My Friday began at 5:45 am Israel time on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee where I was reminded that our Lord — right here, at this very time of day — told the weary fishermen to put out into deep water and then provided more fish than they could handle and then followed that sign of his divine provision with a call to follow him. I was reminded this morning that he, too, has called me. He provides for me and takes care of everything for me while I do my best to answer his call and follow him. I was reminded that in John 15, when Jesus is sending his disciples out to turn the world upside down, to change everything in the name of his eternal Kingdom, he tells them, “Remember, you didn’t choose me; I chose you!”
He chose me. He chose you. He believes in you. And me. And he gives us the power to follow him.
We followed Jesus all over the Galilee and northern Israel regions today. And, like yesterday, this post is mainly intended for the display of a few pictures.
At Chorazin this morning, our guide Anton showed us several locusts trees and claimed that John the Baptist was renowned for eating the seed-heavy fruit from this tree, not the large menacing grasshoppers we’ve always imagined. I’m not sure I agree with him on that. But I do know a lot of us spent that hour in the ruins of the site picking and eating those little berries. Not much taste, mostly seed. I think grasshoppers would have provided the prophet with more protein. Plus, it’s more fun to believe he ate grasshoppers.
Almost as much fun as watching Steve and Elaine and others take down St. Peter’s fish at lunch today — head and all! Elaine went so far as to scrape out the inside of the poor fish’s head and eat every last bit of it, including the eyeballs! Sorry, not me. I went for the filet and French fries.
Our favorite site was probably the “rock” at Caesarea Philippi, where Peter confessed Jesus as the Christ. Anton and I both explained as best we could, without going into too much detail about the goats, the evil nature of what was going on in this center of pagan religious ritual at the time of Jesus and his apostles. When he said, “Upon this rock I will build my Church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it,” he was talking about all the evil in that place — all the evil in the world, I suppose, that men and women are capable of — and that through his disciples, he would conquer and destroy all of it. Powerful. What an impressive site that brings all new meaning and appreciation to this pivotal point in the ministry and mission of our Lord.
Sabbath began at sundown today and the hotel dining room prepared a very special white tablecloth dinner for all of us this evening. After the delicious meal, we twenty gathered in a downstairs conference room for about an hour to process the past two days, to reflect on what we’re experiencing, and to discern how God is acting to shape us and transform us through these experiences. And then we prayed together for peace. We thanked God for the opportunity to be here, for the salvation we enjoy in our Lord Jesus, and for one another. And then we prayed for his promised peace: shalom for the land, for the people of this troubled region, for all the men and women and children who grow up and live in the uncertainty and turmoil of this place.