Many events in the Gospels are centered around the Sea of Galilee. Even (younger kids who have learned about the Bible), can probably identify this as the place where Christ ministered.
But how much do they know about it? Do they understand that it’s a real place and not a fictional location? I enjoy explaining things to kids, and helping them learn the details of God’s Word.
So here goes –
Facts about the Sea of Galilee.
1. The Sea of Galilee is actually a lake, not a sea.
2. The sea is also called Lake Kinneret, Lake Gennesaret, and Lake Tiberius among other names.
3. The lake is only 8 miles by 13 miles. Compare that to Lake Michigan at 118 miles by 307 miles.
4. This is the second lowest lake in the world (the Dead Sea is the lowest).
5. The sea has freshwater and most of Israel gets their drinking water from the lake. (The water level has been low in recent years and measures have been taken to keep the lake at a reasonable level via water from the Mediterranean.)
6. A fishing boat dating back to the time of Christ was found in the late 80s. (I wrote about that in a previous post.)
Ok – that’s some facts, but what’s it like to be there. Sometimes, as a writer, I like to sit still and, think about the different senses I am experiencing.
I had the privilege of traveling to Israel and staying at a hotel right on the shore of Galilee in Tiberius. Tiberius is the largest city on the lake. (We were there on a Friday and at sundown, the elevator was put in Shabbat/Sabbath which means it stopped at every floor, so no one would have to work pushing buttons.)
So here’s some thoughts I wrote from our balcony.
Smell – the entire area had a different smell — maybe partly the water, partly the fruit trees, and also the fact that we were below sea level so the air was dense and heavy.
Hearing – music, pop bottles crashing (as the garbage truck came through), people talking in Hebrew (I understood the little girl calling her dad, “Abba, Abba.), and also many people speaking English. Lots of tourists, so lots of beeping bus horns.
Seeing – a walk along the lake, crowded with people: girls in tight, black t-shirts and jeans; families with babies in strollers, couples enjoying ice cream cones (best ice cream EVER). Also, freshly-caught fish in open boxes (called St. Peter’s fish), and open-air fruit market.The roads are crowded with traffic and it seems everyone has a white Renault. From our window we can see a video arcade and numerous restaurants. We wander down the crowded streets – the streets quiet in the afternoon as many take siestas, but the evenings are alive! We stop at a store for a Pepsi and then wander through a department store with Gucci shirts, woks, and merchandise we could get at our local mall back home.
And cats. EVERYWHERE! From our hotel room, we can see an ancient ruin and there must be 40 cats climbing the walls, fighting, meowing …
The night grows dark, but we feel safe. A green light reflects in the water from some small boats. Out further reflection from the lights of the dinner cruise boats dance in the water.
With your kids (personal or ministry) look up The City of Tiberius on Google images. You and the kids will see a modern city with modern hotels. Most of the pictures will have the Sea of Galilee in the background. These pictures will help your kids understand this is a real lake.
ANOTHER IDEA: Again this works both in ministry or at home. Draw an outline of the Sea of Galilee and make a copy for each child. Then name different events that happened in Christ’s ministry and label them on the diagram. For example: the feeding of the 5,000. You can also label towns such as Capernaum and Bethesda. Be as detailed as you would like depending on the ages of your kids. (Older kids might enjoy doing some intensive research and filling in their map.)