David Reagan - Pilgrimage 3 - The Galilee
The geographical focus of Jesus’ three year ministry was in the northern part of Israel called The Galilee, where the beautiful Sea of Galilee is located. In this program we’re going to continue our Holy Land pilgrimage by taking a look at the sites in the Galilee that relate to Jesus’ ministry. Stay, tuned.
Dr. Reagan: Well here we are on day three of our pilgrimage here in the Holy Land. We arrived late last night here in the city of Tiberias on the western coast of the Sea of Galilee. We’re up bright and early this morning, Gary, ready to go.
Gary Fisher: Yes, amen.
Dr. Reagan: And, folks, we had a very busy day yesterday but it’s nothing compared to today. Today we are going to start off with a trip on a cruise on a boat across the Sea of Galilee. And when we get out in the middle we’re just going to stop and kill the motors and we are going to have a devotional that will be led by one of the member of our pilgrimage group. Then we’ll head on up to the northwestern corner of the Sea of Galilee to a kibbutz called, Kibbutz Ginosar. This is a famous kibbutz because a few years ago the Sea of Galilee got to its all-time low level in the 20th Century and it revealed some ports around the sea that they didn’t know existed. And at one of those they found a First Century fishing boat in the mud completely preserved. And it came known as the Jesus Boat, they don’t like to call it that over here so they just call it the First Century Boat. But we’ll go there and see that and give the folks their first opportunity to do some shopping here in the land. And I’ll tell you it is always difficult to get them out of that place.
Gary Fisher: Amen.
Dr. Reagan: Then from there we’re going to go up to the Hill of the Beatitudes where we’ll have another devotional. That’s a beautiful area, beautiful chapel and we’ll have a devotional there led by another member of our group. And then from the Hill of the Beatitudes, of course that is where Jesus gave His Sermon on the Mount. We’ll head to a village called Korazin which is one of the three villages that Jesus focused His entire ministry upon. From Korazin we will come back down to the Sea of Galilee and we’ll have lunch. That’s always one of your favorite times.
Gary Fisher: St. Peter.
Dr. Reagan: St. Peter’s fish, and that’s caught right here in the Sea of Galilee. From there we’re going to go to Capernaum.
Gary Fisher: Yes.
Dr. Reagan: Which is the headquarters of Jesus, that’s where the headquarters of His ministry was. And Gary is going to present a devotional there at that site.
Gary Fisher: Right.
Dr. Reagan: From there we’re going to drive all the way down to the southern end of the Sea of Galilee where the water comes out to the Jordan River to a place called Yardenit where the government has built a beautiful baptismal place run by kibbutz. And there we will be baptizing people as a witness of their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Of all those sites, Gary, which one do you look forward to the most?
Gary Fisher: The boat ride.
Dr. Reagan: The boat ride, yeah.
Gary Fisher: The boat ride is always the one that does me in because I can look at the landscape of the land knowing the prophecies that are being fulfilled, and the land being restored. I also know that Jesus loved water, out of your being shall flow rivers of living water. When He rules and reigns down in Jerusalem He is going to have a river that comes out from under His throne. And He ran His ministry around this lake over here. He was asleep in the boat one night and they had to wake Him up. So, they did a lot of things on this water. So when we go out there on that water my brain goes to Jesus and Him functioning around His disciples on that water way. He comes walking on the water one night and all that. So my brain visits all of that while we are out here. And it just is a reminder Jesus was actually here.
Dr. Reagan: Well, I agree with you brother and I tell you what today while we’re out there I may just ask you to see if you have the faith of Peter to step out on that water.
Gary Fisher: Well, good luck.
Dr. Reagan: Well, folks, I tell you the thing that I look forward to the most today is the visit to the little village of Korazin. It is place that pilgrims normally do not go, we are usually the only ones there. And one of the reasons I love it so much is because it is so absolutely authentic. A lot of places over here are traditional sites, this is a real site. And the other reason I love it is because we always conduct a healing service there and we’ve had some remarkable moves of the Spirit over the years. Well, Gary, I guess we better go get on the boat.
