Places Related to Parables and Miracles

Course: Introduction to the New Testament: Gospel and Acts

Lecture: Places Related to Parables and Miracles

(This lecture represents another set of slides and photos of places in Israel related to the Parables and Miracles of Jesus)

When one envisions Jesus and his disciples crossing the Sea of Galilee by boat, one cannot think about modern boats but smaller ones still used today by fishermen at dust and dawn to ply the waters of this fertile and fish rich sea. These days, tourists can cross over much more quickly and with less effort. Yet, even today, quick squalls can come up with large amounts of rain, accompanied by howling winds. Another photo (slide) shows yellow flowers of the mustard plant beneath much larger palm trees. One can understand, being spring, they have not grown to full size as of yet they do grow fast and thus they remind us of the parable that Jesus taught about the growth of the Kingdom.

The resurrection of the daughter of Jarett was an event in Capernaum that took place in her father’s home. He was described as the synagogue ruler who typical lived in an adjacent large home next to the synagogue, much like a manse being provided for the pastor of a church. This portion of a large excavated home immediate across from the synagogue may have been Jarett’s home. Nain, where Jesus raised the only son of a widow, is one of those smaller towns that have never been excavated. You can see the lush fields of grain in that area today.

The somewhat bizarre story of the exorcism of the demoniac and the herd of pigs which they then subsequently entered; the evil spirits then threw themselves off the cliff into the Sea of Galilee. This probably took place somewhere near the ancient town Khersa. (One photo here reflects the drought conditions of 1986 when the Lake was the lowest it had been in a hundred years) So in Jesus day, the water came right up to the edge of the cliff and thus the pigs would have drowned in the water immediately. One such photo, looking from the bottom of the cliffs, shows the ruins of a Byzantine church just back away at the top of the cliff.

Jesus went to Nazareth where he found out that he could only do a few miracles there because of their lack of belief. Today Nazareth is dominated on the skyline by the Church of the Annunciation which commemorates the traditional site, though we really don’t know where the Angel Gabriel gave the announcement and prophecy to Mary that in spite being a virgin, she would conceive a child who would be the Saviour, Christ the Lord. Another photo with a view from another angle of the church and then a more gloomy obscure picture from the hill overlooking Nazareth where it would have been quite easy for an angry crowd having followed Jesus out of town after he preached in the Nazareth Synagogue, reaching a point where they tried to cast him over the hill side but Jesus seemingly miraculously escaped from them. One photo shows ancient style pottery and kitchen ware with bowls and where bread was made and then put in the oven with yeast reminding us of the parable of the leaven or yeast.

The parable of the rich fool speaks of the man having a bumper crop of grain with no mention of sharing it with any of the many needy people around him. He simply decided to build a bigger storage bin; one such stairway out of the rock along the far edge of that enables the grain owners to go down into the storage bin or house. The next several slides (photos) move to the area outside the ancient city of Caesarea Philippi (north of the Sea of Galilee) which was a center of emperor worship as one might suspect from the name of a town after the Caesar of the time who was Tiberius and also Herod Philip. But before it had been called Caesarea Philippi, it was called Panius after the god of the forest ‘Pan’ in Greek mythology.

The original head waters of the River Jordan, one would have flows out of a cave. But now for the sake of controlling the water, Israeli authority has rerouted some of it; at the same time, turning the area into a national park. But at one point, imperial statues were erected at the mouths of these caves as well. So in a place where there were so much background of false religion, it’s understandable why Jesus might ask what other people were saying about who he was and then to see if the disciples had a better understanding of who he was. Another photo (slide) shows those headwaters of the Jordan, further downstream from the cave entrances. Another angle showing some of the water falls created by the way the river has been dammed up in places. There are also ancient idols, statues to gods and goddesses of the Greco-Roman polytheistic pantheon were worshipped. And later in post Christian times, the site of Muslim tombs as well.

A miracle that appears immediately after Jesus’ withdrawal from Galilee is the spectacular miracle of the transfiguration. Mount Tabor with no nearby hills from the Jezreel valley in the south of Galilee is the traditional site of the transfiguration, but with both the village and Roman fortress atop it in Jesus’ day, many scholars wonder whether it was a remote enough of a place to qualify for the miracle. Other scholars wonder if one should image instead Mount Hermon, the tallest mountain anywhere near Israel, just to the northeast of what probably were the borders of Galilee in the time of Christ. The question with this site in another time of the year with better weather is whether it would have been too remote and difficult and an unnecessary trek for the events that happened. Other suggestions, most noticeably, Walter Wyfelts compromise of Mount Marian, the tallest peak within Galilee, though not nearly as well known. It is closer to Mt Hermon than Tabor.