The Northern Frontier – Mt Hermon, Caesarea Philippi, Golan Heights and Baptism in the Jordan River.
[box type=”info”] Before I begin today’s post I have to explain something. I received comments after the last post saying that the commenter hoped I was enjoying the trip and was looking ahead to what I would be discovering on the following day. This happened because I am taking the approach of documentary or journaling a trip that was ACTUALLY taken in 2007. I tried to explain this approach at the beginning of the series but not everybody saw that post. So, bear with me as I continue the daily journal of a 2007 trip.[/box]
The Northern Frontier
This is the Fourth Full Day of our trip, Saturday May 19, 2007 and the second day traveling outside Jerusalem. Yesterday we were south and west of Jerusalem and today we travel to the northernmost parts of the country within sight of the border with Lebanon on the north and nearly within sight of Syria to the east of us.
More specifically, we will explore the “high places” of worship of false gods at Mount Hermon, see the origin of the Jordan River there, and visit a Jewish “settlement” (almost a small town) in the disputed Golan Heights territory. Then on to Caesarea Philippi (where Peter identified Jesus as “the Christ, the Son of God”) and to the Mount of Beatitudes and finally get baptized in the Jordan River.
I hope to be able to convey how fascinating the day was for us.
Mount Hermon and the “High Places”.
I’m going to insert a photo gallery here to enable you to see what we saw, at your own speed, and even to read the explanatory plaques we read. It was fascinating and appalling to think of the rituals that were performed here by priests and common people searching for the right god or gods when the one true God was with them all the time! Click on any image to enlarge it.
Our next stop is the adjacent village of Caesarea Philippi ruins.
There wasn’t much to see but the site has significance for Christians because it was here that Jesus asked his disciples:
“Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”
They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.”
“But what about you?” he asked.
“Who do you say I am?”
Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Matt 16: 13-16 NIV
The Mount of the Beatitudes
This is what the place looks like today. It is maintained by a Roman Catholic Franciscan Order. In the 1930’s the Church of the Beatitudes was constructed over the site where it is believed that Jesus multiplied the loaves and fishes to feed the crowds.
We were very deeply moved by the reflection of what it would have been like to be one of the listeners of Jesus’ long and deeply significant statement of the real essence of the will of God for His people as opposed to the traditions of man that were corrupt and ungodly in much of their focus and implementation during Jesus’ time.
Capernaum – Peter’s Home and Frequent Area of Jesus’ Ministry
The town of Capernaum was the home town of Peter.
There is a small museum dedicated to him and the memorabilia of his time that is actually built over the ruins of Peter’s family home.
All of these ruins are very near the shore of the Sea of Galilee. We could almost “see” Jesus calling out “Come with me and I will make you fishers of men.
We walked around on the stone floors of the temple in places that Jesus probably taught and disputed with temple rulers.
Nearby is a park-like setting and large statue of Peter. Many of our group posed for pictures in front of Peter.
Baptism in the Jordan River
One of the top attractions in a Christian tour of Israel is the opportunity to be baptized in the Jordan River as Jesus was by John the Baptist at the beginning of His public ministry.
There are two sites that scholars have identified as the likely place of Jesus’ baptism neither of which is the Yardenit site which was opened as a safe place for pilgrims to be baptized.
Regardless of how close or far from the actual site of Jesus’ baptism we were, this was an intensely moving experience.
Some in our group had not been baptized previously. For others it was a renewal.
In such close proximity to all we were experiencing about the places and events of Jesus’ ministry, it was about as close to being there when John actually baptized Jesus as we could imagine.
And so our day comes to a close. We are tired but even more connected to the biblical narrative we have read over the years.
“They” say a picture is worth a thousand words and we agree and would add that there’s no substitute for being there in person.
Here are the links to prior posts in this series.
Be sure to read them all.
And there’s more to come so stay tuned!
Earlier Posts Include: