Jesus was born in Bethlehem and lived in Egypt as a baby, but he did his growing up in and around the Galilee region. This is the place where many of his miracles happened, and where many of his disciples lived and worked as well. It was an important region to Jesus and his life’s work, so it’s important for many Christian visitors to Israel as well. Plan to spend a couple of nights here on your trip, and put these sites on your “must see” list!
Wow. What didn’t happen in Capernaum? It comes up many times in the Bible because Jesus made it his home, and some of the Apostles lived here as well (Peter, Andrew, James, John, and Matthew). He preached in the synagogue after being run out of Nazareth. After just beginning his ministry, he healed many people from sickness, including Peter’s mother-in-law, and many others from demon possession. (Luke 4:31-44)
This is also where Jesus healed the paralytic man who had to be lowered through the roof by his friends (Mark 2:1-12). He also gave his sermon here about how he is the bread of life (John 6:22-59). He healed a bleeding woman who merely touched his garment (Mark 5:25-34) on his way to raise the daughter of Jairus, one of the rulers of the synagogue (Mark 5:21-43). A day in Capernaum alone will give you plenty to see and read about!
Mount of Beatitudes
This is the site of what is possibly Jesus’ most famous sermon: The Sermon on the Mount from Matthew 5. You should read this sermon here (it’s not long!) while you look out over the Galilee region. There is also the Church of the Beatitudes that was built here in 1938 to mark the spot where Jesus gave the sermon.
This town is famous as the place where Jesus grew up, but don’t forget it’s also the place where the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary to tell her she would give birth to Jesus (Luke 1:36-38). And an angel also appeared to Joseph in a dream to tell him to marry Mary despite her miraculous pregnancy (Matthew 1:18-25).
You can visit the churches built over Mary’s house and Joseph’s workshop. You may also be interested to see the “Synagogue Church” where Jesus may have attended as a Jewish boy growing up in Nazareth. This is the same synagogue where he spoke and read from Isaiah 61:1-2. (Luke 4:14-27)
While speaking at the synagogue mentioned above, the people there became angry about what he was saying and tried to run him off of the cliff that the town sat upon – Mount Precipice. But somehow, the Bible says that “passing through their midst, he went away.” (Luke 4:28-30)
Jesus did a lot of miracles in his lifetime, including his very first one at a wedding in a place called Cana. There are plenty of jokes and memes out there about turning water into wine, and this is where it really happened, at a wedding where Jesus was a guest. This is also the event that made the disciples believe in him. (John 2:1-11)
There is a church here on the site, where you can, in fact, buy communion wine if you wish. There is also an ancient wine vessel you can see here like the ones they would have used at the wedding.
Why stop at Bethsaida? This is the place where Jesus fed the 5,000. He came here by boat and tried to get away from the crowd, but they followed him here anyway. Despite looking for seclusion, he saw the people in the crowd (all 5,000 of them) and had compassion for them anyway. He also spent time healing the sick people who had come here.
Because it was such a secluded place, and it was getting late in the day, the disciples suggested that Jesus send the people away so they could start making their way to a nearby village to get food. Instead, Jesus took five loaves of bread and two fish, prayed to thank God for them, and started breaking them up. By the time he finished, all 5,000 people had been fed, and there were still twelve baskets of bread and fish left over! (Matthew 14:13-21, John 6:1-15)
Magdala: As in, Mary Magdalene. Located in present-day Migdal, beside the Sea of Galilee, Magdala is the home town of this important woman from the Bible. Not only was she an early follower of Christ, she was part of a miracle he performed when he drove seven demons out of her in Luke 8:2. She was also there at Jesus’ tomb when the stone was rolled over the entrance (Matthew 27:61), as well as when the stone was rolled away the following Sunday morning. She and “the other Mary” were the first people Jesus appeared to after rising from the dead. (Matthew 28:1-10)
The archaeological park here is relatively new, so discoveries are still being made often. They’ve uncovered house foundations and other parts of an ancient town here. It’s worth a visit, especially if you’re interested in archaeology.
If you’re into a bit of gore and parts of the Bible that are not rated G, head about half an hour south of the Sea of Galilee and visit Mount Gilboa and Bet Sheen National Park. This is the site of the Battle of Gilboa, and as a result, it’s also the place where Philistines killed King Saul’s three sons. King Saul was also wounded here by Philistine archers, but he chose to fall on his sword and kill himself instead of allow the Philistines to kill and mistreat him. (1 Samuel 31)
Yoga Allon Museum
You might also see or hear this referred to as the “Jesus Boat Museum.” It’s a museum in Ginosar, beside the Sea of Galilee. While the boat on display itself likely has no ties to Jesus, it is a first century boat similar to the type he and his disciples would have used in their daily lives, like the time Jesus calmed the storm in Matthew 8:23-27.
The Sea of Galilee
This is it, right? This is where Jesus walked on the water, where Peter walked on water and then faltered, where Christians learn one of the most important lessons in the Bible: Keep your eyes on Jesus and have faith, no matter what. (Matthew 14:22-34, Mark 6:45-53, John 6:16-21)
One of the coolest experiences a Christian can have is to go out in a boat on the Sea of Galilee and take in the view from the middle of the massive lake. It’s so large, it creates its own microclimate, complete with storms and waves. You can imagine what it would have been like in a first century boat when a storm came up, like the one Jesus calmed here in Mark 4:35-41. Don’t miss a chance to go out on the Sea of Galilee while you’re there.