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Walking like Jesus (Road through Galilee)

roman_road (NOTE: This is the third in a series of posts on "Walking like Jesus". In previous posts, I discussed the locations of the Southern Steps of the Temple Mount and the Shores of the Sea of Galilee.)

Luke tells us:

And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.” And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” And all spoke well of him and marveled at the gracious words that were coming from his mouth. And they said, “Is not this Joseph's son?” And he said to them, “Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, ‘Physician, heal yourself.’ What we have heard you did at Capernaum, do here in your hometown as well.” And he said, “Truly, I say to you, no prophet is acceptable in his hometown. But in truth, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heavens were shut up three years and six months, and a great famine came over all the land, and Elijah was sent to none of them but only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.” When they heard these things, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath. And they rose up and drove him out of the town and brought him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they could throw him down the cliff. But passing through their midst, he went away. And he went down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee. - Luke 4:16-31

The picture at the top of this post is of the remains of a road built by the Romans in the first century. The Romans were known for many things. One of which was their impressive system of roads. Many of their roads ran through this area of the world. This road runs between lower Galilee and the lake.

Jesus walked here.

What lesson can we learn about Jesus walking here? We can learn that we should not let spiritual discouragement get you down.

Jesus had just visited his hometown, the town that he grew up in. He entered the synagogue and spoke the truth. As a result, the people rebuked Him and threatened to kill Him. These people were His friends and His neighbors. Surely, this would have been very discouraging to Jesus. But He did not let it get Him down. He left Nazareth and went to Capernaum to continue the work that His Father had given Him to do.

Being a Christian is not always easy. Many things that happen that can cause us to be discouraged. Sometimes even other Christians can get us down. How do you handle those type of situations? It is easy to just throw up your arms and say, "Forget it...I am not doing this any more!" But that is not the right response. We need to be willing to put those times behind us and keep focused on what we need to do for God.

Do you want to walk like Jesus? Then walk down this road in Galilee and do not let spiritual discouragement get you down.

All The Way Across The Land

All The Way Across The Land


This morning our group was met with a beautiful sunrise from the coastal city of Netanya. After breakfast, we drove up the coast to visit the ancient city of Caesarea. It is interesting to note that The apostle Peter took a very similar path to this while he was on his way to speak with Cornelius about the Gospel. Leaving the Coastal Plain, we drove up into the Carmel Mountain Range to visit the traditional site of Elijah"s contest against the prophets of Baal. By standing there on that ridge, you can visualize Elijah leading the prophets of Baal down to the Kishon Brook go their demise.

imageThe view across the Jezreel Valley from amazing from Meggido. Standing on the summit of the city, you can easily learn why this city has been so important through the centuries.

Our final stop of the day was at Nazareth village. This replica city shows what life would have been like in the first century.

Our group has arrive in Tiberias on the edge of the Sea of Galilee. It was a great day. Looking forward to our adventures tomorrow.

One Year Ago - From Sea to Sea

NOTE: I am continuing my series of retrospective posts on the our tour from one year ago. I invite you to start at the beginning and read through all of them. After getting a good night's rest and leaving Netanya, we arrived at Caesarea Maritima. Simply referred to as Caesarea in the New Testament, this city played a prominent role in the book of Acts. The Gospel was first shared with the Gentiles in Caesarea. And Paul passed through this city many times as he traveled.

Rising up from the coast, we arrived at the top of the Mount Carmel ridge. This location offered us our first view of the Jezreel Valley. From this location, we considered the contest between Elijah and the prophets of Ba'al.

Our next stop was at Megiddo. This ancient city has been destroyed and rebuilt more than 20 times. Its location overlooking the Jezreel Valley made it strategically important and explains why it was conquered so many times.

At Nazareth, we visited a reconstructed first century village. This stop allows you to get a good feel for life during the time of Jesus.

Our day ended with our arrival at the Sea of Galilee. Watching the changing colors across the sea as the sun set was a great way to end our day.

Tomorrow: Exploring Northern Galilee and the Hula Valley.

2015 Israel Poster B

Have you been enjoying these posts on last year's tour? Are you interested in traveling with me this year? Then, I would love to have you join me. Our 12-day tour is scheduled for October 12-23. We will stay one night on the Mediterranean Sea, three nights on the shores of the Sea of Galilee and five nights in beautiful Jerusalem. During the day, we will visit dozens of sites that will enhance your understanding of the land and of the Biblical stories that take place in them. Reservations are coming in, but we still have some availability! This is a first-class tour with many extras thrown in that many Israel tours overlook. If you are interested, I encourage you to read the itinerary and contact me personally for more details.


Nazareth_ChurchoftheAnnunciation_2 Just as in the days of Christ, Nazareth is still a small city tucked away behind the mountains lining the Jezreel.  While the Basilica of the Annunciation pictured here is magnificent, of greater import are the remains of First Century dwellings beneath the local convents, which provide an insight into the community in which Jesus grew up.

