For me as Christian, visiting the Holy Land was a “bucket list” wish – to walk where Jesus walked. I wanted to see the places I had heard about in Sunday school as a child and read about over many years. Somehow the reality of the topography, richness of the culture and land had been lost on me all these years. Over this summer I will be sharing a six-part series on several of the places that came alive, “off the page” so to speak, during my recent trip.
Bethsaida is part of what is called the “Evangelical Triangle” with Capernaum and Chorazin. Jesus warned the cities of their unrepentant hearts because He did most of His miracles in this area north of the Sea of Galilee. (see Matt.11:20-24) It was a fishing village and home to the apostles Philip, Andrew and Peter.
Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand
10 On their return the apostles told him all that they had done. And he took them and withdrew apart to a town called Bethsaida. 11 When the crowds learned it, they followed him, and he welcomed them and spoke to them of the kingdom of God and cured those who had need of healing. 12 Now the day began to wear away, and the twelve came and said to him, “Send the crowd away to go into the surrounding villages and countryside to find lodging and get provisions, for we are here in a desolate place.”13 But he said to them, “You give them something to eat.” They said, “We have no more than five loaves and two fish—unless we are to go and buy food for all these people.” 14 For there were about five thousand men. And he said to his disciples, “Have them sit down in groups of about fifty each.” 15 And they did so, and had them all sit down. 16 And taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and said a blessing over them. Then he broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd. 17 And they all ate and were satisfied. And what was left over was picked up, twelve baskets of broken pieces. Luke 9:10-17 (ESV)
The Sea of Galilee lies in the depression of the Jordan Valley – approximately 686 feet below sea level. This explains a lot of the terminology of “going up” and “going down”. Many times Jesus would have stood down the mountainside preaching upwards, as the landscape made a natural amphitheater.
Jesus Heals a Blind Man at Bethsaida
22 And they came to Bethsaida. And some people brought to him a blind man and begged him to touch him. 23 And he took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village, and when he had spit on his eyes and laid his hands on him, he asked him, “Do you see anything?” 24 And he looked up and said, “I see men, but they look like trees, walking.” 25 Then Jesus laid his hands on his eyes again; and he opened his eyes, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. Mark 8:22-25 (ESV)
Standing on actual stones that Jesus would have stepped on whisked me back in time. The road was not wide between houses and other buildings. If people laid their loved ones in the road, Jesus could not pass by without stepping on them! Instead, He lovingly bent down and healed each one.
The people of the village of Bethsaida had witnessed many miracles. They were fed from a boy’s tiny lunch. They witnessed the healing of a blind man and many others yet their hearts were cold. They wanted full stomachs and to listen to stories and watch the show – reaping all the benefits yet not accepting The Giver.
How about you my reader? What blessings has God given you that you take for granted? Have you witnessed the healing of people you prayed for and yet you have lost the awesomeness of God? Are we truly grateful for our daily bread and all of the creature comforts we enjoy? Stop whatever you are doing and do so today.