To a Christian, the Sea of Galilee is synonymous with the ministry of Jesus. The hub of the Galilee region, the sea’s importance came from its fishing and its location along the great International Highway.
Jesus located His base of ministry in Capernaum. From that town He walked many miles with twelve disciples—most of whom hailed from the towns around the sea.
When Christian pilgrims come to Israel today, they almost all visit the Sea of Galilee. And for good reason. As in the days of Jesus, the large lake still has storms, beautiful sunrises, and sites that we will forever associate with the Lord’s ministry.
I’d like to show you five must-see Christian sites by the Sea of Galilee—and how each one may (or may not) connect to Jesus.
Not many places in Galilee can genuinely claim to be the “Town of Jesus.” But every visitor who enters the ancient site of Capernaum passes a sign that makes that boast. And it’s right. To me, of all the Christian sites by the Sea of Galilee, this one tops the list.
A stroll around the site reveals numerous archaeological treasures. Unquestionably, one of the greatest finds in Capernaum is the restored ancient synagogue.
- Although the white marble ruins date later than the first century, they rest on top of the thick, black basalt foundation of the synagogue in the time of Jesus.
- A number of historical and biblical events occurred in this synagogue. It’s mindboggling to walk in the space and imagine the conversations that occurred there, several of which Scripture records (Mark 1:21-27; John 6:35-59).
The site also preserves a first-century house, which most likely belonged to Peter.
Read my full post on Capernaum.
Mount of Beatitudes
The picturesque view from the Mount of Beatitudes offers visitors more than simply a beautiful view. It offers a place to consider truth taught there by One who knew it.
The Mount of Beatitudes marks the traditional location of the Sermon on the Mount. At the top of the slope, once called Mount Eremos, a modern church towers over area. The building’s eight sides commemorate the eight “beatitudes” that began Jesus’ celebrated Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:3-10).
Tidy gardens descend to a small, covered, semicircular sitting area that overlooks the lake. It’s a great place to sit, read, pray—or just enjoy the view.
Read my full post on the Mount of Beatitudes.
One of the finest archaeological discoveries in Israel, the Nof Ginosar “Jesus Boat” remains a must-see for any visit to the Sea of Galilee.
The museum tells the story of the boat’s discovery through a video presentation, photos and descriptions, as well as a scale model of how the boat would have appeared in its prime.
Because the ancient boat dates from the time of Jesus, some have sensationally dubbed the vessel, “The Jesus Boat.” Nof Ginosar isn’t in the list of Christian sites because it relates to Jesus’ ministry, but because the boat dates to the time of Christ and offers visitors a firsthand look the kind of boat Jesus and His twelve disciples would have sailed.
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- The seven- by twenty-six foot vessel could have held up to fifteen individuals.
- The Bible refers to boats of this kind playing a major role in the ministry of Jesus, with more than a half-dozen references in Mark’s gospel alone (Mark 1:19; 3:9; 4:1; 4:36–37; 5:2; 5:18; 6:32; 6:45–51; 8:10–14).
Read my full post on Nof Ginosar.
Most modern maps, guides, and tourists books point to the site of et-Tell as biblical Bethsaida.
- The archaeological remains in Bethsaida are sketchy and remain a source of conflicting views on the validity of the site.
- Even though most road signs point to et-Tell as biblical Bethsaida, there just isn’t enough evidence to make it conclusive.
Peter, Andrew, and Philip had Bethsaida as their hometown. The lessons from Bethsaida are tremendous.
Read my full post on Bethsaida.
Tabgha and the Primacy of Peter
The New Testament records that after Jesus’ resurrection, He met Peter and some of the other apostles by the shore of the Sea of Galilee (John 21:1-23). Tradition identifies it as Tabgha—my favorite of all Christian sites around the lake.
The site always greets me with a funny sign. It reads: “Holy place. No shorts.” And yet Peter fished half-naked here. Peter knew it well.
- The place has a Greek name, Heptapegon, meaning “place of seven springs”; in Arabic it is called Tabgha (pronounced “tav-guh”).
- The springs attract fish to this part of the sea and have for thousands of years.
At the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, beside these same waters at Tabgha—near where the Church of the Primacy of St. Peter sits today—a dumbfounded Peter had fallen at Jesus’ feet after a miraculous catch of fish (Luke 5:1-8). At the end of Jesus’ ministry, another miraculous catch occurred in the same area. In a way, the Lord invited Peter to begin again with Him.
Tabgha is a great place to start over with God.
Read my full post on Tabgha.
Permanently linked with Jesus, these 5 Christian sites by the Sea of Galilee shouldn’t be missed. Each one provides a mental picture that accentuates one’s reading and understanding of the gospels.
Question: What is your favorite Christian site by the Sea of Galilee? You can leave a comment by clicking here.