Monday, March 31, 2014

Israel - Day 4

At the rate I’m going, doing all of these posts is going to take me SO long.  On day 4, we left the Galilee area and headed south towards Jerusalem and Bethlehem.  We actually drove through Jerusalem to get to Bethlehem.  This drive was only about 45 minutes, but in Jesus’ day, the walk took roughly 10 days.  It was crazy to think about that walk while we were driving a gigantic tour bus on a paved road.

We start in Bethlehem at the Shepherd’s Field.  This is the traditional location for where angels appeared to the shepherds and told them to follow the star in the sky to Bethlehem where the Messiah would be born.

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This was our group walking into the cave where the shepherd’s probably slept.


The inside of the cave.


This was funny.  We ate  lunch at a place in Bethlehem where the waiters passed out Baklava for everyone for dessert.  I have never heard of this dessert but apparently it’s something that’s even made here in the US.  Anyway, he originally gave everyone one and then when everyone got one, he asked if anyone wanted another one.  When he got to me I told him no thank you, that one was good for me (I didn’t even like it all that much).  Somehow he picked me to pick on out of everyone and by the end of the lunch, he had brought me 24 pieces of Baklava.  Everyone thought it was hysterical because I kept saying no and yet he kept bringing them to me.


Israel is WAY more Americanized than you think.  KFC.  I highly doubt any of them even know what that stands for.

After lunch we headed to the church that was built on the location of where Mary gave birth to Jesus.


The main sanctuary in the church.  We were in a line to the right of the alter to go down into a cave in the basement where Jesus was supposedly born.


The cave only fit so many people, so we had to wait until some people left for us to go inside.


This is inside the cave and is the traditional spot for where Jesus was born.  We were able to touch that star and say a quick prayer.  Such a powerful moment.


This manger was kind of built into the cave, so it was likely the spot Jesus was laid after he was born.


We left Bethlehem and headed to Jerusalem.  This is me with Jerusalem behind me.  Israel was full of those big ole’ tour buses you see in the background.

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Our first stop once in Jerusalem was to head to the location of the Upper Room.  This is where Jesus went with the disciples to have the last supper (and very first communion) before heading to the Garden of Gethsemene where he was arrested.


The Upper Room.  This was right before we had communion.  Having communion in the same place as Jesus’ last supper?!?!  Wow.


Was so glad my father-in-law was able to snap this picture of me taking communion in the Upper Room.

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Views of Jerusalem.


We are now at the location of Caiaphas’ house.  This is where Jesus’ first trial was when he was arrested in the Garden.  The art on the building depicts Jesus being lowered into the pit to await his next trial.

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The holes in the rock that Jesus was lowered through.


We walked down a steep staircase into a very small room.  This was where Jesus spent several hours from the time that Caiaphas’ trial ended until the next morning when they carried him to Pilate.


The room at the bottom of the pit.


Within Caiaphas’ courtyard outside his house was where Peter denied Jesus three times and the rooster crowed.  This is inside the courtyard and there’s a statue commemorating his denial to three different people and the rooster.


This is the ORIGINAL steps that lead from the Garden into Caiaphas’ palace.  Jesus walked on these steps y’all.  He was bound and forced to walk this route.  The steps are blocked off so that people can’t walk on them and in order to preserve them….but that didn’t stop me from at least trying to touch them!

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Artwork on the wall next to the steps showing Jesus walking those same steps to Caiaphas’ palace.

That ended our day in Jerusalem and we headed to our new hotel.  My roommate and I got SOOOOOO lucky.  We were one of few rooms that had a balcony overlooking Jerusalem!


Such an awesome day!  Maybe it won’t be 2 weeks before I write about day 5!!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Israel - Day 3

Sorry this is taking me so long.  I have barely had time to go through all the photos to narrow them down.  I took over 800 photos but didn’t want to put them all up so I’ve been trying to go through them to decide what is discussed and what isn’t.  Anyway, on to day 3!

