Jesus’ Ministry in Galilee

Though the Sea of Galilee (also called the Sea of Chinnereth and the Sea of Gennesaret) is hardly mentioned in the Old Testament, by the time of the New Testament the freshwater lake boasted a thriving fishing industry and several noteworthy towns along its shores. The lake is nestled among the lush hills of Galilee at an elevation of more than 600 feet below sea level and is fed by the northern section of the Jordan River. The main section of the Jordan River originates from the Sea of Galilee’s southern extreme. Soon after his baptism Jesus relocated his ministry from his hometown of Nazareth to the fishing town of Capernaum, and several of his disciples were fishermen on the lake (Matthew 4:12-22; Mark 1:16-20; Luke 5:1-11). A number of the events described in the Gospels took place along (or sometimes on) the lake, including Jesus feeding thousands of people (Matthew 14:13-21; 15:29-39; Mark 6:30-44; 8:1-10; Luke 9:10-17; John 6:1-15), walking on water (Matthew 14:22-36; Mark 6:45-53; Luke 6:16-21), and calming the wind and the waves (Matthew 8:23-27; Mark 4:35-41). Such storms are not uncommon on the lake, as winds can rush in suddenly from the west or the east and generate waves over 10 feet high. Jesus also taught many sermons and parables along the shores of the lake, including his famous Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7), and in one instance Jesus taught from a boat on the lake while people listened from the shore (Mark 4:1).

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