DAY 2
Tuesday 24th March
Day 2
We begin our day with devotions, as we sail on the Sea of Galilee. Followed by a visit to the ancient town of Magdala where you will see the synagogue in which we know Jesus preached! At this synagogue, one of the greatest archaeological finds was discovered by accident, the Magdala Stone, while they were preparing to build a retreat centre. We’ll stop for lunch at the Ein Gev fish restaurant, where you will sample their famous speciality, St Peter’s Fish. Next, we’ll enter Kfar Nachum, also known as Capernaum – Yeshua’s headquarters. At Tabgha, we’ll visit the beach where the Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes took place. Later you’ll see the Mount of Beatitudes, the site where Jesus delivered the famous Sermon on the Mount.
Overnight in Tiberius
Sea of Galilee
Sea of Galilee

The Sea of Galilee has changed comparatively little since Jesus walked on its shores and recruited four fishermen as his first disciples.

A picturesque, heart-shaped lake set among hills in northern Israel, it is one of the lowest-lying bodies of water on earth (some 210 metres below sea level).

This freshwater “sea” is 21km long and 13km across at its widest point, with a maximum depth of 43 metres. Its other names include the Sea of Tiberias, the Lake of Gennesaret and (in Hebrew) Lake Chinnereth or Kinneret.

The Jordan River flows into the Sea of Galilee near the ruins of the ancient city of Bethsaida, providing three-quarters of the lake's annual intake. It exits the lake, on its way to the Dead Sea, next to the Yardenit baptism site, at the lake’s far southern tip.

In modern times tourism has become the major local industry. In Jesus’ time it was fishing, with 230 boats regularly working the lake and their catch dried and exported all over the Roman world.

Jesus made the fishing town of Capernaum the centre of his itinerant ministry in Galilee, using the lake, its boats and its shores to spread his Good News. He calmed a storm, he walked on the water and probably even swam in the lake.

Miracles on the Shore
It was around the usually serene waters of the Sea of Galilee that Jesus began his public ministry, teaching in the synagogues and curing the sick. Crowds flocked to him, “for he taught as one having authority, and not as their scribes” (Matthew 7:29).

Perhaps his best-known discourse, the Sermon on the Mount, is believed to have been delivered on the Mount of Beatitudes (also known as Mount Eremos). This small hill is on the lake’s northwestern shore, between Capernaum and Tabgha.

Tabgha is also the traditional site where Jesus fed a crowd of 5000 with five loaves and two fish. Later, across the lake near Kursi, he performed a second miraculous feeding.

The Heptapegon (“Seven Springs”) fishing ground off Tabgha was also the scene of a memorable post-Resurrection appearance.

The apostles had fished all night with empty nets. Just after daybreak Jesus appeared and told them where to find a miraculous catch. When the apostles came ashore, they found the risen Lord had cooked breakfast for them.

In Scripture:

Jesus calls his disciples: Matthew 4:18-22; 9:9; Mark 1:16-20

The miraculous catch of fish: Luke 5:1-11

Jesus calms the storm: Mark 4:35-41; Matthew 8:23-27; Luke 8:22-25

Jesus walks on the water: Matthew 14:22-33; Mark 6:45-52

The Sermon on the Mount: Matthew 5:1-7:28

The Parable of the Sower: Mark 4:1-9

The feedings of the crowds: Matthew 14:13-21; 15:32-39; Mark 6:30-44; 8:1-9; Luke 9:10-17; John 6:1-14

Paying the Temple tax: Matthew 17:24-27

Magdala
Magdala

Archaeological Site in Northwestern Shore

Magdala was a major first-century port on the Sea of Galilee, a centre of trade and commerce, and an exporter of salted fish to markets as far away as Europe. Archaeological discoveries early in the 21st century have made it a pilgrimage destination. When work began on building a spiritual retreat in 2009, builders were astonished to discover a synagogue from the 1st century CE, dated to the time of Jesus by a local coin minted in 29 CE. Situated 6km north of Tiberias on the site of the ancient town of Magdala (Migdal in Hebrew), home of Mary Magdalene.

Inside the synagogue, archaeologists found the Magdala Stone, a rectangular altar – discovered facing south towards Jerusalem – decorated with a seven-branched menorah that is unique because it was carved when the Temple in Jerusalem was still standing. The altar may have been used to read the Torah.

Magdala is mentioned only once in the New Testament. The Gospel of Matthew (15:39) says Jesus went there by boat. Both Matthew and Mark say Jesus preached in synagogues “throughout Galilee”, and Magdala was only 10 kilometres from Capernaum, where he based his ministry.

