A Spin Around the Sea of Galilee: Day 5

Moving on (regarding our trip up north).  After studying the map for a bit we decided to take a spin around the Sea of Galilee. Tiberias is on the south western side of the lake and we decided to make a counterclockwise journey around the lake before heading up to Tsfat. After driving for a while we passed the “Yardenit Baptismal Site” where many claim that Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist. If you know me, I’m not very big into the “place” frenzy here in Jerusalem. What matters to me is that Christ lives and his gospel is real, but Max and I had a particularly moving experience at the baptismal site.

It wasn’t overly crowded like in the summer and we got to see a few smaller groups doing their baptism thing. We saw a group of what looked and sounded like evangelicals (some speaking Portuguese Max pointed out) all dressed in white getting baptized by the water’s edge. Some of them jumped out of the water yelling “hallelujah”, others cried, and still others were emotional but a little embarrassed about being so public (and so underdressed – those white shields do not offer a lot of coverage…).

There was a very small moment taking place just in front of us where a Dad took his teenage girl into the water to baptize her while the mother looked on. Very sweet.

But perhaps my favorite was a small group of three priests of the Greek Orthodox Church who were swimming around in the river just after baptizing a couple. Most of the Greek Orthodox men I’ve seen around the city are very serious, very reserved, and very “hard” looking. In Jerusalem they where they long black robes and black hats and they usually have very long beards and long hair. Their buildings here are very ornate and filled with gold everything – they are usually constructed in caves and crusader constructions, so the spaces are often times dank, dark, and mysterious. But these three priests had their shoes off and were swimming around in the river with such joy. They were talking to each other and splashing a bit. When they got out of the water, black garb soaking wet, they sat around and read a few scriptures, sang a few beautiful songs, and “shot the breeze” as much as someone in their position can. It was the first time I have seen the seriousness and over dramatic decorating I associate with the Greek Orthodox give way to something that looked more like Jesus would have been doing in this spot so many years ago. I still can’t get over the sight of their bare feet, kicking around in the water and then being propped up on the stones around the river’s edge. It donned on me that maybe this more relaxed attitude is a product of being in the Galilee instead of Jerusalem. People are always talking about the tension in Jerusalem, and it doesn’t really bother me, but perhaps it imbues the religious stalwarts of Jerusalem with an added level of intensity.

After we left the baptismal site we made our way around the east side of the lake, stopping once at Ein Gev to make a most un-kosher lunch of turkey and cheese crackers from a very well equipped local market.

We finished off the loop by Seeing Capernaum and Tahgba. Capernaum is what many consider the closest thing to a home Jesus had while in the Galilee. It is the site of Peter’s house and an ancient Synagogue where Jesus most likely taught many of this N.T. sermons. Tagbha is the traditional sight of the multiplication of loaves and fishes. On our way out of town we stopped on the top of the mount of Beattitudes and sent Max’s Augie (who is on a mission) an email.

Synagogue at Capernaum where Jesus may have once taught (well, the ruins underneath this site)

The Church of the Multiplication of Loaves and Fishes at Taghba

But I’ve forgotten the ancient boat! There is a 1st century boat on display in Ginnosar and it is something.  Some refer to it as the Jesus Boat - it's a boat like the one Jesus may have fished on.  Well, I guess the boat itself is just a super old boat held together by a sort of exoskeleton, but the story of how it was found and restored is just amazing to me. You can read all about it here, but my favorite part is when they re-submerged the boat in a lab and then put local fish in the tank to swim around and eat all of the parasites and bacteria that would have destroyed the boat over time. After a good lunch, they took the fish out, drained the tank, and carried on the restoration work. Crazy!

1 comment:

  1. I love your blog!! Its just so cool to read! It seems like things are going well! :-)