Today we left early and headed out to the sight known as Masada. Masada is a fortress/palace that crazy old Herod the Great built. He was basically a paranoid prepper type who had several fortresses built in case he ever needed to flee Jerusalem and survive the Roman coming after himRead More
We are coming around the home stretch on our trip and there is still much to see and more to learn. The sheer amount of interesting cultural and contextual (1st century context) that we are getting is formidable. I'm only scratching the surface on the amount of info we are digesting.Read More
This post is going to blow your mind! This was the day when my head exploded and I had a hard time digesting so much awesomeness. Yeah, that is a lot of hyperbole, but that's what I'm good for and this was in the top 20 days of my life. By the way, I'm several days behind, so I'm typing this a couple days after the fact.Read More
I'm a day behind after yesterday's early evening. I went to sleep immediately after we finished dinner at 8pm. Sadly, Jessica flew home this morning with 2 other wives (this was part of the plan) so I'm flying solo now with the other 53 people in our group. I was way more sad that she was leaving than I was anticipating. I'm glad she was here for at least part of the experience, but now I wish she would have stayed.
So Day 5 we did quite a bit, I'll hit some highlights. We went to one of the cities of the Decapolis, these 10 cities were all very greek/roman and were not Jewish, so Jesus and other jewish folks of the day would have avoided them like the plague. I'm blanking on the name of this particular city this moment and I'm in a coffee shop with good wifi but not near my notes so I'm going to go with Scythopolis. There is a huge excavation of this entire city that was very focused on commerce and entertainment, because the Romans figured out that the way to keep people happy was to entertain them. Sound familiar? They had public toilets and below is a picture of a bunch of our staff reenacting the scene of public toilets, thankfully they are no longer in use.
From there we went to Nazareth, the childhood home of Jesus and the location that Mary received her vision from the angel about Jesus forthcoming birth. Below is a picture of what could have been Jesus childhood home. Whether it was or not He certainly lived within a stones throw of this location because the ancient town of Nazareth was not much bigger than a couple of football fields. In the first century the population was only about 600 people, now its quite developed and about 80,000 people live there. Crazy to think that the boy Jesus grew up here. The town is on a ridge overlooking a well travelled valley where the end of the world may happen.
This is the church that is built over the ruins of the small town Nazareth. It's very well done with mosaics from around the world.
Not too far from Nazareth is the ancient city of Cana which literally no longer exists. It was destroyed in 66AD by the Romans and never rebuilt. We just "happened" to see a rainbow singing over the former town in the picture below. If you look at the base of the mountain behind the rainbow that is where Cana was located. If you aren't familiar with Cana, it is the location of the scene in John 2 where Jesus turned a large amount of water into wine during a wedding. Classic story that we YL leaders are very familiar with so it's fun to see this location. Another fun fact, there are 2 different families with us that have daughters named Cana, so the rainbow showing up at this time was a nice touch. Thanks Jesus!
What we did the next day is so mind blowing I had to make a separate post. Get ready for some seriously, insanely cool stuff!!!!!
December 25 is not the only day that Christmas is celebrated around the world. The eastern churches celebrate Christmas at different times in January, therefore it is still Christmas time over here in Israel. There are different churches that celebrate Christmas on January 6th, 7th and 19th.
Thoughts on the birth of Jesus
- He was most likely born in the summer because otherwise the shepherds wouldn’t have had their sheep in the fields. If the sheep were in the fields in the non summer months they would have been crushing the crops or eating the seed, however if it was in July -September they would have been in the fields after the harvest.
- Jesus was probably born outside, not in a barn. The word “inn” is probably more accurately translated “guest room”. There was most likely no room in the guest room of Jospeh’s family because everyone was in Bethlehem for the census or because Mary’s pregnancy was a shame filled controversy. On top of that Jesus was probably born outside because that would be less messy and ceremonially unclean.
- The Magi are really most likely Jewish wise men who were living in the East because they were operating their own religious system that was outside of Roman politics and influence. Herod, who was king at the time was appointed King by the people that ruled over Israel, these wise men were seeking the real King who’s star they had seen.
- The manger was definitely made out of stone, like this one.
Words can't describe the overwhelmingness of where we went today. We saw the hill where the feeding of the 5,000 took place, went to Capernaum where Jesus spent a great deal of time and stood on the beach where Jesus reinstated Peter after his triple denial in John 21. Let me start there.Read More