Day 3 started early for me!  A handful of us decided to get up early and do a quick 3 mile run around the Sea of Galilee.  That was AWESOME!


After showering and eating breakfast, our group headed to the Sea again and went to visit the Church of the Beatitudes.  If you’ve read Matthew, you know the 8 beatitudes.  Below is an example of one:


These stones were all over the grounds and each one had one of the beatitudes on it.


This is a picture of the Church that sits on the traditional location for where Jesus taught his famous Sermon on the Mount.


We had several people get up and read the beatitudes along with the Sermon on the Mount.  Hearing the words while sitting in a place wondering if a disciple or another Jew that was coming to know Christ sat in that exact same spot was pretty powerful.

After visiting the church, we headed to another church on the Galilee.  This one is called the Church of Multiplication.  You may already know it’s significance by the name.  This is where Jesus multiplied the fish and loaves and fed the 5,000.

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Inside the church.  It was beautiful!


At the alter is a rock that is well preserved.  It’s said that this is the rock where Jesus prayed over the food and broke the loaves and handed them to the disciples to pass out.

We spent some time at this church, but then left and headed to yet another church.  This one is called the Church of the Primacy.  After Jesus was resurrected, he appeared to the disciples by the Sea and cooked them breakfast.  This rock is where that was said to have happened.  That hole you see in the middle of the rock?  That’s where he would have cooked the fish by starting a fire in the hole.  No idea how they did that….didn’t ask.

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This is the Church of the Primacy from the outside.  This is also the spot where Jesus asked Peter 3 times if he loved him and eventually Peter got offended, but Jesus told him to go forth and feed his sheep (his people).


This is me collecting some rocks from the Sea of Galilee for a friend.  After leaving the church, we headed towards Capernaum.  This is where Jesus lived and taught for the majority of his ministry.  He lived her with Peter.  Nothing has been built on top of Capernaum like it has been in other areas.  The whole city is just ruins, which I liked, personally.  Sometimes it’s hard to imagine what Jesus saw when it’s been covered up by buildings and churches and walls and shops, etc.

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Bible study just outside the remains of the synagogue where Jesus taught.


The sign says it all.  Basically the black rock you see at the bottom was the remains of the synagogue Jesus taught at.  It was built on top of in the 4th century, which is the white section of the wall. 

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These are all remains of houses.


This is a pretty important house.  It’s Peter’s mother-in-law’s house (and Peter’s too since he lived with her) which also means that Jesus lived here for a time while he was in Capernaum.  After teaching at the synagogue one day, Jesus walked to Peter’s MILs house because she was very ill.  He healed her and she got up immediately and started cooking for them.


View of the Sea of Galilee from Capernaum.  This is also where Peter would have gotten the fish out of the water that had the denarius in its mouth that paid Jesus and Peter’s temple tax.  The place where we ate lunch that day was very well known for its “Saint Peter’s fish” which memorializes Peter catching the fish that paid their taxes.


Remember when I said the thing about the cats?!?!  Yeah I wasn’t kidding…


Everyone eating lunch.  We had a great view of the Galilee during lunch.  It was awesome.


This was the Saint Peter’s Fish that you could order.  Made me want to barf.  I got the pizza option.

After leaving that are we had one last stop for the day.  It was a place called Kursi.  Remember in the Bible where Jesus sailed across the Galilee into Gentile country and was met by a man possessed by so many demons that he referred to himself as “Legion”?  Well, as the story goes, Jesus rebuked the demons out of the man and into a herd of pigs that subsequently jumped off a cliff into the ocean.  Kursi is the cliff they jumped off.  We had communion in the remains of a church nearby and then me and my father-in-law ran super fast up to the hill to get better pictures of the cliff.

