After our boat ride on the Sea of Galilee, which I did not want to end, we hopped on our bus and drove to the Mount of Beatitudes which wasn’t far. This place is set on the northwestern shores of Galilee, between Capernaum and Gennesaret (Ginosar). The top is around 58m below sea level which fascinates me! What a gorgeous place, with amazing gardens, views to the Sea of Galilee, beautiful parrots and lizards – very tranquil. Nuns look after the place now along with contracted gardeners. There is an impressive Franciscan Church built in 1937, called the “Church of the Beatitudes”.
We spent time under the shade of a beautiful tree, and read aloud the Beatitudes. The following is Matthew 5:1-12 (Amplified version – which I am loving at the moment for the added meaning it brings to scripture)
When Jesus saw the crowds, He went up on the mountain; and when He was seated, His disciples came to Him. Then He began to teach them, saying,
“Blessed [spiritually prosperous, happy, to be admired] are the poor in spirit [those devoid of spiritual arrogance, those who regard themselves as insignificant], for theirs is the kingdom of heaven [both now and forever].
“Blessed [forgiven, refreshed by God’s grace] are those who mourn [over their sins and repent], for they will be comforted [when the burden of sin is lifted].
“Blessed [inwardly peaceful, spiritually secure, worthy of respect] are the gentle [the kind-hearted, the sweet-spirited, the self-controlled], for they will inherit the earth.
“Blessed [joyful, nourished by God’s goodness] are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness [those who actively seek right standing with God], for they will be [completely] satisfied.
“Blessed [content, sheltered by God’s promises] are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
“Blessed [anticipating God’s presence, spiritually mature] are the pure in heart [those with integrity, moral courage, and godly character], for they will see God.
“Blessed [spiritually calm with life-joy in God’s favor] are the makers and maintainers of peace, for they will [express His character and] be called the sons of God.
“Blessed [comforted by inner peace and God’s love] are those who are persecuted for doing that which is morally right, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven [both now and forever].
“Blessed [morally courageous and spiritually alive with life-joy in God’s goodness] are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil things against you because of [your association with] Me. Be glad and exceedingly joyful, for your reward in heaven is great [absolutely inexhaustible]; for in this same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Near the Mount of Beatitudes was a place called Tabigha (Tabkha) which was the site of the feeding of the five thousand. This place where Jesus openly and miraculously meets the basic needs of the people and then shared the gospel with them. The way Jesus worked is full of lessons on how we should approach people in our circle, in our community. The church there is called the Church of the Multiplication (the full name is “The Church of the Multiplication of the loaves and fish” which is quite a mouthful so was shortened). Lunch was at a seaside restaurant, however I wasn’t feeling the best so ate light – Even though there was ‘Peter’s fish’ on the menu. I did try a thick Israeli coffee though…I downed it in two tries, and had it videoed for evidence to prove to my beloved that I did it!
Capernaum was our next stop, located on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee. Capernaum was a major trading village in Bible times, and so there would have been constant activity and movement of people. It is no surprise that when Jesus performed miracles here, that news of Him spread very quickly.
In Matthew 4:13, it explains that after Jesus was tempted in the wilderness, He left Nazareth and went to live in Capernaum. It was here that he met Matthew the tax collector, and James, John, Peter and Andrew the fishermen. Capernaum was mentioned many times in the four gospels. It seemed it was one of the hubs of Jesus’ ministry.
- Matthew the tax collector’s hometown
- Not far from Bethsaida, the hometown of Simon Peter, Andrew, James and John
- When Jesus taught in the synagogue on the Sabbath, he healed a demon possessed man (Luke 4:31-36 and Mark 1:21-28)
- Jesus healed the servant of a Roman Centurion
- A paralysed man was lowered through the roof to Jesus, who then healed him. (Mark 2:1-12 and Luke 5:17-26)
We took some time to consider Jesus ministry around Capernaum, and read more scripture. One particular sermon Jesus delivered here is found in John 6:35-59 – “I am the Bread of Life”.
We visited some old excavations which is believed to be Peters house, which had an octagonal church built on top (around the 5th C). It seems a lot of things were built on top of famous or important places!
The synagogue was not far from Peter’s house – the black rock is the remains of a very old synagogue – most likely one that Jesus would have visited. The white rock on top, is a more recent synagogue (Byzantine 5th Century) built on top.
There is evidence that there were many Christians here – they have found many inscriptions of the Star of David, Menora’s (candlestick from the temple), a palm tree, and the Ark of the Covenant.
We also saw some pretty neat olive presses for oil, and some rocks with grooves carved out of it to let the oil flow. My husband doesn’t think we can get one of these for our olives!
The metaphor here though, is the idea of Jesus being pressed for us. It is only when you press the olives under the heavy stone that you get the golden green oil. Oil which is highly prized. Jesus was pressed under the weight of the world’s past, present and future sin. But out of that pressing comes a gift that is precious, prized and sought after. The other metaphor, is that we are the olive, and sometimes in life we are pressed. Sometimes we find ourselves in a valley that feels like it is pressing everything out of us. Whether it be the depths of depression, or the pain of grief, words spoken to us, physical pain or spiritual warfare, sometimes we find ourselves in a season of pressing. Thanks be to Jesus who is with us in the pressing. And out of the pressing, comes the beautiful oil. We are refined in the pressing, the rubbish is pressed away, and we are left with the goodness. There is beauty that can come out of pain, even though sometimes we have to endure the pressing. “Thankyou Jesus that you experienced pressing, can identify and have promised to be with us always.”