His Special Delight
Describing the Sea of Galilee, the Rabbis say, “Although God has created seven seas, yet He has chosen this one as His special delight.” Set in the hills of northern Israel, the harp-shaped Sea of Galilee, a significant Biblical and scenic area, will delight you with an overpowering sense of peace as you wade in the same water that Jesus walked on. Enjoying four nights on these shores, rising to four beautiful morning sunrises over the Golan Heights and spending our days traveling to the identical places that Jesus traveled during His ministry, we will know we are in the only place on earth that Jesus actually walked. Although, He walked – we will bus!
Old Testament Kinneret
The Jordan River, rainfall and natural springs on its northern side feed the Sea of Galilee. The Sea, more precisely designated a lake and called the Kinneret during OT times, is 13 miles long and 7 miles wide. 150 feet at its deepest point, and resting 700 feet below sea level, the Sea of Galilee is the second lowest lake in the world (the Dead Sea which we will visit later is the lowest!). The waters of Lake Tiberias, another name for the Sea of Galilee, are crystal clear and chilly. They teem with countless varieties of fish, notably sardines and tilapia, commercially caught on the same scale today as in the time of Jesus. In fact, John writes that the disciples were able to net 153 fish during one night of fishing!
At night, the best time to fish, the splashing of hundreds of fish jumping out of the water breaks the quiet tranquility of the sea. This serene calm can quickly become transformed by violent storms as winds funnel through the east-west aligned Galilee hill country and quickly stir up the lake. The most violent winds come from the hills of the Golan Heights to the east and trapped by the Galilee basin, the winds can be deadly to fishermen as they cause surprisingly furious storms to appear as quickly as they did in Jesus’ day.
Jesus’ Ministry Here
On these beautiful shores, Jesus ministered to His followers, delivered sermons and performed miracles. Located around the lake, we find numerous Biblical sites, including the city of Capernaum where Jesus called home, the natural amphitheatre where Jesus gave the Sermon on the Mount, and Tabgha, believed to be the site where Jesus fed 5,000 followers from five loaves of bread and two fish. Adjacent to the lake, we also find the nearby town of Migdal, Mary Magdalene’s hometown, and Bethsaida the hometown of Andrew and his brother, Peter. Surprising to a lot of first-time visitors is the fact that from several points on its rocky shores, all other locations along the shoreline are visible. Around the sea, the hills of Galilee reach nearly 1,400 feet above sea level, and the mountains of the Golan Heights (the Decapolis in Jesus’ time) reach more than 2,500 feet above sea level.
On a stay at the Sea of Galilee the calm beauty of the lake and area stunned me. To see the same beautiful lake, walk the same shores that Jesus walked leaves you without words. The Gospel comes alive, when you see the actual places where Jesus stood on the shoreline, walked on the water, cooked for the disciples and began His world saving ministry.