Ed receives coveted “Tourist of the Year” award. Out of a sincere humility, Ed has asked that I keep his identity a secret, so I will honor Mr. Kobel’s request. This guy has achieved so much in his lifetime, and his most recent honor of Tourist of the Year will be quite an addition to his trophy cabinet.
This anonymous “Ed” attempted to order his meal in Hebrew while we were out for lunch. Rather than receiving two sandwiches – one for him and one for “Becky” as we will call her – I think he ended up with somewhere around 8 sandwiches.
The title of “Tourist of the Year” was graciously bestowed upon “Ed” by the many of us who partook of his misfortune around the lunch table.
Interestingly, tomorrow our tour takes us to the place where Jesus fed the 5,000. Thanks, Ed, for being a miracle worker and feeding our group today at lunch. After everyone had eaten until they were full, we gathered up the remaining sandwiches while Ed sent the crowds away and ascended the nearby mountain in a bus.
Earlier in the day, and on a more serious note, we visited Caesarea Phillipi (not to be confused with the Caeserea by the sea where we were yesterday). Jesus was there and you can read about it in Matthew 16. Jesus asked the disciples, “Who do you say that I am?”
I spent most of the day thinking about how I would answer that question. Before I share how my perception of Christ has changed in the past couple days, how would you answer that question? Is there a visual image of Jesus that instantly comes to mind when you consider answering questions surrounding Jesus’ identity?
The visual image of Jesus that has dominated my imagination since childhood is what I call the “Vacation Bible School Jesus.” He’s a pasty white guy, with thin and frail features. Dare I say it, but most of the classic Jesus images that come to my mind are actually kind of effeminate.
I’ve spent the last two days walking around a few of the places that Jesus grew up and lived. I gotta tell you: this land is not for the faint of heart. Wimpy guys don’t survive in these conditions. To repeat, I’ve only been in Israel for two full days now, and the places I’ve visited are, I’m told, not even the harsh regions of this country. Later this week we head to the southern, desert-dominated areas of Israel. I mention this to say that even the “pleasant” areas require a resilient and determined person to survive, especially thrive.
Back to the Matthew 16 passage… The reply before Peter’s confession of Jesus as the Christ is interesting to me. “Some say that you are Elijah. Others say you are John the Baptist.”
These two guys – Elijah and John the Baptizer – are some pretty hairy dudes. I don’t know that to be true literally – although it was quite possible – but these were two men who lived wild, untamed, and fairly eccentric lives. John the Baptist was described as a wilderness preacher who would never have been labeled as “metro-sexual.” He eventually lost his head, and I don’t mean he “lost his cool.” Elijah’s world came to life in new ways to me yesterday as we ascended Mount Carmel, the location of his humiliating defeat of the 450 prophets of Ba’al. Oh, and then Elijah sprinted a half-marathon ahead of some horses and chariots, outrunning a coming storm.
These are the two men that Jesus reminded people of. I’m guessing they mistook Jesus to be these guys because Jesus, too, was a wild, untamed character. In other words, Jesus couldn’t have been frail little VBS Jesus.
That’s all I’ve got to say for tonight. I need to get my beauty sleep. My busy day tomorrow begins with waking in time to exfoliate before I shave. Then I will take the elevator down to my buffet breakfast where several waiters will offer me cold water and hot coffee in addition to tables of food that I neither had to hunt, grow, nor cook. Then it’s off to my air-conditioned charter bus in pursuit of more info about this Jesus who was fully God, and I’m convinced as never before, was fully a MAN.