Shepherd and his Sheep

DSCN0230 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever. - Psalm 23

Nazareth in Galilee

DSCN0183 Jesus grew up in a very small town in the hills of Galilee named Nazareth. From Nazareth, you could have looked south across the beautiful Jezreel Valley and watch groups of people travel along the Via Maris. Today, the city of Nazareth is much larger but still has a wonderful view and is great place to live.

Synagogue in Nazareth

DSCN0243As Jesus began His ministry, He went to his hometown of Nazareth and taught in the synagogue. His message was not received as He had hoped and went and taught at other places. In the modern city of Nazareth, a group of people have constructed a small village that has the "look and feel" of the First Century. This picture was made of the reconstructed synagogue. The synagogues that the early disciples met in were probably very similar to this.

Mount Precipice

Mount Precipice


As you travel around the lands of the Bible, you are immediately swept up in the thought of being in the actual places where the events took place. However, it is important to keep things in perspective. We know where places like the Sea of Galilee, the Jezreel Valley, Jerusalem and Megiddo are located. However, sometimes other places are not so evident, even though some claim that they are. Many people believe that the Transfiguration of Jesus took place on Mount Tabor. To that end, the Roman Catholic Franciscans have constructed the Church of the Transfiguration on top of the mountain. The Eastern Orthodox also have a monastery on the summit. It is possible that the transfiguration happened there, but we do not know for sure because the Bible does not tell us. (Personally, I tend to think that the transfiguration occurred on or around Mount Hermon in northern Israel.)

Earlier today, Todd Bolen released a post informing us of a movement to construct a large statue of Jesus on Mount Precipice near Nazareth. The mount is called "Mount Precipice" because it is the traditional location of where the people of Nazareth tried to throw Jesus off of the cliff. However, Todd makes an interesting point in his blog:

The traditional hill is not the place where Jesus was nearly killed, for ancient Nazareth was not built on this hill.

And, in this, Todd is correct. Look at the passage from Luke 4 describing the event:

So all those in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath, and rose up and thrust Him out of the city; and they led Him to the brow of the hill on which their city was built, that they might throw Him down over the cliff. - Luke 4:28-29

The hill that we call Mount Precipice is not the hill on which the ancient city was built.

Traveling to Israel is a wonderful experience. It opens up words in passages that you have read a thousand times. But, you must be objective in what you see and hear. Take what you learn and compare it to what God's Word says.

The picture at the top of this post is of Mount Precipice. The picture was taken from Megiddo looking north across the Jezreel Valley. You can see Highway 60 as it cuts into the mountain and climbs toward Nazareth in the hills of Lower Galilee. (NOTE: If you are reading this post in an email, you will need to click on the title and view the post on a web page to see the picture.)

The Importance of Jezreel

The Importance of Jezreel


Even a casual reading of the period of the Divided Kingdom in the Old Testament reveals the importance of a particular city in the Northern Kingdom...Jezreel. The city of Jezreel is located on a small bluff on the western edge of Mount Gilboa. The city overlooks the beautiful Jezreel Valley to its north. The panoramic view stretches from Mount Carmel to the west, across the Nazareth ridge to the north, past Mount Tabor and the Hill of Moreh to the Harod Valley in the east. It is one of my favorite sites in Israel as you can visualize so many Biblical stories taking place within its view. This morning, I read an interesting article by Norma Franklin from the University of Haifa. She talks about the importance of the city of Jezreel throughout history, but in particular, the period of the Divided Kingdom. I invite you to read it.

Want to see Jezreel? I'll be going over there next June, and I'm leading a tour. I would be honored for you to join me on this exciting trip as we study the Bible while traveling through Israel.

The Good Shepherd

The Good Shepherd


A shepherd watches over his flock near Nazareth.Everytime I see this photograph, I think of the words of Jesus from John 10:

“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” Jesus used this illustration, but they did not understand the things which He spoke to them. Then Jesus said to them again, “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep. I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd.

Ironically, I took this picture near the town of Nazareth, the same city where Jesus spent most of his childhood. It seems appropriate.

The Sower

A sower sowing his seed near Nazareth. Then He spoke many things to them in parables, saying: “Behold, a sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds came and devoured them. Some fell on stony places, where they did not have much earth; and they immediately sprang up because they had no depth of earth. But when the sun was up they were scorched, and because they had no root they withered away. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked them. But others fell on good ground and yielded a crop: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” - Matthew 13:3-9

For all of you who said such kind things to my family over the last few days, thank you.

From Nazareth to Capernaum

View of the Arbel Pass from the Sea of Galilee.  In Matthew 4, there is a seemingly uninteresting sentence about Jesus. It states:

Now when Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, He departed to Galilee. And leaving Nazareth, He came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is by the sea, in the regions of Zebulun and Naphtali. - Matthew 4:12-13

Jesus went to Nazareth (his hometown) and then decides to go to Capernaum. There are a couple of different ways that He could have travelled, but there is one way in particular which is the most direct. Nazareth is about 325 meters (1400 feet) in elevation and sits on the northern ridge of the Jezreel Valley. Capernaum, on the other hand, sits on the shore of the Sea of Galilee at an elevation of 212 meters (700 feet) below sea level. In the 30 kilometers between the two cities, the road drops nearly 550 meters (2100 feet) as it descends to the sea.