Gary Fisher: Looking forward to it.
Dr. Reagan: Alright, let’s go.
Dr. Reagan: Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah praise ye the Lord. Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah praise ye the Lord.
I’d like to conclude this service the way I always do here on the Sea of Galilee and that’s by reading a poem by Carl Sandburg called, Epistle, “Jesus loved the sunsets on Galilee. Jesus loved the fishing boats forming silhouettes against the sunsets on Galilee. Jesus loved the fisherman on the fishing boats forming silhouettes against the sunsets on Galilee. And when Jesus said, ‘Good-bye, good-bye I will come again,’ Jesus meant that good-bye for the sunsets, the fishing boats, the fishermen, the silhouettes all and any against the sunsets of Galilee, and that good-bye, and that promise means all or nothing at all. To us it means everything.”
Kibbutz Ginosar is the location of the Jesus Boat Museum where a First Century fishing boat is displayed. It is also our first shopping stop. This beautiful chapel sits on top of the Hill of the Beatitudes where we had our first devotional service of the day.
Several years ago we had a young man with us who was a preacher, a very young one, from Missouri and he told me that morning when we got up to get on this ship to come over here to the Hill of Beatitudes he said, “I got up and was doing a devotional and since we were coming there I decided I’d read the Beatitudes.”
And so he spent that morning reading them and thinking about them. And while he was on the boat he suddenly starting writing. I noticed he was sitting over there just writing, writing, writing. And when we got up here he said, “Whenever they finish the devotional I’d like to read something the Lord put on my heart this morning.” I said, “Ok.” So I called on him and he stepped up and he said, “When I was thinking about the Beatitudes this morning I was thinking about how totally radical they are, even to this day, totally radical, because,” he said, “just stop and think what the Beatitudes would be from the world’s view. They would be like this. Blessed are the self-confident for they will dominate. Blessed are the revelers for they will experience unmitigated pleasure. Blessed are the overbearing for they will control. Blessed are the self-sufficient for they will sustain themselves. Blessed are the self-possessed for their egos will be satisfied. Blessed are the hedonistic for the pleasures of the world will be theirs. Blessed are the manipulators for they will be powerful. Blessed are the materialists for they will live in mansions. And blessed are the greedy because they will have more stuff than any other people.” And I thought, you know the Beatitudes really are radical because that is the viewpoint of the world.
Dr. Reagan: The village of Korazin is situated about a mile north of the Sea of Galilee. It was one of three village where Jesus focused His ministry, but unlike the other two, Capernaum and Bethsaida, it was not a fishing village rather its inhabitants grew wheat. The synagogue is very authentic and is where Jesus performed some His miracles. This is the village where we always conduct a healing service.
Ok, if you have your Bibles handy turn over to Mark chapter 1 and we will take a look here for a few moments while we are here at Korazin at the healing ministry of Jesus. I love this place because this is one of the three cities that Jesus focused His ministry in. Capernaum was the headquarters, Korazin and Bethsaida was where He focused His ministry. And the bad news is that when He left the Galilee the last time He decided that because they had rejected Him and rejected His ministry even though He performed His greatest miracles here He put a curse on three cities before He left. And He said, “If Sodom and Gomorrah would have heard what I preached there they would have repented but you did not. So it’s going to be worse for you on the Day of Judgment then Sodom and Gomorrah.” The interesting thing about that is that about 100 years later, 150 years later there was tremendous earthquakes in this area and those three cities were totally destroyed. Tiberias was not, but those three were. To the point that by 1800 critics of the Bible were writing entire books that they can prove that the Bible is full of myth, legend and superstition because it said Jesus spent His ministry in three towns that never existed they were so totally destroyed. Two of them were destroyed–we discovered by archaeologists in the 19th Century, the third Bethsaida was not discovered until this century–until the 20th Century and there is still an argument among archaeologists as to whether or not that’s the actual one.
