Lecture 22: Jesus' Early Galilean Ministry - Part 4
(This is a series of tourist slides of Israel by Craig Blomberg; the lecture is classed as a short supplement)
First, Cana is one of the places that has been disputed in terms of its exact location, However, the most probable area is a tile reflected in a place (a hill) that is yet to be excavated. In John 2, after the turning of the water into wine, Jesus goes to Jerusalem where he clears the Temple and then heads back north through Samaria where he has the encounter with the woman at the well. This happens just after his night time dialogue with Nicodemus. The gate coming out of the old wall in Jerusalem, to this day bears the name, the Damascus Gate. The location of the ancient road that heads north out of Jerusalem toward Damascus, first through Samaria and then Galilee; pilgrims, to this day, stream in and out of it. The street inside the Damascus Gate with the traditional custom of bartering at open air shops are still there, even after centuries.
There is a small group, numbering only in the hundreds of people living in the West Bank that trace their ancestry back to Samaria and to Samaritans. Here are two dressed in festive garments holding up a unique version of the Samaritan Torah at Passover. It is several hundred feet higher than it would have been in the ancient world and is enclosed by an ornate shrine. The place for Jacob’s well, near Sychar is one that many archaeologists think is authentic. At the end of Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman; as the disciples returned, he exclaimed how the fields were white for harvest. Perhaps thinking of the whitest colored wheat fields in that vicinity, but of course referring to the potential harvest of souls in Samaria. And then as we move to the Sermon on the Mount, there is the beautiful Franciscan Church of the Beatitudes at the traditional cite on northwestern shore of the Sea of Galilee. Though, there is insufficient information as to where in the Galilean hill country Jesus spoke. As one goes out into the area of the chapel from the previous slide, one can see this large plateau like grassy area in the middle of the slide where huge crowds could gather and a speaker who could project their voice well and still be heard today by large numbers of people.
The Sea of Galilee in the background masks another slope from that plateau down to sea level. Here is a view of Bethsaida, north to the Sea of Galilee. Another key location and fishing village that figures in Jesus’ great Galilean ministry in more than one Gospel reference. Hippos and its ruins is one of the ten cities of Decapolis, located to the east of the Sea of Galilee. And visible from just about any place, Jesus may have given the Sermon on the Mount near here. He may have had it in mind when he said that a city on a hill cannot be hidden. And then Jesus’ sermon ends with that famous contrast parable of the two builders, those men who respectable built their homes on either rock or sand. One wonders if Christ might have had in mind the frequent wadies that punctuated the Israelite landscape, especially flowing into the Jordan River. This is perhaps the most dramatic of them, Wadi Kap, further to the south; roughly parallel with the road to Jerusalem from Jericho, can in drought times contain a small amount of water. But after the rains the rush of water increases and thus people can easily find their lives in peril. After a particularly wet winter, people would have to wade through the water, eagerly helped by young local boys who then ask for shekel from the tourist in return for their unsolicited help. But on the rocky walled sides of this same wadi appear St George’s Greek Orthodox Monastery, going all the way back to the middle of the first millennium AD, still functioning with a staff of Orthodox Monks and residents representing a dramatically contrast. Something, along the lines that Jesus could have had in mind as he told the parallel of the two builders in the story of the man who built his house on the rock or in Luke contemporary version with a deep foundation.