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On a Rock and Under a House – Day Three

(The Times photo courtesy of Tim Timmons)
This is the rock on which Jesus said he would build a church. Timmons wasn’t sure what to make of the fish. This statue of Peter stands just feet from where his house once stood.

Shalom from Hermon Mount, the site we know from Matthew where Jesus said, “You are Peter and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.”

That was the highlight for me on this third day in Israel.

We began and ended the day in Tiberias. In between we traveled around the Sea of Galilee – which isn’t really a sea at all. It’s actually a lake that’s about 14 miles long by seven miles wide. It’s been called a sea, according to our tour guide, because of a mistranslation.

We started day three at the site of the Sermon on the Mount of Beatitudes. I hate to be repetitive, but the feeling of walking where Jesus Christ walked is unlike anything I have ever experienced.

Next we stopped at Caesarea Philippi where Peter first declared that “this is the Christ.”

And our day was just starting.

As we drove from site to site, this reporter could not help but notice how every hillside and many flat areas were littered with rocks. Large boulders to small pebbles – and everything in between, they were everywhere. It brought to mind a scene from The Chosen where two of the apostles were clearing a field of rocks. Seeing how many there are in person put that in a whole different perspective.

You also notice how many thorny bushes and trees there are – prompting our guide to remark how easy it was for them to make the crown of thorns.

When you are standing at the bottom of Hermon Mount, the sheer size is almost overwhelming. You are at the bottom of a large rock face – and you understand that at one time this was said to be the gate to Hades, thus the reference from Matthew. Walking up the path to stand where the trail ends and the rock begins makes you wonder – is this the spot Jesus stood when he said those famous words?

We also spent a lot of time today in what you know as Capernaum – but here it is spelled Capharnaum – the city where Jesus chose five apostles – Simon (Peter), Andrew, James, John (all fisherman) and the tax collector Matthew. Capernaum was also the site of Peter’s home – the very site which is still there today. This is the place where the paralytic was lowered through Peter’s roof so Jesus could heal him and the site where He healed Peter’s mother-in-law.

And we stood there. Right there.

We drove to the Golan Heights, passed within 10 miles of the Syrian border and saw Lebanon just one hill away. We drove by old bunkers from the 1967 Six Day War and crossed the River Jordan several times. Turns out that it’s not really a river either. It’s just not that big.

Speaking of water, the day really did wrap around the sea that isn’t a sea. We got into a wooden boat and went for a short ride – asking our guide if the place where Jesus walked on water was known (sadly, he said no) and we ate fish for lunch. I stared at a complete fish, from head to tail, on my plate and noticed he was staring right back at me. But the Israeli owner of the restaurant said God bless the USA, so I respectfully said nothing and ate the fish, tried the dates and had the strongest coffee I ever tasted.

It went along with our theme this week – just roll with it.

Tomorrow – more from Jordan.

Sagamore News Media’s Tim Timmons is on a pilgrimage to Israel and the Holy Land. He will be writing occasionally during the trip. Timmons can be contacted at ttimmons@thetimes24-7.com.