On Wednesday we did one of the best field trips in the world. We start out by traveling across the Sea of Galilee by boat. We sang “yo ho, yo ho” as a family for everyone. They put up the U.S. flag and played the national anthem. Then we had a while of fun, and then they stopped and we had a devotional.
Some of the family on the boat
Class on the boat
We read the account of Jesus calming the sea as found in Mark 4,and sang Master the Tempest is Raging. We spoke of how Jesus will take care of us. Sometimes life’s storms will be crashing about us, and certainly the storms of death and hell will because of our sinful and fallen nature. At times it will seem like Jesus is asleep, and we will wonder why he doesn’t come to rescue us. But when the time is right, and often just before we sink, he will calm the storm for us. After all, “no water can swallow the ship where lies the master of ocean and earth and skies.” We talked about the need to have Jesus on our ship, or in other words, having him in our life and part of all we do. Without him in the boat we have no promise, but with him we can be sure that the boat won’t be swamped. We also sang Jesus Savior, Pilot Me, and talked about the need to have him at the helm of our lives.
"Earth's sun in the calm lake is mirrored," a view taken from our boat
Then we read of Peter walking on the water as recorded in Matthew 14. We spoke of his faith, and of the large waves and wind that made him doubt. We gave him credit for wanting to be with the Savior so much, for having faith to walk, and for, even when he was sinking, of having faith to cry out to the Lord for help and still believing Jesus could and would help him. And the Savior did, he reached out immediately, despite Peter’s doubts and faltering, and rescued him and took him back to the boat. Jesus Christ will do this for us as well. Despite the fact that coming to him is a task too big for us, we can with his help. And surely sometimes we will get distracted by the storms of life. But if we believe he can save us, he will. Jesus Christ will not let us sink just because we have doubted and fallen, no matter how many times we may do that. If we cry out to him to save us, he will raise us up and bring us back to the boat.
It was a nice moment. We let everyone have some time to think and write in their journals and read. I was so very pleased with the whole thing, it was a wonderful time for the students and my family.
The Sea of Galilee
The Sea of Galilee is 678 feet below sea level, is ca 160 feet deep, the starting point for our voyage is about N 32*49.516, E 035* 34.252.
When we got to shore we went to see the ancient boat. It is always nice to better picture what the Savior may have been in. Then we drove to the Mt. of Beattitudes. 276 ft below sea level, N 32* 52.858, E 035* 33.360. There a sweet sister named Mary Rose, who is in charge of the place now. She came and spoke to our students about the way Jesus would like us to be as portrayed in the Beattitudes. It was a wonderful, spirit filled discussion. This good Catholic sister taught with the spirit and I believe spoke the words of the Lord, and our students learned and were edified.
Tashara, Sister Mary Rose, and I
Then I had them go through the church and see it and get some pictures. We pointed out the likely spots for the sermon and why it worked well there. We sang, gave some time for reading, then asked a few people to share what they learned from the sermon on the mount. We had some very nice moments there, and then we moved on to Capernaum.
The class where we met together on the Mt. of Beattitudes
It had been so very hot for the students the day before, and they struggled with the heat at Capernaum. This is the most important and profound spot we go to all day, so I rearranged the schedule and went there before it got hotter. We went immediately to the synagogue and read several accounts of what happened there. It is a great place to do it.
The seats inside the synagogue
There we were sitting on the stones of a later synagogue, but it was built on the visible basalt structure that existed in the Savior’s day. It is incredible to realize that you are in the place of so many profound stories. There he cast out devils. He healed a man with a withered hand. He gave great sermons, such as the sermon on the Bread of Life. We read through much of that sermon together, and talked about the symbolism of partaking of Christ. I asked them to picture in their minds the Savior as he taught. Then I had them read the part about the Savior saying he would lose none of those the Father had given him. I wondered aloud with them if when he was saying that he might not be picturing them there in that synagogue trying to picture him.
