Today we spent our time on the north side of the Sea of Galilee near the Syrian and Lebanese borders. We stood next to an actual war zone and saw some amazing things from multiple millennia.
Below is a picture of a Capernaum style house, the kind of house that Jesus spent a lot of time in while teaching and healing around the Sea of Galilee (where he spent 90% of his time). In Mark 2 there is a story of Jesus healing a paralytic man who is lowered by 4 of his friends through the roof of a house. This passage is near and dear to many of our hearts because we have spoken and taught this particular passage so frequently in Young Life. Personally it is a passage I know better than most any other passage in the Bible because it is so rich in detail and in depth. Today, we sat in a house that was probably very similar to the house that Jesus performed this miracle and discussed this very passage. To say it was meaningful and enlightening would be an understatement. While not to different than I imagined it, like so many things in life, it just meant more and was more authentic to stand in a place such as this and see and sense what that conversation and that moment was really like. It was probably very dim, and extremely messy when the paralytic's friends dug through the roof. To fill the room with my Young Life friends and have theological discussion while thinking about this was just a perfect day. This was the first thing we did today and while walking out of the house I turned to another staff guy and said "well, my heart is full, I could be done for the day". However, we weren't done for the day, we were just getting started.
Below is a picture of the road to Damascus that Paul would have been on when he lost his sight and met Jesus. It's not so much of a road as a valley, but this is the way that he (and anyone else) would have traveled to get to Damascus. Fun times.
In the picture below if you look at the hill (which is really a big mountain) on the left you can see that the mountain is obscured by a cloud. Much like it probably was when Jesus took Peter, James and John to the top to see him transfigured and to meet Moses and Elijah! The transfiguration most likely took place here on the top of Mt. Hermon.
This is what the Romans and the Greeks referred to as the Gates of Hades. When Jesus uses the term Hades he is meaning not Hell but rather the Kingdom of this world, or the opposite of the Kingdom of God. When Jesus asked the disciples in Matthew 16 "Who do people say the Son of Man is?" it was most likely within sight of this place near Caesarea Philippi. This was a place of power and a gateway to Israel. Whoever controlled this region controlled the entrance to Israel from Europe. Very important. When Peter answers "you are the Messiah" Jesus appoints him as a teacher and tells him that "The Gates of Hades" will not stand against your teaching he is referring to the powers of this world that will not be able to stop the spread of God's Kingdom. Powerful stuff.