RISEN

RISEN

As I stood on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, I was profoundly moved standing in this place and recognizing my own deep need for soul restoration and peace with God. Tabgha is the traditional site where Jesus first called His disciples, performed several miracles and prepared a last breakfast for his disciples post-resurrection. Here He restored Peter to relationship with Himself and to future service as head of The Church. However, my mind was also flashing back to scenes from a movie we had recently watched called Risen.

The crucifixion of Jesus is over but Pilates’ problems are still unravelling. Three day later the body is missing from the tomb and Clavius, a Roman tribune is tasked with finding the body. He examines the tomb and finds the Roman seal has burst from the inside, the heavy stone moved, used grave cloths lay empty and the guards cannot be found. He begins his pursuit of ferreting out the truth.

The Tribune sends his guards to find all followers of this Yeshua to find what they did with the body and to stop the rumors that their crucified teacher had risen from the dead as He prophesied. Clavius enters the upper room where he finds the disciples with Jesus, he drops his sword as he views the man he saw die on the cross, sitting among them. He watches in shock as Thomas examines the mans’ hands and pierced side. He cannot reconcile two things in his mind, “A man dead without question, and that same man alive again.” He then abandons his post and follows these disciples back to Galilee to learn more. He is at Tabgha with the disciples and realizes this man Jesus is like no other. The Tribune admits his part in the crucifixion to which Jesus replies, “I know”. And then asks him, “what bothers you?” Clavius replies, “being wrong”. “What is it you seek?” but before he can reply Jesus answers,” Certainty, peace and a day without war?“‘ The very same answer this Tribune had given Pilate earlier. At the end of the film, Clavius is retelling his story to an inn keeper and states, “I believe. I can never be the same.”

Have you examined the facts of The Resurrection? Jesus’ willing sacrifice on the cross was for our sin to reconcile us with The Father. His last words were, “It is Finished”. There was no more need for animal sacrifice and we can not earn our salvation by doing good works. The power over death and the grave has only been accomplished by Jesus, the Son of God . Every other prophet and leader in history remains in their grave. Being a Christian means being a follower of Jesus Christ, having peace with God, sharing His love and being certain of our eternal future. What bothers you my friend? What is it that you long for? Do you seek certainty and peace? Follow Him and your life will never be the same.

Standing at Tabgha on
the shore of the Sea of Galilee

Jesus’ Last Journey to Jerusalem

Jesus’ Last Journey to Jerusalem

When Jesus and His disciples were preparing to go to Jerusalem for Passover He tried to clearly explain that His end was near but they did not understand. Jesus knew there was still work to do in his last couple of weeks. The 40 mile trip was taken in a series of day hikes over moderate to strenuous terrain by first traveling through the Jordan river valley.

The ancient city of Jericho was an oasis due to underground springs, a common stop for weary pilgrims and an out-post for Roman soldiers. As He drew near to Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging. He heard that Jesus was passing by and despite the crowds’ shushing began to cry out loudly, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Jesus stopped and commanded him to be brought to him and asked the man, “What do you want me to do for you?” He said, “Lord, let me recover my sight.” And Jesus said to him, “ Your sight is restored; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he could see and followed him, glorifying God. And all the people, when they saw it, gave praise to God.

A sycamore tree in Jericho today called the Zacchaeus tree.

They continued passing through Jericho and behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich from cheating his own people working for the Romans. He wanted to see Jesus but could not because of the great crowd and his short stature. So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him. And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.” So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully. And when the people saw it, they all grumbled, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.” And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

Walking the Jericho road towards Jerusalem was the most difficult and dangerous part of the trip. Approximatly a 15 mile stretch uphill about a half mile high and westward. Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. So they gave a dinner for him there. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those reclining with him at table. Mary took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.  But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said,  “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he liked helping himself to their money bag. Jesus said, “Leave her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of my burial. For the poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me.” Large crowds were coming to see Jesus and Lazarus. So the chief priests made plans to put Lazarus to death as well, because on account of him many of the Jews were going away and believing in Jesus.

Jesus knew his time left on earth was limited but He was never too busy to stop and care for people. The blind beggar was given his sight from Jesus, The Light of the World. He stopped to look up in a tree to see a man considered a traitor to his people that was in desperate need of restoration of soul. Jesus rested one last time with dear friends who had often welcomed him into their home. Only Jesus understood the enormity of the sacrifice and service Mary performed and that it was the only proper burial preparation his earthly body would receive. The next day Jesus prepared for His last entry into Jerusalem. He came humbly, riding on a colt, a symbol of peace not as a warrior because He is the Prince of Peace. He accepted praise from the crowd that would soon turn into an angry mob shouting epitaphs. Today from the Mount of Olives there is a magnificent view of the ancient Temple and old city of David. And it was here from the Garden of Gethsemane that Jesus prayed for His friends, followers and us.