The path goes through the Turan Valley and then arrives at the Sea of Galilee through the valley seen in the picture above. The ridge on the left is Mount Arbel, which towers to 181 meters (~550 feet) in elevation, or about 380 meters (~1100 feet) above the surface of the sea.

Once the path reaches the shores of the Sea of Galilee, it is met by the town of Magdala. When Jesus arrived at Magdala, he would have turned north and walked another 10 kilometers (~6 miles) to Capernaum.

Knowing a little bit about geography of the Bible lands can help even the uninteresting verses become, well, interesting.

New Years Resolutions

Reconstructed synagoge at Nazareth Village.What are you planning on doing better this new year? How about taking more time to read the Bible? Near the modern city of Nazareth, a first century synagogue has been reconstructed. I have provided a picture of the inside of this structure with this post. Seeing buildings like this help us to better understand the passages when we read them.

When given the opportunity, Jesus took the time to read the scriptures. In Luke 4, we find an account when Jesus entered a synagogue in Nazareth and read from the prophet Isaiah.

So He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read. And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” Then He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him. And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

Look at the attached picture and try to imagine Jesus standing there with all of the people sitting around listening to him. It makes the passage from Luke 4 seem a little more real doesn't it?

Let me encourage you this year to strive to understand the scriptures more. I'll do my best to help you with that by providing information on many of the places in the Bible. Working together, we can encourage each other.

Sowing the Seed

A sower sowing his seed near Nazareth.

Good speakers find ways of relating their message to their audience. Jesus understood this fact. That is what made him a good speaker. Consequently, he often used parables.

On the same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the sea. And great multitudes were gathered together to Him, so that He got into a boat and sat; and the whole multitude stood on the shore. Then He spoke many things to them in parables, saying: Behold, a sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds came and devoured them. Some fell on stony places, where they did not have much earth; and they immediately sprang up because they had no depth of earth. But when the sun was up they were scorched, and because they had no root they withered away. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked them. But others fell on good ground and yielded a crop: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. - Matthew 13:1-8

I took the attached picture last September while I was in Nazareth. Just like in Biblical times, agriculture is still used throughout the country. That is why we can understand Jesus' message. He is encouraging us to sow the seed. Just like in the parable, it is not always going to fall on good ground. But we must continue to sow.

How much seed did you sow in 2012? Do you need to sow more in 2013? Remember, the more you sow, the greater chance some will fall on good ground.

2012 Israel Trip - Day Three

2012 Israel Trip - Day Three


Well, our first full day in Israel was a complete success. We left Netanya at 8:00AM and drove north toward Caesarea Maritima. Caesarea was a very large and important city in the first century. Among other things, it is the home of Cornelius. Cornelius was a just man and after seeing a vision, asked his men to go to Joppa and look for Peter. Having landed yesterday in Tel Aviv (which is adjacent to Joppa), we have traveled the same route that those men took so long ago. The ruins at Caesarea Maritima are impressive. You can see the theater, the location of Herod's palace, the hippodrome as well as many other sites. It enables you to get a great perspective of this city and makes you appreciate the Scriptures even more. As you know, Paul was imprisoned in Herod's palace for a period of two years awaiting trial. From the excavations, we know that the palace was immediately adjacent to the hippodrome. So, imagine Paul sitting in his room listening to the cheers of thousands of people as they enjoyed the activities in the hippodrome, knowing that he could not go out and watch. That is something that isn't mentioned in scripture, but becomes evident when you see the city for yourself. From Caesarea Maritima, we went up into the Carmel Mountain Range and visited the traditional site of the contest between Elijah and the prophets of Baal. Again, the geographical references mentioned in Scripture come to light when you visit the site. From the top, you can see the area where all of the Israelite people would have watched. You can see the Kishon Brook in the valley below where the prophets were killed. And, you can see the Mediterranean Sea where the young man with Elijah reported seeing the small cloud which eventually developed into a large rainstorm.

We continued on to Megiddo, which has ruins dating back several thousand years. We walked through the gate which was constructed during the reign of Solomon. And, we walked down the deep tunnel that was constructed by King Ahab to securely get water into the city. From the tel of Megiddo, you have an unforgettable view of the Jezreel Valley, where many famous battles have been fought over the millennia. You can clearly see why the city of Megiddo was so important during ancient times.

We ended our day by driving through Nazareth (where Jesus grew up), Cana (where Jesus performed his first miracle) and saw the tel of Gath-hepher (the birthplace of Jonah). We finally arrived in the city of Tiberias on the shore of the Sea of Galilee.

Tomorrow starts off with a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee. The same sea where Peter, Andrew, James and John used to fish. And the same sea that Jesus calmed during a terrible storm. What a great way to start the day.

For those of you who are interested in following other blogs from people on this same trip, here are the links to their blogs: