I live amazed and free because of His grace…
Today was a first for us in Israel. We held our worship service in the village of Magdala. Mary Magdalene lived here. Jesus visited and taught often in the local synagogue. As I’ve said before, it’s overwhelming to teach and walk where Jesus did. As we walked into the seaside chapel, we sang, “Amazing Grace.” The acoustics are amazing. God always touches hearts when His people sing about grace.
Our message this morning was entitled, “Magdala: A Resident Who was Radically Changed.” The grace of God radically changed Mary Magdalene (Mark 16:9; Luke 8:2). How is God’s grace changing you? May you and I never get over how amazing His grace is! During our worship time, we prayed for people in our lives who need Jesus. As I was preaching today, a lady from the facility stood in the back and motioned that my time was over (smile). Thank Jesus I was almost finished. Worship this morning allowed us to start our day with a focus on the Lord.
Our journey took us to Bet She’an. A large theatre is located in this city. We sat in this massive structure and read 1 Samuel 31. The ruins at Bet She’an are numerous. We saw Roman baths, spas, and streets. This area impressed our group. It’s easy in Israel to get information overload.
On the bus, we discussed what the Jewish people expect in and from a Messiah. A foundational belief is that the Messiah would have power. The Jewish people have four expectations: (1) He is to cleanse the temple. Jesus fulfilled this expectation by overturning the tables of the money changers. (2) He is to lead the sons of Israel. Jesus fulfilled this expectation because He said, “My sheep know my voice, and they follow me” (John 10:27). (3) He is to bring the tribes together. Jesus fulfilled this expectation by spending time in Samaria and changing a woman’s life. (4) He is to crush the enemy of Israel. Jesus fulfilled this expectation by defeating Satan on the cross. It’s interesting, and burdening at the same time, that many Jewish people still don’t believe Jesus is the Messiah. In fact, a great number of Jewish people are waiting for the Messiah to appear. Thank the Lord that we know the Messiah has come and is coming again!
As we traveled from the Galilee area of the Holy Land to Jericho, the landscape changed. We went from lush, green vegetation to a desert view. We ate lunch in Jericho and toured areas that we read about in the Old and New Testaments. We had a lesson about the city of Jericho. We read Joshua 6:1-16. The Mount of Temptation is near Jericho. We met “Sam the Camel” at our stop. With that being said, no one volunteered (or paid) to ride Sam.
Our afternoon was dedicated to baptisms at the Jordan River. Our baptism service wasn’t about obedience; it was about identification. Believers wanted to be immersed in the area that Jesus was baptized in. We read Matthew 3:13-17. The Jordan River is small and dirty near Jericho. Water levels were much higher today because of recent heavy rains. It was a joy to stand in the water with fourteen members of tour group and hear them confess their love and devotion to their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I must say, this baptismal area is special, but can be chaotic. You see people from all walks of life, doing all sorts of things, and dressed all sorts of ways. I hope you enjoy today’s video footage of the baptismal service. As we finished our baptism service, we saw a white dove fly over. To God be the glory!
Following the many baptisms, we made our way to Herod’s Hotel at the Deas Sea. This is the first time we’ve stayed at this hotel. Our group had time to float in the Dead Sea. It’s an experience like no other. Believe me, you can’t drown.
Tomorrow is a special day for our group. We make our way up to Jerusalem. We’ll see the Holy City for the first time. We have a special experience planned for our group as we near Jerusalem.
Thank you for following our journey today!
His Grace is Sufficient,
2 Corinthians 12:7-10