The Sea of Galilee is one of the most central areas to the ministry of Yeshua during His life on Earth. Nearly 70% of Yeshua’s ministry took place near, beside, or even on top of (literally) this body of water.
What is the Sea of Galilee?
Firstly, the Sea of Galilee is the largest freshwater lake in all of Israel. And yes, it is a lake, even though the Gospels call it a sea. It is approximately 8 miles across and, in total, is about 64 square miles in size.
If you look at a picture of this lake on a map, it looks like a violin. Because of this, it earned its Hebrew name “Kinneret”, which means – you guessed it – a violin.
Kinneret sits around 700 feet below sea level. To the east of it lie the borders of modern-day Syria and Jordan. To its west is the region of the Galilee, which includes several cities you might recognize.
They are Cana, Megiddo, Magdala, Gennesaret, Capernaum, and Nazareth. In His childhood years, Yeshua would have been only about 20 miles west of the Sea of Galilee.
Kinneret Giving Life
The lake is part of the Jordan River. The Jordan flows into the northern part of the Sea of Galilee and flows out the southern tip of the sea. A popular analogy says, the Sea of Galilee is like a righteous man; because living water flows into it and living water flows out of it.In contrast, the Dead Sea is likened to an unrighteous man, because though freshwater flows into it, nothing flows out of it. It holds what it receives, and because of evaporation it makes the water undrinkable.
Yeshua (Jesus) and the Sea of Galilee
Judging by the amount of time He spent near it, Jesus must have really enjoyed spending time at the Kinneret. Surrounded by hills and mountains, its waters are often troubled by storms, which Jesus famously silenced.On the shores of the lake Jesus called His first disciples and performed miracles. Also here He often spoke of the Kingdom of God and fed thousands. By the lake Jesus shared His most recognized teaching, later named Sermon on the Mount.Do you want to learn more about the specific locations for these events? Then read on!
Yeshua’s Ministry by the Kinneret
Going through the Gospels, here are some of the landmark events of Yeshua’s ministry that happened near the Sea of Galilee:
Mt. of Beatitudes and Tabgha
This northern point of the sea is where Yeshua gave His most well-known teaching. It is commonly called the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). The Mount on the other hand takes its name from the blessings Yeshua listed at the beginning.
A site nearby called Tabgha commemorates Yeshua feeding the 5,000 (Mark 6). The church in Tabgha is famous for its mosaic near the altar of the bread and fish that Yeshua multiplied.
Also on the northern shore of the sea, Capernaum is the town where Yeshua called Peter and Andrew to be his disciples (Matthew 4). Many see this as the “home base” of Yeshua’s ministry.
Here Yeshua healed the servant of the Roman centurion (Matthew 8). And also where the paralytic was lowered from the roof and healed (Matthew 9).
Today’s Capernaum holds the remains of a synagogue that dates back to the days of Yeshua’s life on Earth. Its ruins could have been Peter’s home.
Located near the northeastern area of the sea, the place became known after Yeshua healed a man there who was born blind. Yeshua used His spittle and laid hands on him, giving him sight. This is the same man who first replied to Jesus that he saw men as trees walking. (Mark 8)
Kursi or Golan Heights
This vast, mountainous region is also northeast of the sea. As we read in the Gospels, this is where Jesus cast the legion of unclean spirits into a herd of swine. The pigs ran down the banks of the sea and drowned (Mark 5).
This city on the western border of the sea was the hometown of Mary. Known as Mary Magdalene (Mary of Magdala), she chose to follow Yeshua, after He cast out 7 unclean spirits out of her (Luke 8).
This unique cliff stands nearly 600 feet tall, overlooking the entire region of the Sea of Galilee. Many believe this is the most likely location of the Great Commission (Matthew 28). From this cliff you could see most of the areas where Yeshua’s ministry actually took place.
Slightly south of the Sea of Galilee, the sea drains and becomes the Jordan river again. It is today a site dedicated to Yeshua being baptized by His cousin, John the Baptist (John 1).
However, the actual event may have taken place much further south on the river. In any case, Yardenit gives visitors an opportunity to get baptized themselves.
The Lake Waters
It’s important to note that two miracles of Yeshua were performed while actually ON the sea. He calmed the storm after being woken up by His disciples in Mark 4, and He walked on water as described in Mark 6.
If you’ve ever wondered, “What is the most central location to Yeshua’s ministry?” Or, “Where should I do a daytrip in the land of Israel?”, we think the Sea of Galilee is the right answer!
Visiting Israel: In the Footsteps of Jesus: Free PDF Download
It is quite exciting to think that while touring Israel you are walking on the same land that Jesus did.
Whether it is the reason why you came to Israel or not, it is worth noting which locations were significant to His life and ministry. God chose this piece of land to send His Son to live on earth. Many archeological findings confirm the locations mentioned in the Bible.
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