Day 10 - Jesus' Retreats

Jesus lived his life with a very intentional rhythm of rest and work, what he called "abiding" and "bearing fruit." In addition to their daily and weekly rhythms of abiding, Jesus would occasionally take the disciples away to places where people would not recognize them, so they could rest and be open to fresh revelation from God. Today we said our goodbyes to the beautiful Sea of Galilee and headed further north to some of the places where Jesus took the disciples away on these abiding retreats. Our first stop was the Jewish Zealot town of Gamla, built on the steep sides of a dramatic promontory for extreme defensiblity. A strenuous hike took us down the steep ravine, across the saddle, and into the walled city which the Romans breached during the First Jewish Revolt. We visited the fantastic first-century synagogue there and envisioned again the settings where Jesus preached and healed so often on the Sabbath. From Gamla we drove through the dramatic Golan Heights to the northern tip of Israel where we visited the ruins of Caesarea Philippi with its complex of pagan temples built around the spring of the Jordan River. After a picnic lunch beside the flowing waters of the spring, we took a hike down into the canyon where we were rewarded with view of the most beautiful waterfall in the entire region. It was in this area that Jesus asked his disciples, "Who do you say that I am?", a question all of us would do well to ponder! Like Jesus, from there we "set our faces toward Jerusalem" and have now arrived back in the Old City where we have taken up residence once more at the cozy and picturesque Lutheran Guesthouse. Tomorrow we head to Bethany to retrace Jesus' triumphal entry to the city on Palm Sunday....

We looked down on the dramatic setting of the first-century Jewish town of Gamla which unsuccessfully tried to withstand the might of the Roman army, while deciding who would make the challenging hike down to visit the ancient site.

In Gamla we checked out yet another first-century "mikvah," the ubiquitous ritual baths that reflect an obsession with external purity.

The clear, cold, flowing waters of the Banias Spring comprise the source of the Jordan River and create a lush garden in an otherwise arid climate.

We explored the extensive remains of temples dedicated to the Roman god Pan and other pagan gods who were worship here at the cave where the spring of the Jordan River flows. Jesus and his followers probably would not have visited this hotbed of pagan revelry. 

We enjoyed a delicious picnic lunch next to the lush gardens that grow around the flowing waters of the Banias Spring.

After waiting out a rare thunderstorm in our vans, we braved slippery rocks and mud to visit this gorgeous waterfall in the area where Jesus gave Peter his name and promised to use living stones like us to build his church.

A three hour drive brought us back to the Old City of Jerusalem where we will finish our journey by tracing the tumultuous events of Jesus' final week.