The oldest name for the Sea of Galilee is “Chinnereth.” The name means, “harp,” and the lake likely took the name because of the shape of its perimeter.
Driving around the northern side of Sea of Galilee causes the neck of most folks to turn back and forth a lot. There’s so much to see without ever leaving the vehicle! For example:
- The Mount of Beatitudes tops a conspicuous slope. You can’t miss the chapel on top.
- If Capernaum weren’t obvious because of its road sign, the throng of tour buses turning in would give it away.
- The towering Mount Arbel orients every person to the northwest side of the Sea of Galilee.
But several other sites are less easy to see. That’s because they look like little more than a turn in the road, an inlet in the lake, or a gated-off sidewalk.
All 3 sites are worth tapping the brakes—and even worth the trouble of getting out and enjoying.
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.
After Jesus left His former hometown of Nazareth, He moved His base of operations to Capernaum, beside the Sea of Galilee.
This move fulfilled what the Prophet Isaiah had predicted centuries earlier (Isaiah 9:1-2; Matthew 4:14). Today, millions of tourists visit Israel each year, the majority of them Christians. I think it’s ironic that so many people still come to Capernaum and its surrounding area for the same reason they did in the first century.
Because that’s where Jesus was.
From a distance, the place seems as if it’s hiding. I don’t blame it for trying. After all, it remains one of the three cities in Galilee that Jesus rebuked for failing to respond to His message and miracles.
The basalt ruins of Chorazin appear little more than a pile of rocks among so many thousands of others. Clumps of grass and volcanic rock offer a variegated green and gray to the hillside above the Sea of Galilee.
Unless you look carefully, you may not even see the city.
But Jesus saw it. So should we.
We had no idea what following Jesus would demand when we started out. We thought we knew.
We thought the Christian life meant that once we believed in Jesus, if we walked obediently, God would bless us, protect us, put us at ease—basically dote on us as His children. To some extent, we still expect that.
But God wants to give us something greater than those things.