Greetings from the Holy Land! One thing I have learned in the few days that we have been here is that jet lag is real – I’m a believer! It is Sunday morning in Tiberiasand I am just now getting adjusted to the time. We are seven hours ahead of Warner Robins here in Israel. But what a small adjustment to make for a remarkable experience. We have visited so many places in the first few days, and today we leave for Jerusalem and Bethlehem. There are so many things to share, that I will need to continue after I get home to share it all.
Today, I’d like to share with you the place that had the most impact on me so far. We visited the shores of the Sea of Galilee yesterday, at the traditional place where Jesus shared breakfast with the disciples after his resurrection. This is also the place where Jesus asked Peter, “Do you love me?” This is one of my favorite passages in the Gospels, especially because of the nuances dealing with the question, “Do you love me.” Jesus uses the word agape to question Peter the first two times, while Peter responds with philos. Agape is the love of choice and dedication, whereas philos is the love of affinity and preference (love vs. like).
There is a small church built around the bedrock that is known as the Table of Christ, the rock that is traditionally thought of as the actual place where Jesus shared that meal with the disciples. I am a huge fan of stone structures, and so this chapel was especially meaningful and beautiful. Also, getting to dip my toes in the Sea of Galilee was special (I am a water person, too) – especially thinking about how the disciples, and even Jesus himself, dipped their toes in the same water. It reminds me of our baptism – one baptism for all people – as we “dip” our whole selves into the water of Jesus and the kingdom of God.
I have felt the presence of the Holy Spirit everywhere here, but especially in this place. God is asking us all, “Do you love me?” Is our answer one in which we pledge to follow Jesus if it works out for us, if we continue to like the way things are going? Or are we willing to give the answer of our whole lives, diving into the waters of Christ’s baptism headfirst? Remember that Jesus is inviting you to the table of agape love. Come and feast in his loving presence!