But this is legitimate, this is a place where Jesus was frequently and where He ministered and where He did mighty works of healing. Let’s read about those in Mark chapter 1 beginning with verse 32, “At evening when the sun had set they brought to Jesus all who were sick and those who were demon possessed. And the whole city was gathered together at the door and He healed many who were sick with various diseases and cast out many demons and he did not allow the demons to speak because they knew Him.” Go to verse 39, “And He was preaching in their synagogues throughout all Galilee casting out demons.” So He healed people. He cast out demons. He had a very, very active healing ministry.
Now I grew up in a church that did not believe in healing. I grew up in a church that had what was called Cessationist Theology. Cessationist Theology is very common today among most churches. It is a theology that says that when the last apostle died all the supernatural ceased, all the gifts of the spirits ceased. God’s intervention in history ceased. And we were left to cope with life with our minds that God had given us and with this book and that was it. No more supernatural, no more miracles that was in a day long past. The extreme expression of that is called Deism many of the Founding Fathers of America were Deists they believed in a God but they believed in an impersonal God, they did not believe in a God who was personal at all. If you would have told a Deist that you were praying for your wife to be healed he would laugh at you. He would probably say to you, “Well you know maybe God is concerned about Presidents or Kings or something like that, but your wife’s sinus problems? No, this is not something God is going to be concerned about.” So Deists had a very impersonal, aloof god. And that is the kind of God I grew up with and because of–let me tell you if you have that theology you will never get excited about reading the Bible because the Bible is full of stories of people who get into desperate situations and when they do they reach out to God, God intervenes and does something. And if you don’t believe God does that anymore the Bible is totally irrelevant.
So, I remember when I was about 25 years old I went to eat lunch with a man one day and we got to talking about the Bible and he suddenly asked me a question he said, “Do you believe in healing?” And I said, “What do you mean?” He said, “Supernatural healing, do you believe that God would supernaturally heal somebody?” I said, “Well I don’t know.” He said, “Has anybody in your family ever been supernaturally healed?” I said, “Not that I know of.” He said, “How about in your church?” I said, “Not that I know of.” He said, “Well do you think God can do that?” I said, “No, I don’t really think so.” He said, “Then don’t ever expect it. Don’t ever expect it God is not going to–He’s a gentleman He’s not going to impose Himself upon you. He’s not going to force something upon you that you don’t believe.”
Well boy that was like some guy stuck a knife in me and turned it because let me tell you something the church I went to–I remember one time the preacher got up to preach and somebody went up and handed him a note and he opened the note and it said, “We just got a phone call that sister so and so had a heart attack and they rushed her to the hospital.” He said, “Let’s pray.” And he prayed, “Lord, help the doctors remember what they learned in medical school. Help them to prescribe the right medicine,” and so forth and so on. If he would have simply said, “Lord, have mercy on sister so and so please heal her in the name of Jesus,” we would have had five more heart attacks to deal with in the congregation because he had said the word healed.
And I made two discoveries in the Scripture that I had never heard before one of them was over in the book of Hebrews in Hebrew 13:8 which says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” He didn’t retire in the First Century. God is the same forever. He has not changed, He still intervenes. He intervenes supernaturally in many ways. He intervenes for example by putting judgments upon nations through weather calamities and things of that nature. He intervenes in our life, He disciplines us. You ever been disciplined by the Lord? I have. I’ll tell you what He can get your attention. Sometimes He has to hit you over the head with 2×4 to get it but He’ll get your attention because He loves you and that’s the reason He disciplines you. But God intervenes, God is still alive, God is still active. And the other Scripture I discovered which really changed my life was over in 1 Peter 5 and if you have your Bible I want you to turn over there and read that with me because it’s so important I don’t want you ever to forget it. And I had been at the church for 30 years and never once heard this Scripture. In 1 Peter 5 and look there at verse 6, 1 Peter 5:6, “Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God that He may exalt you in due time. Cast all your cares upon Him,” why? “Because He cares for you.”
