Early this morning we said goodbye to Nazareth and began our exciting journey to our new home on the Sea of Galilee. However, we had a few stops to make on our way. First on the list was the port city of Akko. Earlier in the pilgrimage we had seen the Mediterranean Sea from Haifa and Mt. Carmel. Akko is located on the northern end of the Bay of Haifa, so this was familiar territory. Akko has a long history, including a stop by St. Paul in the Acts of the Apostles. However, Akko is most known as being the stronghold of the Crusader kingdom for many years. Most of the ruins we saw were from this time frame. As recently as the 1950’s they were making some repairs to the floor of a hospital that was caving in and discovered that there was an open area underneath. This turned out to be the Crusader city of Akko. They are still excavating it, but the current ruins are very interesting. You can almost picture the 6000 knights that would have lived here. This wasn’t a particular biblical site, but I did learn that when the port of Caesarea which we visited previously became unusable, Akko replaced it as the major port in the Holy Land. My favorite part was just enjoying the beautiful Mediterranean Sea.
From Akko we went on to a very biblical site, the ancient ruins of Chorazin. There are some ruins here from a 1st century synagogue that are very interesting. Perhaps you recall the words of Jesus, “Woe to you, Chorazin! woe to you, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes” (Luke 10:13). As I walked through the ruins I contemplated the mighty deeds Jesus would have worked here. What were they? We don’t know. We do know that most of the people of Chorazin failed to follow Jesus. Now all of history remembers these ruins only for this sad fact. Sometimes we think that it would have been easier to believe in Jesus if we had been physically with him in the first century. The ruins of Chorazin are a reminder that even those who saw the many miracles Jesus worked still struggled and most rejected him. We need to constantly be thankful for the gift of faith we have received through the Holy Spirit.
As we left Chorazin I got my first look at the Sea of Galilee. We rounded the northern edge and made our way to a city on the East bank called Kursi. This is the site where Jesus healed a man possessed by demons and cast the demons into a herd of pigs which than ran into the sea (Luke 8:26-33). The main feature at this site was the cliff where the biblical event was supposed to have taken place and also the ruins of a 4th century church. They only recently discovered the ruins of this church. I tried to picture Jesus and the crowed that would have followed him to this place. The Sea of Galilee is right at the base of the hills and I could almost see some pigs charging down into the sea.
From Kursi we drove around the northern edge of the sea to our new home on the northwest side. This is a wonderful pilgrim house (more like a hotel in some respects) that is right on the sea. I could hear the waves crashing as we arrived. It was getting dark, so I have to wait for tomorrow. It’s nice and peaceful here and I think I will enjoy the next 4 days.