On our first day of sightseeing, we visited Caesarea (by the Mediterranean Sea, not Caesarea Phillipi). This area was a total surprise to me! I mentioned before that I had never really thought much about Israel at all, and even with allllll that my kids and I learned about the Roman Empire during our years of homeschooling, I had never thought about Israel having Roman ruins. I’m telling you, this trip took a lot of things that I’ve learned over the years and wove them all together right in front of my eyes!
The largest feature of the park was the amphitheater. It’s been updated for modern use, but the bones of the theater date back to Roman rule. It overlooks the absolutely stunning Mediterranean Sea.
Here are just a few of the MANY interesting facts about Caesarea:
Herod the Great’s summer palace was here.
This was the capital of the Roman government in this area for 500 years.
Roman procurators, including Pontius Pilate, lived here. He governed Judea during the time of Jesus.
Herod Agrippa died here. (He was eaten by worms. See Acts 12:19-23.)
Archeologists found a stone here that bears the names of Emperor Tiberius and Pontius Pilate. That’s a really big deal since it’s the only archeological proof of Pilate’s existence.
Thousands of spectators watched chariot races in the hippodrome.
Here are my two favorite things about Caesarea!
Paul was likely imprisoned here for a couple of years. Remember, Paul was a Jew, a Pharisee, AND a Roman citizen. He was brought from Jerusalem to Caesarea after a group of Jews plotted to ambush him and kill him. Oh, and he was accompanied by 200 soldiers, 70 horsemen, and 200 spearmen! It’s a crazy story! Read Acts 21-24 for this part of Paul’s story. It reads like an action movie! (Also, I do hope Paul was able to enjoy views of the Med during his stay!)
And now for Cornelius! (I love this story!) Cornelius was a Roman centurion stationed at Caesarea. He was a Gentile. And get this! He loved God, prayed to Him regularly, and gave generously to the poor! God sent an angel to Cornelius and told him to send for a guy named Peter who was in Joppa. (Also called Jaffa, a port city and the oldest part of modern-day Tel Aviv, just south of Caesarea.) In the meantime, God revealed some things to Peter, and then Peter, a Jew, went to the home of Cornelius, a Gentile. WHAT?!?
Cornelius had gathered his friends and relatives at his house, waiting for Peter to get there. Peter showed up, and Cornelius said, “I sent for you, and it was good of you to come. Now we are all here, waiting before God to hear the message the Lord has given you.” I love how excited Cornelius and Co. are! How eager they are to hear what the Lord has to say to them!
Spoiler alert! Here’s the Good News: God shows no favoritism between, Jew and Gentile or anything else. We can have peace with God through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all!
I’d love for you to read this story for yourself! It’s in Acts 10. Click HERE to read it.
That scratches the surface of beautiful Caesarea! I’m having a blast researching and learning more about all that we saw! Do you have questions? Comments? Did any of this surprise you?!? Please let me know in the comments section below.
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