The sea of Galilee is a major part of the Gospel accounts of the life of Jesus Christ. Often we do not really have a great understanding of what this lake was like, and how important it was in the life of the people who lived on its shores.
It is a very large lake, covering 40000 acres that is both fed and feeds the River Jordan. With the physical location of the lake, it is the only body of water in Galilee. This caused it to be a center for agriculture, fishing, and economics. The city of Tiberias on the shore was the administrative center for the ruling Romans. As for the fish, some historians account for exports that travelled all the way to Rome from the Sea of Galilee.
The lake was filled with sardines, tilapia, and a large carp called a barbel. Mollusks also filled the bottom of the lake as well. Due to the large amount for fish the lake was dotted with fishing villages, boats, and a few larger centers such as Tiberias, Capernaum and Bethsaida-Julias. Jesus would have travelled among the villages and would have been to the more major centers on occasion as well. Nazareth was a land lock town, that was about 25 miles outside of Capernaum. Capernaum was the home of Peter, Andrew, James and John, while Philip was from Bethsaida-Julias. These five disciples would have grown up near each other and in close proximity to Jesus as well.
In the Gospels there are forty-five references that involve the lake, the beach, a boat or fishing (or some combination of those things!). The lake is a major character and a shaper of how the story of Jesus Christ life unfolds … it would do us will to learn about this body of water!