Christianity is the only religion in the world that has a personal God, it’s the only one. In the Islamic world they do not have a personal God he is aloof, he’s distant, he is arbitrary they never know whether they have any confidence of salvation or not. The only ones who know are those who die as martyrs. Mohammad himself said right before his death he had no idea whether he was saved or not because it’s an aloof God. Not once in the Koran in all of the descriptions of god does it ever say that god is a god of love the god that they worship. But our God is a God who cares, He’s concerned about every concern that you have. He concerned about every worry that you have. He’s concerned about every decision you are trying to make and He’s a gentleman He doesn’t force Himself on you, you have to reach out like a little child in faith and say, “God help me with this decision. God heal.” And He will respond in His own way, and His own timing.
Probably about ten years ago we were at this very site praying for people and we had a video photographer with us who was with us the whole trip and he filmed this healing service. We got back to the bus and we were just about to pull away and he came running he had put together some of his equipment and he got on the bus and said, “Could you wait just ten minutes?” And I said, “Yes.” I thought he needed to go to the bathroom so he left. And he was gone about ten minutes and he came back and he said, “While I was filming God spoke to my heart and God said, “Don, I want to heal you right now.” Don Gordoni had not been able to eat anything with wheat in it since he was about ten years old it would make him physically ill, anything with wheat. He had to have corn or something like that. And so he said, “David, I went back and prayed and I believe God healed me.” And tonight for the first time he was about 40 then he said for the first time in 30 years I am going to eat all the wheat I can eat tonight. I said, “Don, let’s talk about this for a moment.” I said, “Now, appreciate your faith but you are the only guy who knows how to operate this camera, we brought you all the way over here.” And he said, “I’m sorry God’s healed me I’m eating wheat tonight.” So I started praying. But anyway he ate the wheat and he’s been eating wheat ’til this day. That happened right here.
Dr. Reagan: Ok, folks, we have now arrived on the north shore of the Sea of Galilee and we are at a restaurant that specializes in serving fish, St. Peter’s fish the kind of fish that is caught in the Sea of Galilee. And this is what a St. Peter’s fish looks like. And it has a wonderful taste to it, it is a white flaky sort of flesh that reminds me of tilapia and probably is in the tilapia family. But I have a problem with this fish, and the problem is this I simply cannot eat anything that is looking at me. So, what I am going to do is put this napkin right there and now I can take my knife and my fork and I can go at it.
Our next stop was at the town of Capernaum, which was the home base of Jesus’ ministry. As you enter the town you are greeted with a statue of the Apostle Peter. But the focal point of the town is the beautiful white synagogue that was built in the 2nd Century. The floor of the synagogue of Jesus’ time is directly beneath this building.
Well there is no way to over emphasize the importance of where we are right now because this was the headquarters of Jesus’ ministry. This was His home away from home. We are going to be in Capernaum tomorrow–I mean in Nazareth tomorrow and we will go a traditional site of a synagogue there and we will study the story of Jesus being kicked out of His home town. As Jesus said a prophet has honor except in His own country and His family could not accept Him as the Messiah. And neither could the people who had seen Him grow up there in the town of Nazareth. So He came here and He was here for approximately 3 ½ years while this was the headquarters of His ministry. Each year during the feast time He would walk all the way to Jerusalem and back but otherwise He was in this area ministering here. I’ve asked Gary to talk with us about the importance of Capernaum and so here is Gary, Lion of Judah Ministries.
