For Christians, the holiest lake in the world is the Sea of Galilee. This body of water, on the shores of which Jesus lived, walked, taught, and performed miracles, has been known through the years by a variety of names: the Lake of Gennesaret, Lake Gennesaret, the Sea of Tiberias, Tiberias Lake, and presently, Yam Kinneret. It is the largest freshwater lake in Israel, and the lowest freshwater lake in the world.
The Sea of Galilee is located in the region of Galilee of northern Israel. It is fed partly by fresh water springs, but mainly by the Jordan River which flows through it from north to south.
It is about 53 miles (21 km) in circumference, 13 miles (21 km) long and 8 miles (13 km) wide. It has a total area of about 166 square km, and a maximum depth of about 141 feet (43 m).
Much of the life and ministry of Jesus of Nazareth took place in the towns and villages which were scattered around the Sea of Galilee in the first century A.D. Four of His Apostles, Peter, Andrew, James and John, were summoned from their jobs as fishermen on this lake: Jesus invited them: “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of people.” (Mt. 4:19)
The town of Capernaum, situated on the northwestern shore, functioned as Jesus’ home base. He performed many miracles there. He exorcised demons, and He healed many sick people, including Peter’s mother-in-law. (Mark 1: 21-34)
In a grassy field near Bethsaida a town on the northeasern shore, a few miles distant from Capernaum, Jesus fed 5,000 men and their families with 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish. He cured a blind man. (Mark 8: 22-25). Bethsaida is also believed to be the birthplace of Peter, Andrew and Philip.
The Sermon on the Mount is thought to have been delivered from a hill near the northern coast of the Sea of Galilee. The land elevation forms a natural amphitheater and Jesus’ voice would have been audible to many listeners.Today, there is a church on the site called “The Church of the Beatitudes”.
After the Sermon on the Mount, the Apostles set out to sail from Capernaum across the lake to Bethsaida, while Jesus went off by Himself to pray. During the night, He approached them, walking on the water. Understandably, His friends were frightened, thinking they were seeing a ghost. Jesus spoke to them: ” Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.” ( Mk. 6:50).
It was during a fierce storm on the Sea of Galilee that Jesus calmed His terrified Apostles and proved His power over the natural world, by walking to bow of the boat and calling out with authority, commanding the tempest to cease. The wind died and immediate peace and stillness descended over the raging waters. (Mt. 8: 23-27)
Christians believe that Jesus is God. He came to earth to atone for sin and to show us the human face of the Divine. We cannot love what we do not know. Because of Jesus Christ and His earthly ministry, we can recognize God, Father, Son and Spirit in the person of Jesus, the God-man, who came to live among us. We honor the place where He spent most of His time, the vicinity of the Sea of Galilee. Is it any wonder Christians consider this body of water the holiest lake in the world?
To view a map of the Sea of Galilee in the first century A.D., follow this link: