Pilgrimage to Israel #2
Having spent some time in and around the sea of Galilee, the next step of our pilgrimage took us to the Mount of Beatitudes. This is the mountain where Jesus taught his sermon, and included the eight the attitudes in the eight blessings that he spoke.
You can find these in Matthew five.
Seeing the multitudes, he went up onto the mountain. When he had sat down, his disciples came to him. 2 He opened his mouth and taught them, saying,
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.Isaiah 57:15; 66:2
4 Blessed are those who mourn,
for they shall be comforted.Isaiah 61:2; 66:10,13
5 Blessed are the gentle,
for they shall inherit the earth.[a] Psalm 37:11
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they shall be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful,
for they shall obtain mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they shall see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they shall be called children of God.
10 Blessed are those who have been persecuted for righteousness’ sake,
for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when people reproach you, persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, for my sake. 12 Rejoice, and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven. For that is how they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Matthew 5:1-12 (WEB)
The church of the Beatitudes sits atop a hill, sloping down to the shores of the sea of Galilee. As Jesus preached his sermon on the Mount, we were told He would likely have sat in a boat on the water, with the crowds gathered on the hillside. He would have projected His voice up the hill and it would have acted much like a stadium, allowing the vast numbers of people to hear His blessed words.
The text of the Bible (above) slightly contradicts this however. It states that Jesus would have been on the hillside, likely up high, and the crowds gathered beneath Him. In a similar way, He could have projected His voice downwards enabling all to hear.
Jesus opens his sermon with these eight blessings. I love the sermon on the Mount, but I must confess to struggling with some of these blessings. The meaning can be hard to grasp at times, and living them out can be even more difficult.
What does it mean, for instance, to be poor in spirit? Likewise, how can any of us hope to be pure?
Yet Jesus pronounces special blessings on those who attain these things. The purpose of my post today is not to teach on the Beatitudes, but I can’t help but pause here for a moment to think about the depth of their meaning.
Do you hunger and thirst for righteousness – moral uprightness and to be in right standing with God?
Are you a peacemaker? Are you there, in the midst of conflict, mediating and offering soothing words? How difficult it is to give a soft answer at times, and yet we know a soft answer turns away wrath – Proverbs 15.
Anyway, back to the blog already in progress… you remember, the one about the place – Mount of Beatitudes!
The chapel is beautiful. There is a real sense of peace here. The building is octagonal in shape; one side for each of the eight blessings.
One of the most notable things about this place are the acoustics of the church. As our group moved quietly around, a few of our number with wonderful voices began to sing. If just a few voices can make such a wonderfully uplifting noise, then what must a whole host of angels sound like? I don’t recall even which song was sung, but I just remember the atmosphere as the harmonies surrounded us.
The gardens surrounding the church are not large, but they are well kept and offer wonderful views of the Sea of Galilee. As you walk around the paths, there are signs displaying the text of each of the beatitudes. Time did not allow us to linger there for too long, but I can imagine it being a wonderful place to just walk around and slowly pray through each blessing in turn.
In that peaceful place, it is easy to forget the troubles that still face the land of Israel today. While the Bible teaches that there will be troubled times in Israel and across the world during the latter days, we know that the Prince of peace will one-day put everything right. We may be persecuted, as the blessing tells us, for His name’s sake, but our trouble on earth is but a wisp in comparison to eternity.
Blessed indeed are the peacemakers, and blessed may you be today and every day that you seek to follow Christ.