I sat on the shores of the Sea of Galilee and I thought, Wow. You were looking at this. It was breathtaking. Heart-stopping. I always pictured most of the Bible stories, including the teachings Jesus gave and the gatherings that were written about, as taking place in this sandy, dry desert. We walked through the ruins of Capernaum where he lived, and up one of the hills close by, believed to be where he gave the famous “Sermon on the Mount,” and we were surrounded by beauty. The Sea stretched out before us, pushing against majestic mountains on all sides. Birds sang in the nearby trees and the wind rustled the leaves. The sense of peace was captivating.
Earlier that day, I had looked down at my feet by the water washing gently over stones along the shore and thought about him sitting there after the resurrection, making a little camp fire, leaning on one knee and looking out at a small fishing boat full of his friends. Waiting for them to see him. Waiting for them to come in and share a meal. I could hear the water splash as Peter dove off the side of the boat to swim toward him, too desperate to wait for the boat to row ashore.
I was astounded at how human he made himself. How greatly he shrank to walk among us. To face our fears along side of us. How he lay down his power and stepped off his throne so he too could share in our joy and in our suffering. So that we could come to an almighty and all-consuming God and know that, when he looks at us, he knows. He’s felt it. And not just the sorrow, but the life that’s all around us. He’s breathed in this sun-kissed air and put his feet in this cool water. He’s sat on this ground and laughed at our jokes. He’s looked across the sea at the opening into the Jordan and toward Jerusalem, knowing what would unfold there.
We walked down the steep slope from the Mount of Olives toward Gethsemane. We entered the garden and touched the bark of two-thousand year old olive trees and I thought, you saw him here. You heard his sobbing. You saw the Creator afraid. I reached down and picked up a stone and a dried-out olive and put them in my pocket.
I sat at the base of a grizzly looking old tree, with a thick trunk and broken branches. I rested my back on this living and ancient creation and closed my eyes. I could hear the sound of his voice cracking, asking Papa, Is there any other way? and I thought, he didn’t know if he could do it. He didn’t know if he could see this through. And I prayed for him. I prayed to our heavenly daddy, who lives outside of time and sees the beginning from the end all at once, and I asked him, Father, let him see us somehow. As he cries out to you for strength, let him see us here today, seeking after him. Touching these trees, longing for him. Let him hear our songs, feel our praise. Let him know that it will work! That it will be worth it. That we, this joy set before him, are here and that we are longing for him.
We visited an age-old garden with a tomb carved into the side of a rock that looked like a skull. We sat in silence amongst the trees and I thought about Mary, crying and asking the gardener, Where have they taken my Yeshua? And he answered by only saying her name. Mary. And she knew. It was he, the one who had changed everything for all time.
I stood in the empty tomb with the words etched above it’s door, He is not here, he is risen. And I felt the weight and the the suffering and the immense joy at what he had done here. For all of us—and for me.
My friend, Jeannine, reminded me of one of my favourite verses this morning:
Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.
Surely, he has found me. He has found all of us. He has stopped at nothing. He will dive even into the depths of hell to find us. His love is more powerful than the ocean’s tide and he won’t stop. He won’t give up. Oh, how he has loved us.