Saturday, July 13, 2013

NT Day 7: Nazareth

Wow! The last few days have been a bit crazy with wrapping up the class here at JUC and getting packed. I've fallen a few more days behind in posting. Have kept up with the writing side, just not getting the pictures uploaded. At present, I'll be saying goodbye to Jerusalem in two and a half hours, and good bye to Israel at 4:20 in the morning. ... Then on to Rome to meet my wonderful wife! 

Here is Nazareth from 7/8/13

Today we have begun our trek up into the region of Galilee. Rather than following the ancient path, we took the modern bulldozed highway to coast land, up through the Megiddo Pass, into the Jezreel Valley, and across to the Jumping Mountain on the Nazareth Ridge.

City of Nazareth
Much of the discussion here and for the remainder of the day was on the "earthiness" of Jesus. Luke 2:52 states that "Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men. For the most part, we do not a problem with Jesus growing physically or in his omnipotence, but it gets a bit trickier when we look at his omniscience. It is sometimes hard to grapple with Jesus growing in wisdom or in the context of His omniscience, but Luke tells us that Jesus grew in wisdom. Thus implying that at least while he was on earth, He limited himself. This is precisely what we read in Philipians 2:6, "Who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. The question is to what extent did He "humbled or emptied Hismself" and what does it mean to be in the "likeness of men"?  We would claim that Jesus is both fully divine and fully human, but somehow he limited or humbled Himself by becoming a man. We have no problem with Jesus being in the form of a man, but to what extent mentally, physically, and even "spiritually." To what extent could He be tempted? Hebrews 4:15 states, "For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin." Did Jesus become fatigued? John 4:6b states, "Jesus therefore, being wearied from His journey, sat thus by the well." What about his knowledge and awareness? This one is a bit trickier. Mark 5:30 states, "And Jesus, immediately knowing in Himself that power had gone out of Him, turned around in the crowd and said, 'Who touched My clothes?'" Again in Mark 13:32, "But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father." On the other hand, on more than one occasion we read that "Jesus knew their thoughts …" (Matt. 9:4 12:25) The third portion of the verse implies that he grew socially. Although "growing socially may a bit easier to grapple with, a question that does arise is when does Jesus know He is divine? When does He know his cross is coming? When does He understand Torah? Etc. I think an important key to keep in mind is that Jesus was "led by the Spirit." I find the fact that Jesus was "led by the Spirit" quite intriguing. I had not really thought about (Matt. 4:1, Luke 4:1) Jesus being led, but this does testify to His humanity and his dependence upon God the Father. Additionally, we find Jesus consistently praying and finding a secluded place to get alone with the Father presumably to get direction and fellowship alone with His Father. (Matt. 14:23, Mark 1:35, 6:46, et al). If it was so important for Jesus to get alone with the Father, how much we too need to be spending with the Father!

Back to our journey through the land … due to the topography of the mountains, Nazareth would have had more interaction with the towns northward rather than to the south into the Jezreel Valley. Just a three-hour walk north is the Roman city of Sepphoris or in the Hebrew, Zappori. Although the remains here are much later than the first century, the general view down into the valley is a view that Jesus likely would have looked across and crossed as he headed to Cana of Galilee. It is safe to assume that Jesus and his family would have traveled in this area somewhat frequently. Jesus' first recorded miracle was at the wedding in Cana of Galilee. The only way you are invited to a wedding in a neighboring village is to be family or good friends. Along the rocky path to Cana, the fields nearby are some of the most fertile in the nation. Imagine the farmer sowing his seed - some of it falling on the rocky path, some among thorns, and some on the fertile soil where it could easily multiply thirty, sixty, even a hundred fold in this rich soil. While in Sepphoris, we took a quick look at the famous "Mona Lisa" mosaic in likely a very wealthy individual's home.

Don't slip now ...  
After a quick stop for lunch, we headed out to the Cliffs of Arbel. On our way, Dr. Wright explained that a former JUC student had plotted possible routes Jesus may have taken when traveling between Nazareth and towns around the Sea of Galilee. It caught international attention and the Israeli Park service had him come out and mark any overlap with the present park trails with an orange dot. The idea caught on and extended to Jerusalem. Now there is also an Abraham trail going south on the Patriarchal Highway to Beersheba. Anyhow, we can now say we have hike a portion of the Jesus Trial. We again hiked/scaled the cliffs to the bottom of the Arbel pass before heading back to our hotel in Nazareth. After dinner at the St. Gabriel's Hotel. A small group of us wondered our way down through the valley to the Church of the Annunciation. As we did not have a good map, we relied on local instructions. A great way to interact with the local population and culture). It was private prayer time at the church, so no indoor pictures were permitted. On the way back we wondered through the empty streets of the old city – much like Jerusalem. A group of police men helped to redirected us toward our hotel. With the help of a few more locals, we made it back to St. Gabriel's for a good night's rest. 

Overlook into Jezreel Valley from Nazareth Ridge

Church of the Annunciation is the large building with a grey cone-like top
in the middle right. The New Testament Nazareth would have stretched
across to the clump of trees on left.

Lecture on Jumping Mountain

Looking out from Nazareth Ridge toward Mount Tabor

Driving along to Sepphoris

Remains at Sephoris, again most of the remains are post-New Testament
Jesus likely did much work here at a carpenter/tecton as this city was being
built as he was growing up. 

The Theater at Sepphoris

Overlook Toward Cana of Galilee - on the far mountain. This valley is the
Beth Netofa Valley - the most fertile in the country. Grain could easy have
a thirty, sixty, even hundred fold harvest!

Tower at Sepphoris

Looking down on the Theatre

Looking down over the Beth Netofa Valley toward Cana of Galilee

Mosaics at Sepphoris - a very wealthy home!

The "Mona Lisa" of Sepphoris - I've seen this mosaic in books before. Didn't
realize it came from here!

Overlooking lower Sepphoris - the gentleman is working to restore or uncover
a mosaic.

Look at that rich soil!

The Pass of Arbel

See the orange dot next to the Israeli Hiking trail? This means
we're on the Jesus trail - possible a trail that Jesus may
have walked in his day. 

Outlook from the Cliffs of Arbel

Walking along the ridge

Yes, it's a straight drop!

Teaching Moment ...

Looking across to the neighboring cliff face

Getting ready to scale the cliff :)

Working our way down the cliff face. 

Caves that Jews once hid in while trying to escape Herod

What a beautiful pass. ... 

Watch out for the cows

We've made it once again ... kind of have a Texas-Arab
thing going on :)

Passing back through Modern day Cana (not the ancient sight) on our way
to Nazareth

St. Gabriel's Hotel on the top of the ridge behind Nazareth - we could see
it earlier form Nazareth Ridge

Looking out over Nazareth

Do you think we could make it down to the Church of the Annunciation
tonight? ... We'll have to make it quick after supper.

St. Gabriel's Hotel

After many winding streets and asking for directions at
every other corner, we finally make it within site of the Church
of the Annunciation!

It's dark, but the church is open for private prayer - no pictures inside though

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