Gary Fisher: Thank you, Brother. If you want to follow along with your Bible, if you have your Bible I’m in Luke 4. Dave has already mentioned the set up for this story and we’ll visit a little place tomorrow up in Nazareth where the first part of this story took place. So I am going to save that part of the story for tomorrow, we’ll pick it up as Jesus came down here. And I have several philosophical questions that are based in the Bible here to ask us all as a group before we get done here. But I want to focus your attention to verse 20–let me get my reading glasses on–verse 28, “So all those in the synagogue,” this is the synagogue where we will be tomorrow. So I’ll bring part of this story back up tomorrow. “When they heard these things they were filled with wrath. They rose up and thrust Him out of the city. And they led Him to the brow of the hill on which the city was built.” They were going to throw Him off of there. And it says here, “Passing through the midst of them,” He became invisible, “and He went His way.” Now, where did He go? Next verse, He went down to Capernaum, city of Galilee.
There is a philosophical question here that just jumps off the page at me, Jesus is treated that way today. And if He is rejected in your life He will go somewhere else until you invite Him to come back. Jesus that day came to this town. This is a real place where He was really here. You are here and a good philosophical question number two would be: Why are you here? Why am I here? The same place where Jesus headquartered His ministry.
Verse 31, “He went down to Capernaum the city of Galilee and He was teaching them on the Sabbath and they were astonished at His teaching for His Word was with authority. In the synagogue there was a man who had a spirit of an unclean demon. He cried out with a loud voice saying, ‘Let us alone. What do we have to do with you? What do we have to do with you Jesus of Nazareth? Why have you come destroy us? I know who you are, you are the Holy One of God.'” Amazing the demons knew who He was but Israel didn’t know who He was. So there is a little problem that we are going to work through here right here and if you allow yourself you’ll miss it but the answer is being answered in the question here: Who is this Jesus? Israel is asking themselves, who is this Jesus? Jesus says, come to Capernaum to legitimize His ministry. Who is He? So now He’s come down here and the demons are subject to His name. Whoa! And they haven’t seen any Rabbis do this and so verse 35 Jesus rebuked the man saying, “‘Be quiet and come out of him.’ And when the demon had thrown him in their midst and came out of him and did not hurt him. Then they were all amazed.” Catch that electricity everybody is watching and here is a brand new Rabbi showed up on the scene and this miraculous is happening.
Dr. Reagan: Our last stop of the day was at the baptismal site on the Jordan River. In Psalm 2 it says that God made a promise, David wrote this song, and he said at the time he wrote it it had been revealed to him that God had made a promise that the anointed one of God would one day rule over all the world, all the nations of the world. Do you believe that Jesus of Nazareth will fulfill that prophecy?
Dr. Reagan: I do.
Dr. Reagan: As a witness of your faith I now baptize you in the name of Yeshua Hamashia the Messiah of Israel and the Savior of the Gentiles, hallelujah. Amen.
Dr. Reagan: That baptismal scene you just witnessed brings back a lot of memories. I went to Israel for the first time in 1979, and at that time, there were no facilities for baptisms. You just had to drive up and down the Jordan River and try to find a sloping bank where people could easily walk down into the water. Then you had to pull all the shades down on the bus and let the women change clothes, followed by the men. Once everyone was ready, I would wade out in the river and call each of them into the water, one by one. And as I baptized them, I would slowly sink deeper and deeper into the river bottom. By the time I had finished, I had sunk so deep in the mud, I could not move. Someone then had to throw me a rope and pull me out!
Incidentally, if you have missed any of the programs in this series entitled A Pilgrimage to the Holy Land you can find them on our website at lamblion.com.
Next week, the Lord willing, we will present the 4th day in our pilgrimage. We will begin with a visit to Nazareth where Jesus grew up. From there we will proceed across the Valley of Armageddon to the ancient fortress of Megiddo. Then we will head back across the valley to the Jordan River where we will visit the largest archeological dig in all of Israel at the ancient city of Bet Shean. We will conclude the day by driving down the Jordan Valley to Jericho where we will turn east to make the ascent to Jerusalem, which the Bible refers to as “the city of the great King,” for it is from that city that Jesus will one day reign over all the earth.
I hope you will be back with us next week. Until then, this is Dave Reagan speaking for Lamb & Lion Ministries, saying, “Look up, be watchful, for our Redemption is drawing near.”