This lake, of heavy historic significance, is known by many names. Israelis I spoke with in Tel Aviv referred to it as Yam Kinneret. In the Bible, it is also called the Lake of Gennesaret, the Sea of Galilee, or the Sea of Tiberias. There are many names for it, but just one body of water.
Looking over the ruins of ancient Capernaum to the Sea of Galilee
The Sea of Galilee is 13 miles long and 8 miles wide. (I know. It’s probably smaller than you thought!)
This is where Jesus walked on the water!!!
This region around the Sea of Galilee is referenced constantly throughout the gospels because this was the primary stomping grounds of Jesus and his disciples. The area around this lake was called Galilee, and ALL of the disciples were from this region, except one.
Want to guess which one?
Judas Iscariot. Yep. As in Judas the ultimate betrayer.
It is a beautiful, well-tended shore, the perfect spot for tourists like us to take photos.
The lake is breathtakingly beautiful and had a nice breeze coming off of it. Alan and I stood by it in awe. We watched two jet skis zipping by, and I felt happy to see that this body of water is still a relevant place where people can come and enjoy and remember.
Want to see a couple of places where this place is mentioned in the Bible?
One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, the people were crowding around him and listening to the word of God. 2He saw at the water’s edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets. 3He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat. Luke 5:1-3
I stood there on the shore, trying to picture where those boats might have sat while Jesus taught.
I’ve always loved how the Bible says that people were crowding around him to hear what he had to say. People flocked to Jesus because of his compassion, mercy, knowledge, and authority, as well as his miracles. They were drawn to him because he was w-o-n-d-e-r-f-u-l.
I pictured this being a spot where they would park their boats and go through their catch of the day when they were fishing.
“When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.”
5Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”
6When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break.7So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink.
8When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” 9For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken,10and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners.
Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.” 11So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.”
Luke 5: 4-11
The Bible was written while these people were still alive and could agree and disagree with each other’s accounts. I just love that. This is history.
Fishers of Men
Why were they fishing for men, you can’t help think…fishing for men. Salesmen fish for men. Ugh. They fish so hard. Door to door they fish. Go away, salesmen, I don’t want your vacuum cleaner, your cable service, or wait….yes, I do want your lawn fertilization service. Lawns are very important here….Ha!!
But Jesus wasn’t selling anything. He wasn’t gaining off the backs of anyone. If he needed to make money, he could work his stone carving (carpentry) business.
This wasn’t about money.
They were fishing for people to help, and not just spiritually. They went from town to town healing the sick, giving sight to the blind, and then they would give them hope of salvation. Who can listen to hope for your soul when your physical needs aren’t met?
We need to be more like Jesus, fishing for people to help.
That’s so hard for me. I know it sounds terrible, but I just don’t want to deal with people most of the time. I want to take care of my own family and my house and let the world handle its own problems. Who has time to get involved in the lives of others??? There’s always so much to do! I don’t even want to answer my phone.
But that’s not the life we’re called to.
Your family comes before the rest, yes. If we don’t take care of our own, that’s neglect. We need to be fishers of men too, though, fishing for people to help.
Everywhere we go, we should be fulfilling our calling to love and help others, fishing for men, in whichever way God has given you to do that.
Alan and me in front of the Sea of Galilee in Capernaum, close to St. Peter’s house
I hope you’ve enjoyed our Israel trip series. Jordan River is next!
Want to see what you may have missed? Here are a few other Israel articles with tons of photos:
Tel Aviv: Shopping
Jerusalem: The Via Dolorosa
Joppa–Home of Simon the Tanner and the port used by Jonah