Summary: Although Jerusalem was the center of worship for Israel, Capernaum was the center of Jesus' ministry. This 4th of my talks on my trip to Israel focuses on the contrast between what Jesus did in Jerusalem and what He did in Capernaum for His 1st two yrs

(Opened with a video of me singing “Amazing Grace” at St. Anne Cathedral in Jerusalem)

What we’re going to do tonight is visit two cities in Israel – Jerusalem and Capernaum. What you just saw was my singing “Amazing Grace” at St. Anne’s Cathedral in Jerusalem. And we’ll talk more about that church in a few moments.

As I was preparing tonight’s lesson there was something that caught my attention. I noticed that Matthew Mark and Luke paid virtually no attention to Jerusalem for the first 2 years of Jesus’ ministry. It isn’t until the last week of His life before His crucifixion that Jerusalem gets any focus in their Gospels.

Most of what we know of Jesus’ ministry in Jerusalem during those first 2 years comes from the book of John… and even then there’s very little focus on things that Jesus DID. Most of what John focuses on are the things that Jesus taught.

It’s in the book of John that we read these statements Jesus made in Jerusalem:

I am the bread of life (John 6:35)

I am the light of the world (John 8:12)

Before Abraham was I am (John 8:58)

I am the gate for the sheep (John 10:7)

I am the good shepherd (John 10:11)

I and the Father are one (John 10:30)

I am God’s Son (John 10:36)

I am the resurrection and the life. (John 11:25)

The way the truth and the life (John 14:6)

I am the vine, you are the branches (John 15:5)

Unless you believe that I am, you will die in your sins (John 8:24)

And most of these statements are meant to goad the leadership in Jerusalem to oppose Him because of His overt claims. It’s kind of like what happens at a bull fight. The toreador will gore the bull with sharp sticks in order to madden the bull and make him angry enough to fight. From the very beginning of Jesus’ teaching in Jerusalem that’s His objective: to draw the religious leaders into opposition that will ultimately lead to the crucifixion 3 years later.

But there are at least 3 incidents that occur in Jerusalem during the first year of Jesus ministry: He meets with Nicodemus, He clears out the temple, and he heals the man at the pool of Bethsaida.

(Showed two artists’ renderings of what Jerusalem would have looked like in the days of Jesus)

These are artists’ renderings of how Jerusalem may have looked in the days of Jesus. In the first of these you see how the city was laid out (I pointed out some interesting highlights). In the 2nd you’ll notice that the Temple (the white building at top center) dominates the city and Jerusalem is teaming with life.

(Showed two graphic of the “Pool at Bethsaida”)

This first slide shows a scale model of the temple area in days of Jesus. The two pools of Bethsaida are highlighted with a pink roof line. The 2nd slide is a movie still that depicts the event in question.

(Showed a few slides of St. Anne’s Cathedral)

This first slide shows the Priest who oversaw the Cathedral at St. Anne’s. He was a very friendly and funny man. When our tour leader (having asked me to sing there) asked the priest if we could sing there, the priest replied “I don’t know… can you?” After I began to sing Amazing Grace, this priest graciously handed me a sheet of paper with the words written on it (apparently this is one of the songs visitors often sing there).

(Slides of the present day pool of Bethesda)

As you can see, the archeological dig is much deeper in the ground than the original pool would have been. Over the centuries layers of soil have covered the site and so the pool is much deeper into the ground than it would have been in Jesus’ day.

(Slides of stairs going down to Crusader age cistern and pictures of the cistern)

Often I like to go “walk-about” - and when I saw this set of stairs leading down into the ground, I just couldn’t help myself. No one knew I’d gone down there… so if something had happened to me, I might still be down there to this day. Fortunately the destination of the stairs was innocent enough – a cistern dug in the days of the Crusaders to supply water in case there was a siege of the city.

Jesus visited this pool in His first year of ministry for a specific purpose. The mythology of the day was that when the water was “troubled”, the first person who stepped into the pool would be healed. Of course, that wasn’t true, but it was so strongly believed by people that the disabled would camp out at the pool in the hopes of being first to step in and be cured.

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