Has Jesus brought light to your life, restoration to your soul or peace to your heart? This week, reflect on all that Jesus has done – the life He lived, the examples He set and the sacrifice of His own sinless life to reconcile us with The Father. Let us worship Him with hearts full of love, joy and thanksgiving.

Scripture passages were taken from Matthew 21:1-11, Luke 18:33-19:10 and Luke 19:28-38

Tagbah – To Walk Where Jesus Walked -part 6

Tagbah – To Walk Where Jesus Walked -part 6

Our trip to Israel was so amazing that I am still processing all we saw, learned and did.  A place called Tagbah is still the most meaningful for me.

Tagbah sits on the north-western shore of the Sea of Galilee at the foot of the Mount of the Beatitudes.  This was a favorite fishing spot for the men from nearby Capernaum.  There are several warm springs that enter the Lake here that attract numerous fish especially in winter.

Togbah

There were two churches built at Tagbah; one that comemmorates Jesus feeding the 5000 – The Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes. This is built over a 4th century church where Byzantine tile work can still been on the floor under the altar. The second church  – The Church of Peter’s Primacy – is where Jesus made His third post-resurection appearance to the disciples.  Jesus had been crucified. All of the disciples hopes and dreams seemed gone so the men went back to what they knew best – fishing.

3 Simon Peter said, “I’m going fishing.” “We’ll come, too,” they all said. So they went out IMG_2092in the boat, but they caught nothing all night.4 At dawn Jesus was standing on the beach, but the disciples couldn’t see who he was.5 He called out, “Fellows, have you caught any fish?” “No,” they replied.6 Then he said, “Throw out your net on the right-hand side of the boat, and you’ll get some!” So they did, and they couldn’t haul in the net because there were so many fish in it.7 Then the disciple Jesus loved said to Peter, “It’s the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his tunic (for he had stripped for work), jumped into the water, and headed to shore…….8  When they got there, they found breakfast waiting for them—fish cooking over a charcoal fire, and some bread. ….15 After breakfast Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these? ” “Yes, Lord,” Peter replied, “you know I love you.” “Then feed my lambs,” Jesus told him.16 Jesus repeated the question: “Simon son of John, do you love me?” “Yes, Lord,” Peter said, “you know I love you.” “Then take care of my sheep,” Jesus said.17 A third time he asked him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt that Jesus asked the question a third time. He said, “Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Then feed my sheep.          John 21:1-17 (NLT)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This church sits by the shore and the rock incorporated into its floor is believed to be the place Jesus served breakfast.  A communion table is set in a small garden nearby.  We stood on the shore listening to these scriptures and we were challenged to think of Peter’s restoration and what God may be saying to our own hearts. Three times Peter denied Jesus and three times he was asked, “Do you love ME?” – with the command to “feed MY sheep”.

Peter, the first called, the one to always speak up, the one to jump ahead, one of the three closest friends of Jesus, had really blown it. In fear he had denied our Lord not once but three times.  Jesus lovingly confronts and forgives him then restores and renews Peter’s mission. Friend, it does not matter where you come from or what you have done in the past. Jesus will confront us with our failures or selfishness so we can repent. There is nothing too big or bad that He cannot forgive. He loves you and has an incredible plan for your life. Search your heart and see if there is anything in the way of your relationship with Christ.  He’s still asking “do you love ME”?  then come follow Me……

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Jericho – To Walk Where Jesus Walked part 4

Jericho – To Walk Where Jesus Walked part 4

DSC_0469Jericho, “the City of Palms”, is and was an oasis in a very dry and mountainous land due to an ancient stream running through it.  After Jerusalem, it is the most excavated site in Israel and archaeologists have marked it as “the oldest city in the world” due to layers of artifacts dating to the Neolithic age. Today it lies within the Palestinian territory of the West Bank near the Jordan River.

During Jesus’ lifetime the Jericho road, which led to Jerusalem, was well traveled but quite dangerous. Caravans full of cargo, military personnel and pilgrims heading to Jerusalem would all use this roadway. The trip from Jerusalem to Jericho was approximately 18 miles and would descend more than a half mile in elevation.  Jericho is the lowest city in the world at 850 ft below sea level. Because of the isolated terrain, people were a target for bandits who had plenty of places to hide.

Herod had built his winter palace there and the city catered to the rich and powerful. It JerichoSycamorewas also a designated home for the priests and Levites on roster to serve at the Temple. A perfect place for a tax collector named Zacchaeus.  The blind and lame would have been sitting along the road begging for alms.

The Good Samaritan in Luke 10:30-37  

30 Jesus replied with a story: “A Jewish man was traveling on a trip from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he was attacked by bandits. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him up, and left him half dead beside the road.31 “By chance a priest came along. But when he saw the man lying there, he crossed to the other side of the road and passed him by.32 A Temple assistant walked over and looked at him lying there, but he also passed by on the Jericho roadother side.33 “Then a despised Samaritan came along, and when he saw the man, he felt compassion for him.34 Going over to him, the Samaritan soothed his wounds with olive oil and wine and bandaged them. Then he put the man on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he took care of him.35 The next day he handed the innkeeper two silver coins, telling him, ‘Take care of this man. If his bill runs higher than this, I’ll pay you the next time I’m here.’36 “Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by bandits?” Jesus asked.37 The man replied, “The one who showed him mercy.” Then Jesus said, “Yes, now go and do the same.”

