Calves aching, lungs on fire, sweat raining from the forehead, 80 Joshuaites and friends made a treacherous hike up Mount Arbel for our first hike. Although it was painstaking, the flowers dotted along the countryside and the cute cows spurred us along the trail. The intensity of the hike was dulled extensively because the whole time we were walking we couldn’t help but imagine Jesus taking similar footsteps up to the top. About halfway up, we all stopped for a brief but much-needed catching of breath and Rich talked about the history of some caves that were in the side of the mountain. He said that it was basically a fortified city of caves in ancient times and that Herod the Great killed around 4,000 Zealot Jews by smoking them out of their caves and throwing them to their death. After scaling big rocks to finish the hike and get to the top of the mountain, we met as a group for a little talk and Rich explained the geography of what we could see over the side of Mt. Arbel. From there, things got surreal and mysterious. We were given some alone time to reflect on the reality of Israel. (click here to view photos from the day) From the top of Arbel, we could look down onto the old road to Nazareth, where it is almost certain that Jesus would have walked. Even more exciting, was the passage of scripture that we were given to read during our moments of silence, John 17. In John 17, Jesus prays for all believers on a reserved mountain. For many of us, we were so overwhelmed by the fact that Jesus prayed for us individually in the very vicinity of where we were seeking time with him. It’s really hard to put words to the things that were going on in our hearts. Starting off our day hiking Mt. Arbel set our hearts into high spirits for the rest of the day, reminding us of the gravity of the concept that Jesus Christ himself was in exactly the same places that we have been and will be the remainder of our trip.
The next place that we went to was the Mt. of Beatitudes, where Scott from the Well church spoke to us about the beatitudes and their meaning to our lives. From there, we went down the mountain a short ways and sat on medium sized rocks on the shore of Galilee. Jared, also from the Well, talked about John 21 where Jesus after his crucifixion made breakfast for the disciples and challenged Peter to make disciples.
Our final stop for today was Capernaum. There they had an excavated city from the time of Christ. They had a huge and gorgeous synagogue, surrounded by an “insula” or family community and an olive press. Nearby the site, Brad Bell from the well concluded our day by talking about Jesus and his ministry in Capernaum and his calling of disciples and the idea that we are also called children of God.
The very last thing that we did today was spend some time swimming in the Galilee, a short walk from our hotel. The water was cold but it was a great way to relax and process all that we had learned today.
We’re all having a great and safe time, don’t worry!!
Kaysi and Sawyer