Fishermen fish, children play, and the imagination goes back to biblical times and a man with a message.
Editor’s note • The Salt Lake Tribune’s senior religious editor, Peggy Fletcher Stack, is on assignment in the Middle East. Along with her more in-depth reporting, she shares shorter daily dispatches. This one comes from the Sea of Galilee.
Tiberias, Israel • Driving a few hours north of Jerusalem, you will notice that the landscape becomes greener with verdant farmlands and lush slopes.
This is where an itinerant Jewish preacher of antiquity drew throngs of followers with his subtle sermons, unconventional parables and penchant for healing, a man who chose fishermen for his proselytes and a hill for his pulpit.
At the center of much of this action was the Sea of Galilee, or Lake of Jesus, about half the size of Lake Utah.
It is here that the New Testament says that Jesus walked on water, calmed a raging storm and fed 5,000 starving worshipers with just a few loaves of bread and fish.
Nearby cities including Capernaum, Magdala, and Tiberias also feature in some of the stories.
No one knows the exact location of Jesus’ famous Sermon on the Mount, but there is a site known as the Mount of Beatitudes on the northwest shore of the lake which includes a Franciscan monastery, a chapel and the famous Eight Words engraved in stone.
It is a place of stunning natural beauty, where enthusiastic disciples can go to pray and reflect on their lives. But I have to admit, I had imagined, frankly, a less manicured scene for one of Jesus’ most captivating messages.
On Monday, the sea was calm but windy enough for a ripple of white-capped waves. The occasional fisherman could be seen casting a line in the fresh water, while the children played on the shore.
If I closed my eyes, I could block out modern views of city life — high-rise hotels, motor homes, and giant tour buses — and conjure up my own imaginings of the biblical scene and legendary lecture.