All four Gospels refer to a close follower of Jesus called Mary Magdalene. Luke says she had been cured of “seven demons” and he lists her first among the women who accompanied Jesus and supported his ministry from their own resources (8:2-3).

After Jesus died she was one of the women who took spices for anointing to the tomb. They found the tomb empty, but “two men in dazzling clothes” gave them the news that Jesus had risen. (Luke 24:1-12)

Later Jesus appeared to Mary. At first she thought he was the gardener, but she recognised him when he spoke her name. Then she announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”. (John 20:1-18)


In Scripture:

Jesus visits Magdala by boat: Matthew 15:39

Mary cured of seven demons: Luke 8:2

Mary supports Jesus’ ministry: Luke 8:3

Mary goes to Jesus’ tomb: Matthew 28:1-10; Mark 16:1-8; Luke 24:1-12; John 20:1-18

Mary announces the Resurrection to the disciples: John 20:18

Ein Gev
Kibbutz Ein Gen

Kibbutz Ein Gev, located on the eastern shores of the Sea of Galilee, is one of the largest kibbutz in Israel.

Ein Gev was established, like many of the kibbutzim around the Sea of Galilee, in the mid 1930’s as a tower and stockade settlement, with the threat of attack from the surrounding area strong. Today, the kibbutz has a large agricultural and tourism industry.

Capernaum
Capernaum

Archaeological Site in Northwestern Shore
The New Testament says that the prosperous lakeside village of Capernaum (estimated population 1500), on the imperial highway from Tiberias to Damascus, was Jesus’s base during the most influential period of his Galilean ministry (Matthew 4:13, Mark 2:1, John 6:59). It is mentioned by name 16 times: this is where Jesus is believed to have preached at the synagogue (Mark 1:21), healed the sick and recruited his first disciples, fishers Peter, Andrew, James and John and Matthew the tax collector.

In Capernaum:

  • Jesus worshipped and taught in the synagogue — where his teaching made a deep impression on the local people because, unlike the scribes, he taught with authority. (Mark 1:21-22)
  • In the same synagogue, Jesus promised the Eucharist in his “I am the bread of life” discourse: “Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.” (John 6:22-59)
  • Jesus and healed many people of illness or possession by the devil, including Peter’s mother-in-law and the daughter of Jairus, the leader of the synagogue.
  • Jesus pronounced a curse on the town, along with Bethsaida and Chorazin, because so many of its inhabitants refused to believe in him.

Capernaum’s renowned synagogue, whose facade faces south towards Jerusalem, consists of two superimposed structures. The reconstructed building that can be seen today, known as the ‘White Synagogue’ because it’s made of light-coloured limestone, was built in the late 4th century atop the dark basalt foundations of the ‘Synagogue of Jesus’. Excavations show that one room in this interlinked complex had been singled out since the middle of the 1st century. Graffiti scratched on its plaster walls referred to Jesus as Lord and Christ (in Greek). It is suggested that this room was venerated for religious gatherings as a house church. If so, it would have been the first such example in the Christian world.

On the other side of the tree-shaded benches from the synagogue, 10m to the right of the olive press, a menorah decorates the upper lip of a column. A nearby column bears a 5th-century inscription in Hebrew commemorating a donation made by someone named Alpheus, son of Zebidah.

A modern, glass-walled church (1991; now air-conditioned), used for frequent Masses in dozens of languages (ask the officiating priest if you'd like to join), is dramatically suspended over the ruins of an octagonal, 5th-century church that partly obscures St Peter’s House, where Jesus is believed to have stayed.

Near the entrance to the site, there's a row of impressive stone lintels decorated with fruit and plant motifs but, in accordance with the Third Commandment (Exodus 20:4), no images of people or animals.

Capernaum is 16km northeast of Tiberias and 3km northeast of Tabgha.

In Scripture:

Jesus makes his home in Capernaum: Matthew 4:12-17

Jesus teaches in the synagogue: Mark 1:21-28

Jesus cures Peter’s mother-in-law: Mark 1:29-31

Paying the temple tax: Matthew 17:24-27

Jesus calls Matthew: Matthew 9:9-12

Jesus condemns Capernaum: Matthew 11:20-24

Jesus heals a centurion’s servant: Luke 7:1-10

Jesus cures a paralysed man: Mark 2:1-12

“I am the bread of life”: John 6:22-59

Tabgha
Tabgha

Tranquil Tabgha, on the north-western shore of the Sea of Galilee, is best known for Christ’s miraculous multiplication of loaves and fish to feed a multitude.

But it is also remembered for Jesus’ third appearance to his disciples after his Resurrection, when he tested and commissioned St Peter as leader of his Church.

