Monthly Archives: May 2015

Pentecost in Jerusalem

Last evening at sundown the Jews began to celebrate their modern interpretation of  Pentecost (Shavu’ot). Christians know this from the Old Testament scriptures as the feast of weeks (Leviticus 23:15; Deuteronomy 16:9). Last evening we saw many Jews heading for the Western Wall through the Damascus Gate when we were there. The Orthodox Jews were the easiest to detect because of their distinctive dress.

Pentecost comes 50 days after Passover. It follows a sabbath and amounts to a two-day holiday here in Jerusalem. Those who are not religious may be seen at recreational places enjoying the time off as many persons in America do on any holiday. Some of the religious take the family to a hotel and allow non-Jews to serve them the food they wish. The hotel has a Shabbat elevator. You only make the mistake of getting on it once. It requires no work (= pushing the button for your floor), but it takes a long time to get where you are going. The elevator is programmed to stop at each floor. I don’t recall seeing anyone using the one in our hotel.

Back to more important issues. The church had its beginning with the preaching of the gospel in its fullness on the first Pentecost after the resurrection of Christ (Acts 2).

Model of Herod's Temple now displayed on the grounds of the Israel Museum. It was in this large area where the gospel of Christ was first preached in its fullness by Peter and the other Apostles on the first Pentecost after the resurrection of Christ. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Model of Herod’s Temple now displayed on the grounds of the Israel Museum. It was in this large area where the gospel of Christ was first preached in its fullness by Peter and the other Apostles on the first Pentecost after the resurrection of Christ. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Apostle Paul, through his teaching and example, taught the early Christians to take their collection and to observe the Lord’s Supper on the first day of the week (1 Corinthians 16:1-2; Acts 20:7). On the return from his third preaching journey he hurried to be at Jerusalem for Pentecost.

For Paul had decided to sail past Ephesus, so that he might not have to spend time in Asia, for he was hastening to be at Jerusalem, if possible, on the day of Pentecost. (Acts 20:16 ESV)

I did not specifically pick the time of Pentecost to be in Jerusalem; it just happened to coincide with my travel schedule. It would be wonderful to see the gospel freely preached again in this city as it was on that first Pentecost after the death and resurrection of Jesus nearly two thousand years ago.

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Damascus Gate in Jerusalem

After dinner this evening we went to Damascus Gate to try our hand at some night shots of the Gate. Here is one of my resultant photos.

Damascus Gate at Night. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Damascus Gate at Night. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Damascus Gate is the main one of three gates on the north side of the Old City wall in Jerusalem. The gate we see was built over a gate from the early second century when the city was rebuilt by the Romans, and likely over the earlier gate from New Testament times.

The gate is called Damascus because this formerly was the way one would depart Jerusalem to head for the city of Damascus. Paul may have used an earlier gate when he made his way to Damascus to locate and bind followers of Christ and bring them to Jerusalem for trial (Acts 9, 22, 26).

The weather was pleasantly cool this evening. Earlier in the week in Tiberias we found the 104° to be uncomfortable.

He’s just a carpenter

Jesus is called a carpenter in Mark 6:3. In Matthew’s account He is called the carpenter’s son. The study note in the NET Bible suggests that this was probably a derogatory term. Those who used the term thought of Him as “a common laborer like themselves.”

Lane says the term carpenter (Greek tekton) “commonly designates a worker in any hard material: wood, metal or stone, and so comes to mean a builder.”

Louw-Nida says,

There is every reason to believe that in biblical times one who was regarded as a tekton would be skilled in the use of wood and stone and possibly even metal.

A carpenter’s shop is exhibited at Nazareth Village. It is correct in showing tools for stone cutting as well as wood working.

A carpenter's shop at Nazareth Village, showing woodwork and stone work. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

A carpenter’s shop at Nazareth Village, showing wood work and stone work. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

This post is about what the term carpenter implies, but we concur with Josh McDowell that He is More Than A Carpenter.

Jesus visited His hometown

Early in His ministry Jesus left Nazareth and made Capernaum his base of operation. From there He went all over Galilee and as far away as Tyre and Sidon and the Decapolis.

In the course of time Jesus returned to His hometown. Here is the  account of the events associated with that visit as recorded in the Gospel of Mark.

He went away from there and came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him. And on the Sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished, saying, “Where did this man get these things? What is the wisdom given to him? How are such mighty works done by his hands? Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. And Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor, except in his hometown and among his relatives and in his own household.” And he could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them. And he marveled because of their unbelief. And he went about among the villages teaching.  (Mark 6:1-6)

We often hear the expression, “You can never go home again.” We see this played out in many ways. The college student who has enjoyed the freedom of being away from home seldom feels comfortable back in the family basement.

Jesus’ expression is also  commonly repeated.  “A prophet is not without honor, except in his hometown and among his relatives and in his own household.”

The familiarity with Jesus in His pre-ministry years, knowledge of his work as a carpenter, and his family, caused the residents of Nazareth to reject Him.

Our photo shows the interior of the synagogue at Nazareth Village. Perhaps the synagogue of Jesus’ time looked somewhat like this.

The Synagogue at Nazareth Village. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Synagogue at Nazareth Village. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

While we may not be able to return to the place where we grew up, we are always welcomed into the presence of the heavenly father.

Jesus taught in the synagogue at Capernaum

The gospel of Mark mentions Jesus teaching and performing miracles in the synagogue at Capernaum.

  • He taught in the synagogue and performed a miracle there (Mark 1:21-29)
  • He healed a man with a withered hand (Mark 3:1-5)
  • Jairus, one of the rulers of the synagogue, implored Jesus to make his daughter well. Jesus raised the young girl from the dead (Mark 5:22-43)

A synagogue has been partially reconstructed from the archaeological ruins at Capernaum. Scholars differ on the age of the synagogue with opinions ranging from the late second century to the fifth century. Italian archaeologists who excavated the site in 1981 say the synagogue dates to the Byzantine period (late fourth or early fifth century). Israeli scholars tend to place the synagogue in the second/third century.

The Italians think they have found the basalt ruins of the first century synagogue under the floor of the fourth/fifth century one. You can see part of that black basalt foundation to the left of the steps. They believe that this earlier synagogue is the one built by the Roman centurion (Luke 5:1-5).

The reconstructed synagogue at Capernaum. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The reconstructed synagogue at Capernaum. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Our photo below shows a closer view of the basalt foundation.

The black basalt foundation is visible under the white limestone building. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The black basalt foundation is visible under the white limestone building. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Several articles about the Capernaum synagogue are available in Biblical Archaeology Review (1982 and 1983).