Monday, 11 February 2013

The Rock of the Rocks

Banias, Caesarea Philipi

This morning we drove north into the mountains to what is today known as Banias, and the beginning of the springs for the Jordan River. 

The word Banias is related to an ancient pagan religion of Pan, the god of the underworld. At the time of Jesus, this religious thought was in the northern territory of Caesarea Philipi.

Jesus would retreat with his disciples to this northern area, and the mountain of Hermon. Hermon is a mountain range of 1000 sq km, and is the highest mountain in Syria and Israel. It is “the” mountain of the region.

It is at this place that Jesus said to Peter, “You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the powers of Hades will not prevail against it.”

Seeing the “loneliness” of this holy place, and the significance and magnitude of the “rock,” the Biblical story now has a whole new meaning for me.

The Golan Heights
The further north we drove, the colder it got, and one could see the snow on the mountain tops. Also, the further north we drove, the more obvious it became yet again that we were on land that the Israeli’s were occupying - this time it was not the Palestinians, but the Syrians. Since 1967, the Israeli's moved in to Syria and took over this land because of the heights and the valuable military position. Overlooking a UN Observation Post, we drove to within 50 kilometers of Damascus, and could see the Syrian border and a Syrian border town. Notice the UN observation post below, and the Syrian flay and community in the second picture. 

To go from conflict over Israeli settlement in the Palestinian West Bank, to Israeli occupation of the Syrian border, to looking out over Syria and knowing of the horrible conflict within its own borders, with Damascus only 50 kilometers away, was a very real and clear reminder to me of how broken our world is.

Feeding of the 5000
Our next stop was, way back down the mountain range, back by the Sea of Galilee, and the place were tradition says that Jesus fed the 5000. There is a Benedictine Church on the location, and an altar over the rock where tradition says that Jesus blessed the loaves and fish before distributing them to the crowd.

Sailing on the Sea of Galilee

The final experience for the day, was to sail on the Sea of Galilee!!

As a Newfoundlander, and as a Christian very much in love with Jesus, this was an "at home" feeling!!

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