Two churches commemorate these events, and pilgrims find the place a serene location for meditation, prayer and study.

Tabgha is at the foot of the Mount of Beatitudes, about 3km south-west of Capernaum. The name is an Arab mispronunciation of the Greek Heptapegon (meaning “seven springs”). Several warm sulphurous springs enter the lake here, attracting fish especially in winter.

This was a favourite spot for fishermen from nearby Capernaum, and its beach was familiar to Jesus and his disciples. It is easy to imagine Jesus speaking from a boat in one of the little bays, with crowds sitting around on the shore.

The modern Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes at Tabgha stands on the site of a 4th-century church, displaying Byzantine mosaic decorations that are among the most elegantly executed in the Holy Land.

The whole floor depicts flora and fauna of the area in vibrant colours — peacocks, cranes, cormorants, herons, doves, geese, ducks, a flamingo and a swan, as well as snakes, lotus flowers and oleanders.

But the best-known mosaic, on the floor near the altar, refers to the miracle the church commemorates. It shows a basket of loaves flanked by two Galilee mullet.

Beneath the altar is the rock on which it is believed Jesus placed the loaves and fish when he blessed them.

Jesus Cooked Breakfast
Nearby, on the Tabgha beach, stands the Church of the Primacy of St Peter. This squat building of black basalt, built in 1934, is where Jesus is believed to have made his third appearance to his disciples after his Resurrection.

As the event is described in the 21st chapter of St John, Peter and six other disciples had been fishing all night without catching anything. Just after daybreak Jesus stood on the beach, though they did not recognise him.

Jesus told the disciples to cast their net on the right side of the boat and the net filled with 153 fish. When the disciples dragged the net ashore, they found that Jesus had cooked them breakfast on a charcoal fire.

The rock incorporated in the church floor is traditionally believed to be the place where Jesus prepared breakfast. It was known to medieval pilgrims as Mensa Christ (the table of Christ).

Peter was Challenged Three Times
After breakfast, Jesus challenged Peter three times with the question: “Do you love me?” Peter’s positive response to this three-fold challenge cancelled out his three-fold denial of Jesus the night before his crucifixion.

Then Jesus gave Peter a three-fold commission: “Feed my lambs . . . . Tend my sheep . . . Feed my sheep.” And he also indicated that Peter would die by martyrdom.

After this event Peter’s primacy as head of the apostles was recognised.

Beside the church, in a garden setting, is an area designed for group worship. Between this and the lake stands a modern bronze statue of Jesus symbolically commissioning Peter with his shepherd’s crook.

In Scripture:

Miraculous feeding of 5000: Matthew 14: 13-21; Mark 6:30-44; Luke 9:10-17; John 6:1-14

Jesus commissions Peter: John 21: 1-19

Mt of Beatitudes
Mount of Beatitudes

Since at least the 4th century, this landscaped hillside is believed to be where Jesus delivered his Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5–7), whose opening lines – the eight Beatitudes – begin with the phrase ‘Blessed are…’. The sermon also includes the Lord’s Prayer and oft-quoted phrases such as ‘salt of the earth’, ‘light of the world’ and ‘judge not, lest ye be judged’.

 The Mount of Beatitudes  is one of the most beautifully serene places in the Holy Land. Overlooking the northwestern shore of the Sea of Galilee, it offers an enchanting vista of the northern part of the lake and across to the cliffs of the Golan Heights on the other side. Within sight are the scenes of many of the events of Jesus’ ministry in Galilee, including the town of Capernaum 3km away, where he made his home. Just below is Sower’s Cove, where it is believed Jesus taught the Parable of the Sower (Mark 4:1-9) from a boat moored in the bay.

The Mount of Beatitudes is also understood to be the place where Jesus met his apostles after his Resurrection and commissioned them to “make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:16-20).

Eight Sides for Eight Beatitudes
The Church of the Beatitudes, an elegant octagonal building with colonnaded cloisters, blends into the slope rather than dominating it. The eight sides of the light and airy church represent the eight beatitudes, and these are also shown in Latin in the upper windows. The centrally placed altar is surmounted by a slender arch of alabaster and onyx. Around it, the seven virtues (justice, charity, prudence, faith, fortitude, hope and temperance) are depicted by symbols in the mosaic floor.

In Scripture:

The Sermon on the Mount: Matthew 5:1-7:28

The parable of the sower: Mark 4:1-9

Jesus commissions the disciples: Matthew 28:16-20

Sea of Galilee - Boat Ride

Magdala
Tabgha - Fish and Loaves

Ein Gev - Lunch

Capernaum

Mount of Beatitudes
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