Galilee, A Very Small Sea

Galilee, A Very Small Sea: We read in the Gospels about the ministry of Jesus taking place in the northern end of the Sea of Galilee. It isn’t really a sea at all, but a small lake.

It was also called the Sea of Tiberius, after the Roman emperor of the time, and also Lake Gennesaret, or Lake Kinnereth prior to Jesus’ lifetime on earth. There is a lake in Wisconsin that is similar in many respects, Lake Winnebago. Here’s a comparison:

Sea of Galilee/Sea of Tiberius/ Lake Gennesaret/Lake Kinnereth

Length: 13 miles

Width: 8 miles

Deepest point: 141 feet

685.5 feet below sea level

Lake Winnebago

Length 22.58 miles

Widest point 10 miles

Deepest point: 21 feet (15.5 feet average depth)

746 feet above sea level

Sea of Galilee little changed in 2000 years

The Sea of Galilee is the lowest freshwater lake in the world, 686 below sea level. The Jordan River flows into it in the north and out of it in the south. Capernaum is on its northwestern shores.

Interestingly, the Sea of Galilee is very similar now to what it was 2000 years ago. The hills and valleys are the same, as well as the color of the water, so what we see now is essentially what Jesus saw. It was a good land for agriculture, with olive trees, fruit trees and vegetables.

The rich land rendered good crops and it is not a stretch to imagine that with abundant food, Jesus and his followers would have provisions.

Sea of Galilee was at a key location

The lake itself was in a crossroads area, It was a travel route for commerce, so there was always new people coming through with new ideas and news of an ever-changing world. Despite this, it was not a rich area and certainly not an intellectual center. People worked hard to get by.

Faith was an important aspect of life there, as people observed the Jewish traditions. Interestingly, being far from the intellectual and cultural centers of the region, Jesus chose the northern section of this body of water as a launching point for His ministry. They were simple people, blue collar so to speak and far from the elite. Unlike Jerusalem, it was clean and the air was fresh.

Where would Jesus launch His ministry now?

Imagine if Jesus were to be here on earth and launching His ministry now. Would He chose New York, or Los Angeles, perhaps London or Tokyo? Perhaps we would have chosen Oshkosh, Wisconsin and Lake Winnebago. It’s a silly question. Salvation came from the Jews and God’s selection of time and place was, of course, perfect.

Jesus choose Capernaum for His first disciples

The fishing town of Capernaum was where Jesus selected his first disciples, telling them they would become fishers of men. It was an idea place to start. I have long believed that the timing was perfect because there was no media to get in the way and distort the message.

There was politics at play with the Romans and the Jewish authorities, but it was simple time. The message spread by word of mouth and with no daily highlights to recap the activities of the day on video, people accepted the message by faith, not after having seen irrefutable evidence.

There were no competing stories, no football games, no worldwide, instantaneous coverage. The pure, beautiful Gospel was presented through bold proclamations by the Apostles, letters to churches and first-hand accounts of the life of Christ.

With no technology to interfere, the Bible took shape and the message remains as it was, with no changes.

Praise be to God for His perfect plan.