What an amazing experience this has been. Let me share what I mean…
The Sermon on the Mount
In Matthew 5-7 we read that Jesus went up into a mountain and taught the disciples. Perhaps its because I’m from the Western United States that I have such high standards for the usage of the word mountain. Nevertheless, the gospels often speak of Jesus retreating into the hills to teach, prayer and sometimes be alone.
Jesus spent most of his 3.5 years of ministry in Northern Israel or Galilee. This is where he called most of his disciples, taught most of his sermons and performed most of his miracles. At the hight of His popularity Jesus gave His most famous sermon. We call it the sermon on the mount. It was here that Jesus and his disciples led great multitudes of people into the hills that overlook the Sea of Galilee, sat them down and expressed some of the most incredible truths the human ear had ever heard. Here it was that Jesus taught the beatitudes. It was from this hillside that He called for His followers to be salt and light. “Turn the other cheek”, “thy cloak also”, “go with him twain”; these are all points in our Lord’s mountaintop sermon.
This was such an emotional experience for me. My imagination went wild picturing the thousands who would have sat upon these hills listening to our Lord.
The Headquarters of Jesus – Capernaum
Though Jesus loved to teach outdoors he often found himself teaching in homes (Mark 2:1-12), and Synagogues (Mark 1:21-28). He traveled throughout the entire region but made his headquarters the hometown of Peter, Andrew, James & John. I had the incredible privilege of reading the Scriptures here that speak of Jesus teaching in this very location.
John 1:29-26 speaks of Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan river. It was a river bank similar to the one behind me that John the Baptist would have noticed Jesus coming and declared of his cousin, Behold the Lamb of God, indicating his belief that Jesus was the Messiah and initiating Jesus’ public ministry. This was all prophesied in Isaiah 40:3 and Malachi 3:1.
Check back tomorrow for my next post. Feel free to comment below:
NancyJanuary 10, 2014 at 11:57 am
I am so grateful to be experienceing this with you. Every picture has brought tears to my eyes
AlanJanuary 10, 2014 at 2:27 pm
Pictures help , It gives a more clear understanding on how it must of been like. but being there in person must give one a much more impression.
GaryJanuary 10, 2014 at 3:56 pm
Awesome Pastor, thank you for the pictures and stories. I hope to visit Israel one day as well. It must make everything we’ve read and studied just become that much more real. I love the picture of the Jordan. It must just be lack of knowledge, but for some reason I’ve always pictured it as a very dry, deserty looking place. Definitely not the case. So cool and so happy for you.
Joshua TeisJanuary 10, 2014 at 10:42 pm
Gary, This is actually just south of the Sea of Galilee and where they have set up a tourist location for people to see the jordan river. The Bible actually says that John was in the wilderness and it is believed that He actually baptized Jesus some 30 miles down stream where it would have been more like a desert. We know this too because immediately after the baptism the Bible says that Jesus went and wandered in the wilderness, fasting for 40 days. – Matthew 3-4
Brian McLaughlinJanuary 12, 2014 at 7:04 am
Dude, I balled like a baby on my first trip. It’s ok bro, let it out, let it out. 🙂 I’m so happy for you. It changes the way you read your Bible for the rest of your life. A great experience and the next tine you go, we will have to go together! 😀 Of course, ultimately we will all be over there someday in the “New Jerusalem.” O’ hasten the day. Enjoy the trip and soak it in.