Jesus’ Ministry along the Sea of Galilee

It is often said that big things come in small packages. The truth of this saying is no more clearly displayed than in the ministry of Jesus along the shores of the Sea of Galilee. By the time Jesus moved from his hometown of Nazareth to the town of Capernaum, the freshwater Sea of Galilee boasted a thriving fishing industry, and several of those Jesus would eventually choose as his disciples were fishermen (Matthew 4:12-22; Mark 1:16-20; Luke 5:1-11). And though this small lake spanned a mere seven miles at its widest point from east to west, a significant number of events in Jesus’ ministry took place along its shores–or sometimes even on the lake itself. One of these events–the feeding of 5000 people–took place near the town of Bethsaida (Matthew 14:13-21; Mark 6:30-44; Luke 9:10-17; John 6:1-15), which was also the hometown of Peter, Andrew, and Philip (John 1:44; 12:21). The exact location of this town is still being debated, with some scholars favoring the site of et-Tell and others favoring the site of el-Araj. Other notable events along the lake include Jesus walking on the water (Matthew 14:22-36; Mark 6:45-53; Luke 6:16-21), calming the wind and the waves (Matthew 8:23-27; Mark 4:35-41), and teaching people in parables and sermons. Jesus’ most famous sermon (Matthew 5-7) was likely delivered at a place now called the Mount of Beatitudes. On another occasion Jesus taught from a boat on the lake while people listened along the shore (Mark 4:1). This may have happened at a place called the Cove of the Sower, which was a naturally occurring outdoor amphitheater in which the lake itself formed the stage.

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