Time seems to have come to a stand-still where the green hills of the Galilee slope down to the Sea of Galilee. The Sea of Galilee is the enthralling power of this region for Christian visitors, where you don’t have to close your eyes to picture Jesus here – you have to open them.
As Matthew 4:13 tells us, Jesus went from Nazareth in the heart of Galilee, to Capernaum by the shore of the lake they called Genesaret. Here He gathered His first disciples – fishermen whom He found casting their nets from the shallows (Matt. 4:18). You can walk along that shore, in the very places where Jesus and the disciples walked and see the Bible come to life.
Rise at dawn when the ancient fishermen used to come home with their catch – or without it and watch the frenzy of the fish feeding close to the shoreline. Understand why Jesus chose fishermen for His first apostles: “...the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake...” (Matt. 13:47). This was the backdrop for the feeding of the 4,000 (Matt. 15:32-37) and of the 5,000 (Mark 6:39-43), with a few loaves and fishes. The beloved stories of the miraculous catches of fish are remembered here, perhaps especially John 21, when Peter was reconciled to Jesus (John 21:15-17). The drama of the demoniacs in the land of the Gadarenes (Matt. 8:28-33) takes on new meaning as you stand on the craggy cliff marked centuries ago by Christians as the place where the pigs flew into the lake. This site, lost for centuries, was rediscovered and restored only a few decades ago by Israeli archaeologists.
A unique stone path was created along the northern part of the lake, from Capernaum to the place of the multiplication of loaves and fishes, allowing you to feel the land vibrate with ancient stories of glory and simple faith. Look around you – in winter and spring the “lilies of the field” (Matt. 6:28) abound, and seeds thrive in their beds of good soil (Mark 4:8). In late summer and fall, the choking thorns Parable of the sower still overtake those same fields, just as Jesus described it (Mark 4:7).
FROM THE SCRIPTURES
Jesus Calls His First Disciples
Jesus Calls the First Disciples While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him.
Matthew 4:18-20 (ESV)
Jesus Used Metaphors Related to the Sea of Galilee
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and gathered fish of every kind.
Matthew 13:47 (ESV)
Jesus Feeds the Crowd
Then Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion on the crowd because they have been with me now three days and have nothing to eat. And I am unwilling to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way.” And the disciples said to him, “Where are we to get enough bread in such a desolate place to feed so great a crowd?” And Jesus said to them, “How many loaves do you have?” They said, “Seven, and a few small fish.” And directing the crowd to sit down on the ground, he took the seven loaves and the fish, and having given thanks he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up seven baskets full of the broken pieces left over.
Matthew 15:32-37 (ESV)
Then he commanded them all to sit down in groups on the green grass. So they sat down in groups, by hundreds and by fifties. And taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and said a blessing and broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples to set before the people. And he divided the two fish among them all. And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up twelve baskets full of broken pieces and of the fish.
Mark 6:39-43 (ESV)
Jesus Liberates the Possessed Near the Sea of Galilee
And when he came to the other side, to the country of the Gadarenes, two demon-possessed men met him, coming out of the tombs, so fierce that no one could pass that way. And behold, they cried out, “What have you to do with us, O Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the time?” Now a herd of many pigs was feeding at some distance from them. And the demons begged him, saying, “If you cast us out, send us away into the herd of pigs.” And he said to them, “Go.” So they came out and went into the pigs, and behold, the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea and drowned in the waters. The herdsmen fled, and going into the city they told everything, especially what had happened to the demon-possessed men.
Matthew 8:28-33 (ESV)