Well, we’ve finally reached the last leg of our journey: the Sea of Galilee. It’s bittersweet, because though we miss our little apartment back in Dallas, we’ve also loved every part of Israel and hate to leave. But, still, it’ll be nice to trade in our hummus for some bbq sauce.
The Sea of Galilee is, surprisingly, exactly as I expected it to be. It is calm, warm and inviting whenever the sun is shining brightly above it. Then chaotic, windy and with crashing waves as soon as the sun goes to sleep. I read the story in Mark 4 today that talks about Jesus calming the storm in the evening as the disciples panicked in the boat. It made so much more sense as I swung back and forth in a hammock above the waves.
Around the sea we stopped in Capernaum, Hippos, Bethsaida, and Chorazin. These cities were pretty similar to one another, considering they were all abandoned with just a few stone houses and synagogues left to show where they once stood. Capernaum was one of the coolest though, since it was basically the headquarters of Jesus in its prime. There we were able to look out onto the water where the the first three disciples Peter, John and James were called. There was also a synagogue made of volcanic rock called basalt that Jesus would have definitely preached in, and the remains of what was most likely Peter’s house.
Peter’s house was interesting because it was circular shaped and seemed very small. With one main room, I couldn’t help but cringe at the thought of being in there when it was packed out the door with people grasping for a miracle. Additionally, the house was made of rock, but the roof would have been made of mud and hay. In fact, grass would often grow on their roofs way back then because of the soil, and so they would sometimes have to trim their own roofs!
Some might think it strange that the places Jesus spent most of his time ministering to would be so desolate and abandoned two thousand years later. However, Jesus actually curses these towns during his ministry, so it makes sense that they only stand today as replicas of ancient times. In Matthew 11:20 it is written, “Then He proceeded to denounce the towns where most of His miracles were done, because they did not repent.” His miracles alone couldn’t save a single town, because they were not prepared for the Son of God.
It all goes to show that faith is very complicated. Just witnessing a miracle (or multiple miracles) couldn’t even save those who had Jesus standing right in front of them. Jesus gave a blind man sight and a lame man his legs to walk on, but it wasn’t enough. If a man says “Your sins are forgiven,” that may be easy to disbelieve. But if a man says “Pick up your mat and walk” to a crippled man who then leaves the room on his own two feet, then you know you’ve witnessed an undeniable miracle. And still, it wasn’t enough to save these cities.
Faith is a matter of the heart, it seems. Not just the eyes or the ears, but the perceiving and the understanding. It is a much deeper concept than we could ever comprehend, and yet that’s what makes it faith.