October 28: Sea of Galilee

Rewind a bit to when Jesus feeds the five thousand men (don't forget that the women and children present were not even counted in this number). Everyone is reclining on the grass, satisfied by this feast of two fish and five loaves. Jesus tells the disciples to get in the boat and go before him on the other side so that he could dismiss this massive crowd. The crowd leaves and Jesus decides to walk up on the mountain to pray by himself. He's by himself when evening comes and sees that the boat is long-gone by now. 

And what does Jesus do?

He decides to do a little more walking... only, this time, Jesus is going to walk on water. Or rather, the Sea of Galilee.

The scene is quite different from the photos above. It's nighttime, the "wind was against [the disciples]" and the boat is beaten by the waves. Have no fear! Jesus is here. That's right. JD and I love reading this story. We can just imagine Jesus walking along the nasty, crashing waves that could take a boat down in an instant - and then Jesus faces the water with an attitude of: "Hey, guys. Ain't no thing but a chicken wing. (Deep South Translation)"

Seriously though. After being scared pants-less, Jesus tries to calm the disciples, "Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid." He invites Peter to join him after Peter challenges Jesus by saying, "If it's really you, command me to come to you on the water."

Of course, Jesus does just that. "Come." Peter steps out of the boat, even walks on the raging sea and then... "Oh no!! The wind." Jesus has conquered the wind, the water, the waves. Because of his faith in Jesus, Peter even conquers the water and the waves, but the wind... That's where the doubt set in.

John Ortberg wrote a book entitled If You Want to Walk On Water, You've Got to Get Out of the Boat. How true that title fits to our lives! People often criticize Peter for losing faith when he sees the wind, but he was the only disciple to actually get out of the boat, trusting that Jesus would keep his feet on top of the sea. How often is it that we don't even trust Jesus enough to take us out of the boat? Moreover, how often is it that we lose sight of Christ and BOOM. We collapse into the water because we shift our focus off Christ and onto the wind, or the obstacles in life.

Fear overcomes our faith. 

My favorite part of this story is that after Peter loses faith, he falls into the sea crying for Jesus to save him. Jesus reaches his hand out to Peter, saving him from the brutal waters and says, "O you of little faith, why did you doubt?" Is that not one of the most beautiful portrayals of Jesus? He's showing compassion, grace, redemption, salvation, and mercy to a regular guy that just lost his focus for a bit. Praise God that He desires to save us and redeem us regardless of the countless times we doubt in our God of Salvation! 

The wind ceases and every man in that boat begins crying out in worship, "Truly you are the Son of God!!"

There are so many other wonderful stories about the Sea of Galilee. If you want to check it out, the passages about Jesus walking on water can be found in Matthew 14, verses 22-33. We realize that our posts are excruciatingly long so we're trying to render that. However, we want to lead you to some other passages that took place at the Sea of Galilee. You can check them out here:

  • Jesus speaks to the multitude from Peter's boat (Mark 3:7-12, Luke 5:1-3)
  • Jesus calms the storm (Matthew 8:23-27)
  • Jesus appears here after the resurrection (Mark 14:28, John 21:1-23)

And a little quick fact about the Sea of Galilee... This fresh water lake has many names. However, the Israelites call the sea "Lake Kinneret", which means harp, because of its harp-shaped shoreline. Anyone else think it kind of looks like Africa too?... Or is that too far of a stretch?