Jesus’ audience would have circled in to listen carefully. They understood the characters, dangers and the severe terrain. Neither a priest nor a Levite would want to ceremonially defile himself. It would have caused a great inconvenience of time and money. So instead they see the need but pass by on the other side. Jesus goes on to describe a despised Samaritan, who stops, sees and goes above and beyond to show deep love and mercy towards another human in great need.

This parable applies throughout the centuries. We should see needs and stop to help or get involved if we can. NO, we can’t help everyone. The needs of today are so far and wide – in our neighborhood and across the globe. But we ALL can make a difference in ONE person’s life. Ask God to open your eyes, don’t just pass by. Be like the Samaritan who didn’t see ethnic, social or economical differences but instead a neighbor in need.

 

Chorus from Amy Grant’s  My Father’s Eyes

She’s got her father’s eyes,
Her father’s eyes;
Eyes that find the good in things,
When good is not around;
Eyes that find the source of help,
When help just can’t be found;
Eyes full of compassion,
Seeing every pain;
Knowing what you’re going through
And feeling it the same.
Just like my father’s eyes,

 

References used include:   BiblePlaces.com / Faith ND/  Bible Odessey / Wikepedia

Capernaum – To Walk Where Jesus Walked

Capernaum –                                                     To Walk Where Jesus Walked

Capernaum was a busy fishing village with a population of about 1500 located on the northern shores of the Sea of Galilee. Archeological excavations have revealed two ancient synagogues built one over the other. A house turned into a church by the Byzantines is said to be the house of Saint Peter. (Wikipedia) It became an important stop for Roman soldiers. Jesus called His first disciples from the area and spent a lot of time in Capernaum and He may have lived with Peter’s family while here or other disciples.

And leaving Nazareth he went and lived in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, 14  so that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:  (Isaiah 9:1-2)    Matt 4:13-14 (ESV)

Since recently visiting Israel my scripture reading now includes better insights of how IMG_2003and where they lived and ministered. Peter’s house was right across the road from the synagogue!

And immediately he left the synagogue and entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. 30 Now Simon’s mother-in-law lay ill with a fever, and immediately they told him about her. 31 And he came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and the fever left her, and she began to serve them. 32 That evening at sundown they brought to him all who were sick or oppressed by demons. 33 And the whole city was gathered together at the door. Mark 1:29-33

IMG_2012Today this spot is surrounded first by an octagonal wall that was a 4th century church marking the historicity of the place and today a modern Catholic church hovers over the excavated area with a window in the floor for all to see the room where Jesus may have preached.

In this one town we read about people from many different walks of life coming to see Jesus. Unlikely people who would not have otherwise spoken to each other came in droves for healing and to hear the teaching from this incredible man of God. These stories of faith are filled with healing and restoration. There were no hospitals. The sick and lame were a burden to their families if they could not work. They were forbidden to enter the synagogue because they were “unclean”. Life changing miracles of restoration include not just body and mind but of life and purpose. Yet despite witnessing the power of God, Jesus later admonishes this town too for their unbelief.

Peter’s mother-in-law helped host many people in their home while Jesus was in town preaching. How often did she help serve the hungry band of disciples? One time the house was so packed four friends cut a hole through the roof to get their paralyzed friend to Jesus. Maybe they were out working together and he fell down the steep hillside…a terrible accident…would Jesus restore their friend?Magdala

A Roman centurion would have had total disgust for the Jews in general. But one understood Jesus’ power and authority and he humbled himself to ask for healing for his beloved servant. Jarius was synagogue leader that asked Jesus to heal his little girl while at the same time a woman, suffering from a bleeding disorder for twelve years, reaches to touch His robe and is instantly healed.

                         REAL  PEOPLE.  REAL  STORIES.  REAL  LIFE  SITUATIONS.

 The world has vastly changed in building, knowledge, technology and travel; but people have not changed! That is one reason why the Bible is so relevant for today.  We too have family, friends, government, work and worship.

 Jesus also did many other things. If they were all written down, I suppose the whole world could not contain the books that would be written.   John 21:25 (NLT)

 My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life. John 10:10 

  I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”    John 16:33 

God stepped out of glory in the form of Jesus to live and share real life with mankind; all of it – the joys, fellowship, sadness and hurt. He understands. Come to Him in the middle of your mess or in your greatest joys… then share your story so all can hear of His love and life changing power.

Ariel view of Capernaum today    CapernaumAerialView

To Walk Where Jesus Walked-Bethsaida

To Walk Where Jesus Walked-Bethsaida

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.

bethsaida_map

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.”Plain-of-Bethsaida-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)

BethSaida3sroadStanding 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.