Sights and Insights: Seeing beauty that illustrates truth

Dr. Wayne Stiles says that the Mount of Beatitudes offers more than a beautiful view; it offers a place to consider truth.

Mt of Beatitudes (photo credit:
Mt of Beatitudes
(photo credit:
Wayne Stiles is an author who has never recovered from his travels in Israel-and loves to write about them from his desk in Texas.
The hills surrounding the Sea of Galilee frame the lake like a portrait.
In spring, the hillsides burst with wildflowers, fresh grass, and spectacular color. The tranquil slopes tower above fruit crops and fertile fields that stretch across the lush Plain of Gennesaret. Regardless of how often I visit the Kinneret, and no matter where I stand to view the picture, the subject seems to be smiling. The view never gets old.
Numerous places around the lake offer splendid panoramas. The best view, by far, is atop Mount Arbel. Windy and requiring a walk, the vast landscape stuns every first-timer. Another grand vista is the view from Kfar Haruv on the eastern side—I can see the whole lake from tip to tip. Impressive, for sure.
But the picturesque view from the Mount of Beatitudes offers visitors more than simply something to see. Along the northwestern shoreline, the ruins from a small, fourth-century chapel cover a rock-cut cistern. Called the Church of the Sermon on the Mount, its deteriorated crumblings lay to the north of a small monastery.
Photo: BiblePlaces.comPhoto:
At the top of the slope, once called Mount Eremos, a modern church towers over the crumbling one it has replaced below. Driving up the incline requires a few hairpin turns that snake back and forth beside the valley. Once on top, the road curves east and rewards the traveler with a marvelous view of the church that gazes out over thirteen miles of water.
Franciscan sisters built the beautiful chapel in 1938 with the support of Mussolini. Designed by Antonio Barluzzi, the church supports a cross with a stained dome that towers over its structure made of gray cinderblocks. The building’s eight sides commemorate the eight “beatitudes” that began Jesus’ celebrated sermon on the mount (Matthew 5:3-10). The Mount of Beatitudes marks the traditional location of the sermon.
Thick Saint Augustine grass spreads out below numerous palm trees and surrounds colorful flowerbeds. Tidy gardens descend to a small, covered, semicircular sitting area that overlooks the lake. It’s a great place to sit, read, pray—or just enjoy the view. The hillside below the church would have provided plenty of space for a large crowd. And the view? Stunning. In fact, Jesus drew upon the splendor of the verdant slopes to illustrate a point in his sermon: “Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will he not much more clothe you?” (Matthew 6:28–31).
No doubt, the view from the Mount of Beatitudes provides a beautiful portrait of the Sea of Galilee. But it offers even more. The lovely surroundings afford each visitor a tranquil place to meditate on the truths that were taught there. Away from the noise of traffic and the distractions of everyday life, there is still the beauty that illustrates truth. More than simply a picturesque view of the lake, the place offers a perspective on living. That’s seeing a lot further than thirteen miles.
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What to Do There:Stroll through the gardens, and take time to smell the roses (literally). Walk down to the sitting area and gaze out across the lake for as long as you can. Read Matthew chapters 5-7. How to Get There: From Tiberias, take Route 90 north and continue past the Kfar Nahum Junction. Turn right on 8177 to the church.
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