Today began with an early start and a boat trip on the Sea of Galilee. We were lulled into the presence of the Holy Spirit by the worship music and gentle undulation of the boat. From the boat we looked along the Northern shores where Jesus’ ministry took place (Capernaum, Bethsaida and Magdala).
Shortly after worship we learnt from Pamela that today was the Holocaust remembrance and that later on in the week would be the commemoration of Israel’s independence when we remember the birth of the state of Israel and God’s purpose. We were amazed that God would have us here at this time during these two significant events in Israel’s history!
Pastor read the group the following scripture:
24 And there shall be no more a pricking brier unto the house of Israel, nor any grieving thorn of all that are round about them, that despised them; and they shall know that I am the Lord GOD. 25 Thus saith the Lord GOD; When I shall have gathered the house of Israel from the people among whom they are scattered, and shall be sanctified in them in the sight of the heathen, then shall they dwell in their land that I have given to my servant Jacob. 26 And they shall dwell safely therein, and shall build houses, and plant vineyards; yea, they shall dwell with confidence, when I have executed judgments upon all those that despise them round about them; and they shall know that I am the LORD their God. (Ezekiel 28:24 – 26)
We were reminded that despite all that is going on at the moment in regards to Israel and its neighbouring countries. God will deal with Israel’s neighbours and bring peace to Israel.
Pulling the Word
After the boat trip we took the coach to Capernaum. Whilst travelling, Pamela initiated the purpose of the tour which was to study a selection of women of the Bible. As contextual information, Pamela described to us, the importance of ritual purification to the Jews. In Jesus’ time ritual cleansing was very important and every town, with a Jewish community, had to have a ritual emersion bath.
We were then ready to be introduced to our first two women of the Bible for study; the woman with the issue of blood and Jairus’s daughter. Rev. Taylor gave a clear and comprehensive exposition on the uncleanness attributed to both these females, and how Jesus took them from being outcasts and touched them with his love and acceptance.
In Luke 8: 41 – 49, Jesus is on his way to see Jairus, a wealthy man, because his 12 year old daughter was extremely sick. Whilst on His way the crowd is thronging Him, yet he feels the touch (virtue/power left him) of a desperate woman who had suffered an issue of blood for 12 years. It was against the law for a menstruating woman to be in the presence of people and even more of a problem for her to be in the presence of a rabbi, yet by faith this woman (separated from people for 12 years!) broke tradition and rules to touch the hem of Jesus’ garment and she was healed. Furthermore when Jesus asked “who touched me?” the woman bravely admitted it, her faith was commended and she was sent away in peace.
The fringes of the hem represented the 613 precepts in the Torah – the promises in His Word. This has spiritual significance to us who believe in Christ. We too can ‘touch the hem of His garment’ when we ‘pull on His Word’, or ‘pull on the Word’ – which is Jesus. It means that when we have an issue in our life we can ask Jesus to help us and use the word that He gave us as the basis for having our need met/resolved.
By the time Jesus reached Jairus’ house, his daughter was dead. She was now unclean as it was against the law to touch a dead body. But praise God – Jesus broke tradition, spoke to the girl and death released her.
The testimonies of the woman and Jairus’ daughter show us that Jesus saw no difference between the outcast and accepted or the rich and the poor in regards to their access to Him. Jesus transcends the traditions and barriers put up by men. Therefore we should praise God for his loving kindness and mercy to us all.
From Last to First
After Capernaum we had lunch and then went to Magdala (Migdal in Hebrew meaning Tower). This was the home of Mary Magdelene. This was a zealot (men who actively fought against Roman rule) oriented town in close proximity to Gamla – the centre of Zealot activity. This was also the back drop to Mary Magdalene’s life.
Jesus released Mary from the domination of seven demons and after this her life was never the same. She went from being under satanic control to being completely devoted to Jesus even being near to him at his crucifixion and present at his burial. She went from having an oppressed low life to being the first to see the stone rolled away, the first to declare Jesus’ resurrection and the first to see the risen Lord.
This is the nature of our Lord, to take a broken outcast thing and make it new. This is what he does when he gives us new life. In return we should be devoted to Him.
A Path of Parables
We then travelled to Arbel the location of a war between the Zealots and Herod’s soldiers. It was also a place that Jesus would have walked with his followers. Pamela posed the group the question “How would Jesus have commented on the battle and dealt with the politics? Jesus’ answer was the Kingdom of God and that is why he spoke to His disciples, through various parables about the Kingdom of God.
As we walked the path in Arbel we saw with our own eyes, thorny ground, stony ground, the wayside, mustard seeds and mountains. Jesus used all these to show the disciples, in terms that they could relate to and understand the characteristics of His Kingdom.
The zealots, pharisees and saducees all thought they knew what was best in regards to ruling the people but the answer was and still is today the Kingdom of God.
Worship at the Jordan
Finally we had a time of worship at the Jordan with prayers of thanksgiving. We poured out our hearts to Jesus asking for His will in to be done in our lives.