Without a doubt, one of the most enchanting and meaningful places to visit on a trip to the Holy Land is the Sea of Galilee.
This majestic 13 mile stretch of fresh water, fed by the Jordan River on the north end (near Bethsaida, house of fish) from snow melting on Mount Hermon, gives its life giving water back to the River Jordan on the south end where it exits, appropriately at the Yardenit baptismal center. The Sea of Galilee has great appeal to the pilgrim because almost 85% of Jesus’ ministry took place on or around its shores.
From the calling of the fishermen disciples to leave their nets and become “fishers of men”, until the early morning resurrection appearance around a breakfast fire where still today a rock, that could have been used as a table to serve the grilled fish (Mesa Christi), can be seen in the chapel.
Add to this the stilling of the storm, walking on the water, miraculous catch of fish, Peter’s cry for help while walking on these waters toward the Lord, the crossing over to the other side, the coin found in the fishes mouth used to pay the local taxes and so much more. Coupled with this is the opportunity to board a wooden “Jesus boat” and push off from the shore and embrace a time of devotion, singing, scripture reading and meditative prayer while taking in the panorama of the 12 square miles where Jesus ministry unfolded on the plains of Gennesaret is hard to equal. Memorable and indelible. On a clear day one can marvel at the imposing view of 10,000 ft Mount Hermon rising to the north.
The Sea of Galilee is something of a misnomer, the word for sea, being a body of water, was used instead of Lake - more correctly the name should be Lake Kinneret meaning “a harp,” which is the shape when viewed from above and reminiscent of the melodic waves lapping on the shores. The Gospels also refer to Lake Kinneret as the Sea of Galilee, The Sea of Tiberias, Lake Gennesaret - and also known the Syrian Sea. However, Sea of Galilee has remained the overall favorite and I believe, will always remain so.
Dr. Lee van Rensburg
Sea of Galilee, Tiberias.