Jesus spent almost all of his public ministry in this very vicinity of Israel.
Sea of Galilee
We will start exploring it with a boat ride to understand the sites of Jesus ministry from the fisherman’s point of view, sailing on the water of the Sea of Galilee.
Tabgha (Ein Sheva) is an area situated on the north-western shore of the Sea of Galilee in Israel. It is traditionally accepted as the place of the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes (Mark 6:30-46) and the fourth resurrection appearance of Jesus (Joh 21: 1-24) after His crucifixion where He also restored Peter after he denied Him three times. The earliest building at Tabgha was a small chapel built in the 4th century A.D. (around 350) by the Jewish convert to Christianity, Joseph of Tiberias. According to Epiphanius, Joseph was a contemporary of Emperor Constantine, a Rabbinical scholar, member of the Sanhedrin and a disciple of Hillel II. Following his conversion, Emperor Constantine gave him the rank of count, and gave him permission to build churches in the Galilee, specifically, in Jewish towns where there was not a Christian community, and the Galilee including the Sea of Galilee, was an area with a Jewish majority. This was probably the shrine described by the pilgrim Egeria at the end of the 4th century. The 4th century small shrine was dismantled in 480 and a bigger chapel was built by Martyrius of Jerusalem. Patriarch of Jerusalem from 478 to 486.
The mosaic of the fish and loaves is laid next to a large rock; some New Testament scholars speculate builders of the original church believed that Jesus stood on this rock when He blessed the fish and loaves before feeding the crowd who gathered to hear Him.
Church of the Primacy of Saint Peter
The end of John’s Gospel contains a story about the resurrected Jesus appearing to the disciples on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. They had gone out fishing, and caught nothing. He called to them from shore and instructed them to cast their nets on the other side of the boat. When they did, their nets were full to overflowing. Peter then recognized the Lord and jumped in the water to swimg to share. There, Jesus had prepared a coal fire with bread and roasted fish (John 21).
Early Christians venerated the place where this happened, singling out a large rock as the table Jesus would have used with his disciples for this meal. A church was built over that rock in the fourth century. That church was destroyed and a small church stands there now around the same stone, which is known as Christi Mensa (table of Christ). It was here that Peter was told by Jesus to be the leader of the disciples in Jesus’ absence.
Capernaum is also called “the town of Jesus”. In this archeological complex we will see the remains of an ancient fishing village located on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. According to the Chistian tradition, Jesus lived here during his public ministry and performed many miracles.
Mount of Beatitudes
This is the hill on which Jesus was said to have preached the Sermon on the Mount, perhaps the best-known part of which are the list of blessed areas – the Beatitudes. A lovely chapel crowns the mount, surrounded by contemplative gardens with a spectacular view of the Sea of Galilee.
Located on the banks of the Jordan River, this site commemorates the baptism of Jesus, described in the Gospel according to Mark 1:9-11:
“9 At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11 And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”