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The Sea of Galilee: Scene of Many Biblical Sights

Galilee, Israel

The fabled Sea of Galilee is where Christians believe Jesus walked on water, calmed the storm, and made Peter and Andrew into “fishers of men.” It’s where John the Baptist baptized Jesus. And it’s where Jesus fed the masses with a few loaves and fish and gave his Sermon on the Mount.

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A short drive up Israel’s coastline and then into the interior takes us down — 700 feet below sea level — to the Sea of Galilee. Israel’s primary source of fresh water, it’s both fed and drained by the Jordan River. This area has long been popular with Israeli vacationers and Christian pilgrims. Galilee is famous as the place where Jesus did his three years of ministry, and where so many Bible stories were set.

In the Jordan River, the faithful believe John the Baptist baptized Jesus. And today, Christians from all over the world come here in droves to affirm their baptism with a dip into that same fabled river.

This busy north end of Galilee is where the Bible says Jesus walked on water, calmed the storm, and talked fishermen into changing careers.

In the Bible, Matthew wrote, “As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Peter and Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, as they were fishermen. And Jesus said, “Come follow me, and I’ll make you fishers of men.”

The faithful come here to worship, be inspired, and walk in the footsteps of Jesus.

In this church, a rock marks Mensa Christi — the place where it’s believed Christ, resurrected after his crucifixion, ate with his disciples and said specifically to Peter, “Feed my sheep.” For Roman Catholics, this is a very important site, as it established the importance of Peter — the first pope — among the disciples.

Another church is built upon the place where, according to the Bible, the 5,000 who gathered to hear Jesus preach were miraculously fed by a few fish and loaves of bread. This mosaic is from the original church that stood here in the fifth century.

And this church, perched high above the Galilee, on Mount Beatitude, marks the place where Jesus gave the Sermon on the Mount. Beatitude is Latin for “blessing.” The faithful come from far and wide to remember how Jesus said, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God. And blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.”

This group, from Nigeria, is one more spirited example of how so much of our world embraces this land as truly holy.

Having sampled the great sights and experiences of Israel, visitors — whether religious or not — leave impressed by the amazing diversity of the sightseeing packed into this small country. And it’s hard not to be impressed by the richness and complexity of the cultures and traditions that have steeped for so many centuries here in the Holy Land.