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The cliff :)

Another awesome day at the Galilee.  This was our last day in this region.  The next blog post will take you to Bethlehem and Jerusalem and so many more places!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Israel - Day 2

Day 2 may have been my favorite day.  Any time that we spent around the Sea of Galilee was incredible!  We began the day by heading towards a town on the Sea of Galilee called Magdala.  As you probably could figure out, this is the town where Mary Magdalene was from.  It was also the best fishing spot on the Galilee back in those days so most boats ported from Magdala for fishing.


You can’t really see it in the above picture, but that’s the town of Magdala.  See that cliff to the left, then a valley that’s met by another smaller cliff on the right?  That valley is called The Valley of the Doves.  It’s the only logical place where Jesus would have traveled into the Galilee region from other towns.  The Sea of Galilee is literally in a bowl surrounded by mountains on all sides except for this little valley, which would have been the only way to enter.


My fabulous in-laws!  So glad I got to go with them!


I think what I loved most about the Sea of Galilee is that it’s fairly unchanged.  You’ll see in my future posts that when we go to all the other places Christ went, cities and buildings have all been built on top of them.  The Galilee on the other hand has remained for the most part unchanged.  It was breath taking to look at this view and know that Jesus was looking at the exact same thing.  I know now why Jesus loved this Sea so much.


You also can’t really see it, but there’s a very small church in the background of this picture.  It’s called the Church of the Beatitudes and was built on the traditional location for where Jesus gave the Sermon on the Mount.  Which is why my Bible is turned to Matthew chapter 5.  Reading the Sermon on the Mount while looking at where it was taught.  There’s just no words.


Every single day we were on this trip we had communion.  It was so neat to have it at such incredible locations.  The communion for Day 2 was on the boat on the Sea of Galilee.  Awesome.

After leaving the Sea of Galilee, we headed towards the town of Cana.  Cana, if you remember, is where Jesus performed his very first miracle and turned water into wine at the wedding of a distant relative.  The original church was obviously destroyed, but another church was built on top of it’s location and it is GORGEOUS.


Shops were all over the town definitely making a profit off of it’s biblical reference.  All these places sold the Cana wedding wine.


Like I said….GORGEOUS.


Also a beautiful courtyard within the church.


We all went into a small chapel just next to the courtyard and we read the scriptures about Jesus’ first miracle.  After the reading, any couple that was interested in renewing their wedding vows stood up and Don renewed their vows.  Wish Justin was there with me.  We will be married 5 years in July.  That would have been a great way to celebrate it!


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How gorgeous were the streets of Cana!!!


This is where we ate lunch in Cana.  And check out our sweet little tour bus in the background.  That baby was our home away from home :)  As far as food in Israel goes…the pickiest of eaters could eat there!  There was always a chicken option and one day we even had pizza and french fries.  Seriously.

After lunch, we left Cana and headed towards Nazareth, Jesus’ hometown!


This church was ENORMOUS.  I couldn’t even get it all in one picture.


Inside the church is this little cave.  It’s the traditional location for where the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary and told her that she would conceive and that he should be called Jesus.


View outside the church of Nazareth.


Close to where the church is, archeologists found a series of these caves.  These are where the people of Nazareth lived 2,000 years ago.  You couldn’t help but wonder if Jesus walked around these caves and played hide-and-seek with his friends as a boy here. 


Just on the outskirts of Nazareth you see this cliff.  This is where the people of Nazareth tried to throw Jesus off before he was able to get away.  Jesus taught at the synagogue in Nazareth but the people there didn’t receive his message well.  They had known him since he was a boy and refused to believe he had God’s authority as a prophet.  They were so angry that they tried to kill him.  It’s when Jesus said “a prophet will never be honored in his hometown”.


I can’t NOT talk about the cats.  O…..M……G.  Cats were everywhere.  EVERYWHERE.  I imagine this is what it was like in Russia during the Olympics with all the stray dogs.

Always keep in mind what I said in my last post about what our guide told us.  “If it’s not here, it’s near”.  Some of these places have churches built on top of them to memorialize them, therefore the exact location may not be that exact spot, but it is very close.