The white stone of the later synagogue on the black basalt of the synagogue from the Savior's day
Then we went around and looked at likely places for the raising of Jairus’ daughter, for healing the Centurion’s servant, and other great things. We went to the place that very likely is Peter’s house. We talked about the miracles that happened there, such as healing Peter’s mother-in-law, healing various people, and probably healing the man with palsy who was let down through the roof. We talked about how the Savior really had no place of his own, but thanks to Peter this was probably the closest thing he had to a home.
Then we walked through the incredible day in Capernaum that is Matthew chapter 9. By this I mean we started at Peter’s house and walked a bit here and there to see places that may be the areas where some of these things happened. We never really go far, but moving and looking helps to make it seem real. Since the story involves Matthew in a crucial way, I give precedence to his account of these events. In his account it is clear that the man with palsy was healed. From there Jesus went and called Matthew to follow him. He dined with Matthew and was questioned by the Pharisees and disciples of John. As that finished he was called to heal Jairus’ daughter. On the way he healed the woman with the issue of blood. Then he raised Jairus’ daughter from the dead. As that ended he healed two blind men. Then he healed a man who was possessed and dumb. That is one incredible day. But it gives us just a taste of how things were in cities like Capernaum, Bethsaida, and Chorazin, but most especially Capernaum. Here is just a brief idea of the kinds of things that happened there:
The City of Miracles
Healing of Nobleman’s son John 4:46-54
Calling of Andrew, Peter, James and John, miracle of catching fish --Matt. 4:13-22; Luke 5:1-11
Teaching in the synagogue Mark 1:21
Casting out unclean spirit (synagogue) Luke 4:31-37
Healing Peter’s mother-in-law (right after casting out unclean spirit) Matt 8:14-17; Mark 1:29-31
Healing all manner of people (in Peter’s house, right after healing his mother-in-law) Mark 1:32-34
Forgiving and Healing of Paralytic (in Peter’s house?) Mark 2:1-13; Matt. 9
Calling of Matthew Mark 2:14-17; Matt. 9
Eats with publican (Matthew), Pharisees question him Mark 2:16-22; Matt. 9
Eats corn from fields nearby on Sabbath (probably near Capernaum) Mark 2:23-28; Luke 6:1-5
Heals a withered man’s hand (in synagogue) (probably Capernaum) Mark 3:1-6; Luke 6:6-11
Taught by the sea side Mark 3:7-9
Questions on fasting Luke 5:33-39; Matt. 9
Healing of Centurion’s Servant Luke 7:1-10
Raising of Jairus’ daughter (Matthew has it as going from healing palsy to calling Matthew, eating with publicans (Matthew?) to raising daughter, with woman healed along the way). Matt 9:18-26;
Healing of the woman with an issue of blood Mark 5:25-34
Healing two blind men Matt. 9
Casting out devils from a possessed and dumb man Matt. 9
Bread of Life Sermon (synagogue) John 6:22-71
Paying tribute/catching fish with money in its mouth Matthew 17:24-27
Question about who is the greatest among the Apostles Mark 9:33-37
Heading towards Capernaum when Savior walks on water John 6:17-21
? Healing of demonic boy? Mark 9:14-27
?Sending forth of the 12? Matt. 10
I give the students this chart and let them have a little time to go by the sea shore and think about what happened there, and about calling the apostles while at the shores of Capernaum, and to write in their journals, and enjoy the church there. I think everyone had a very nice time. It is a highlight for me every time I go there. I love, just love the city of Capernaum. After all, the scriptures call it Jesus’ own city. Places like this make me feel closer to Jesus and make him even more real. I don’t know how he can become more real to me, he is already ultimately real. Yet each time I go there I can picture it better, I feel closer to him, and it all is just a little more tangible.
