2014, Dan uprooted his family to join our team again. We opened a church together in a former golf center, our families were close, and I provided the funding for Dan to produce his first radio single.

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HEROD’S AQUEDUCTS

First stop in Israel were the ancient aqueducts built by King Herod.

Yes, THAT King Herod.

Still standing to this day, these aqueducts line the Mediterranean Sea and brought fresh water 13 miles (!) from Mount Carmel.

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CAESAREA MARITIME

Next we traveled north to Caesarea Maritime, built by 8,000 people under the direction of King Herod. Over the centuries the site has been destroyed and rebuilt by Muslims and Crusaders.

The site is first mentioned in Acts chapter 10 and boasts the remains of one of Herod’s summer castles along the sea plus an ancient Olympic stadium. Gold medals used to be the only award at the Olympics; it was King Herod who first introduced the Silver and Bronze medals at Caesarea.

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In Acts 12:19, Herod Jr. came to Caesarea where he was struck down by an angel and eaten by worms. If you ask me, that’s a pretty bad way to go.

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RUN YOUR RACE

In Acts 25, the Apostle Paul is arrested and brought here.

Outside Paul’s prison cell was Herod’s Olympic track where he heard athletes practicing hard.

The inspiration for “races” in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27, Hebrews 12:1-3, Philippians 3:13-14, and 2 Timothy 4:7 in Paul’s writings came from this jail cell (which I am standing above in this next photo).

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Remains of King Herod’s summer castle on the edge of the Mediteranean Sea (note the ancient remains of a private swimming pool Herod had installed).

Remains of King Herod’s summer castle on the edge of the Mediteranean Sea (note the ancient remains of a private swimming pool Herod had installed).

Exploring the Olympic Stadium outside Paul’s prison with Jeff Kapusta.

Exploring the Olympic Stadium outside Paul’s prison with Jeff Kapusta.

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In Acts 25-26, Paul is brought before the Roman audience to plead his case.

Dan and I stood in the exact spot where Paul did. Acts 26:1 finally made sense; Paul “motioned with his hand” to quiet the crowd because he was facing an audience in-the-round!

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LEADERSHIP LESSONS

Two big ideas rang out to me standing where Paul stood in his chains:

  1. Don’t define your leadership by what you see RIGHT NOW. Paul had NO IDEA his impact… in chains! When you experience new challenges and struggles, you are growing! The leadership you are providing your church now will outlast you… just look at Paul!

  2. Paul was in prison. That’s tough. Yet Paul did not quit. He fought, finished, and kept the faith. Paul used his current struggles to write Scripture. There is always a struggle before a breakthrough!

Luke and I discovered a Sycamore Tree… the kind that Zacchaeus climbed in   Luke 19  .

Luke and I discovered a Sycamore Tree… the kind that Zacchaeus climbed in Luke 19.

MOUNT CARMEL

Next we travelled to Mount Carmel, the famous site where the prophet Elijah called down fire from heaven in 1 Kings 18.

It struck me that rain is rare in the desert. How does the sparse vegetation grow?

The morning dew, early in the morning, sustains life.

You will discover your sustenance if you will rise early for the dew.

The danger for leaders is when we focus on the rain (ministry out of memory) and forget the dew (fresh revelation every single morning).

This is the spot where Elijah called down fire from heaven.

This is the spot where Elijah called down fire from heaven.

Mount Carmel gives you a view of the entire landscape. Nazareth (a place of hope) is slightly north of Armageddon (the place of death).

Mount Carmel gives you a view of the entire landscape. Nazareth (a place of hope) is slightly north of Armageddon (the place of death).

The overpass marks where the false prophets of Baal were slaughtered in 1 Kings 18.

The overpass marks where the false prophets of Baal were slaughtered in 1 Kings 18.

The prophet towers over entry to this famous mountain in northern Israel.

The prophet towers over entry to this famous mountain in northern Israel.

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SEA OF GALILEE

Finally we wrapped Day One where Jesus walked on water.

I tried walking on the same water:

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