Alexia has been building up a rock wall to protect this tree at Capernaum every time she comes for several months now
When we finished there we went over to the Greek Orthodox church of Capernaum. The gardens are beautiful, the place is peaceful. We ate lunch near the shore and read the story of Peter catching the fish with money in its mouth to pay the temple tax, and taught from that. They went inside the church to see the beautiful artwork and to hear the monks chanting as part of a service.
Looking out at the sea from our lunch spot
When we finished there we went to Tabgha, and talked about multiplying the loaves and fishes. It is a sweet place, and I love the mosaics, and I was especially happy to be there with Alexia because she loves that mosaic of the loaves and fishes so much. Somehow that image has just taken her, and I think it is a wonderful thing to be taken with.
Alexia with her favorite mosaic behind her
Then we went to the Church of St. Peter’s Primacy (571 ft below sea level, N 32* 53.035 E 035* 33.344).
We spoke of Peter again wanting so much to be with the Savior. We talked of how he was sent to feed Jesus’ sheep, and that we have the same calling. We had several sweet moments. We sang in the church, dipped our feet in the lake, took a picture, and had a wonderful time. I love seeing my children be so touched by these things.
Kaleb, Bj and I in our matching hats at the Church of St. Peter's Primacy
We took a little detour that Kent Jackson and I had explored and figured out would work well. We stopped at what is called the Bay of Parables. There we sat and talked a little bit about the parables of Matthew 13. Very nice moment.
Class at the Bay of Parables
The Bay of Parables
Finally we went to Bethsaida. 468 ft. below sea level, N 32* 54.710, E 035* 37.838. We walked into the Old Testament portion, where we saw the matsebot (stones meant to represent God but always becomes a form of idolatry). They are next to the gate, a strong gate but a gate that fell when the Assyrians came in. We spent a lot of time talking about how we often worship the things of the world and God at the same time. We compared that to what the Israelites did and talked about how if we do it we will fall just as surely as the Israelites did. But then we spoke of how God is always working with us to bring us back. We spoke of that for a while and had some really great moments. They didn’t know I was basically quoting to them from my book that will come out in about two years. The spirit was strong there, and I felt like it was a powerful and important time.
The gates at Bethsaida
We worked out way through the city, talking about the fishermen who lived in the city and how Peter and Andrew were from there, and wondered if John ever came back to visit. We read the account of the blind man who was healed in stages and likened that to how we are all coming to see the Lord more clearly. We read of how the Lord cursed the city because they didn’t end up listening to him. We likened this to the earlier fall of Israel in that place. There are so many parallels for our life, and I think they got it.
The plains of Bethsaida and the Sea of Galilee looking from the city
All in all, this was one wonderful and powerful field trip.
We swam a little when we got back, and had dinner. I had so many students wanting to ask me so many questions, but I didn’t want it to take away from family time. So I told them they could ask whatever questions they wanted at my place that night at 8:30. A bunch of people showed up (it got larger as time went on because so many of them had to go next door to turn in papers to the Huntingtons, and they saw us and just joined). Several students ended up asking some questions that were obviously fairly important for their personal lives, and we had a great discussion. These are such incredible people.
Moonrise over the mountains behind Ein Gev
The next day classes were wonderful. I love teaching this stuff, and these are such good students. They are so full of light and goodness and soak all this stuff up. When class was over we went out and sat on the sea shore and talked about multiplying the loaves and fishes and applied that to how Jesus makes whatever we are or can do enough. Jesus always makes us enough. It was great. Then we had naps, fun on the beach, and took all the students and the whole family to the Ein Gev fish restaurant.
Eatin' fish, havin' fun
We ate St. Peter’s fish, cooked so well. It was a beautiful night, and we enjoyed being by the seaside. Life is bliss. Kaleb has been reading a ton, we swim, we play games, we learn, we love. Kaleb called it the best vacation ever. He’s a smart kid.
BJ at the restaurant's sea shore
Julianne and Jacob at the dock by the restaurant, which is also where we get on the boat to take our Galilee voyage