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The Pastor's Blog

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The Sea of Galilee, also known as the Sea of Tiberias (John 21:1) and the Lake of Gennesaret (Luke 5:1), is approximately thirteen miles from north to south and about eight miles east to west, and sets deep in a bowl, about seven hundred feet below sea level.

From its headwaters at the base of Mount Hermon, the Jordan River flows into the Sea of Galilee from the north. The Jordan then continues for about seventy miles as it flows out of the southern tip of Galilee toward the Dead Sea.

The thriving villages of Magdala and Tiberias were on the western shores of Galilee. Capernaum and Bethsaida were to the north, and the Decapolis, the primarily-Gentile ten cities, were to the south and east. Jesus frequented all these places during His ministerial journeys.

As we have seen, Peter, Andrew, James, and John were fishermen who lived at Capernaum. They had grown up on the lake and treasured the times when the waters were as smooth as glass. Like folks living in the Panhandle of Texas, the fishermen had experienced the wind and the sudden and sometimes violent storms.

After a long day spent teaching on the western side of Galilee, Jesus said, “Let’s cross over to the other side of the sea”(Mark 4:35).

Ten or twelve men sat in the over-grown rowboat; a fishing boat common on Galilee. It was equipped with oars, possibly six or eight and maybe a small sail that could be attached to the short mast. It was most likely Peter that grabbed the rudder and assumed the responsibility of skipper. Charting a familiar course, Peter aimed the bow of the little craft toward the eastern skyline.

Out of nowhere, the winds began to whine and whirl. The waves crashed and driving rain pelted the faces of the disciples. “Nothing to worry about!” Peter thought. He’d triumphed over a thousand storms. I can imagine the fisherman barking orders. “Row harder!” And… “Somebody grab that bucket and bail the water out of the bottom of the boat!”

The winds intensified, becoming a “fierce windstorm” (Luke 8:23), “a violent storm!” (Matthew 8:24). The “great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking over the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped” (Mark 4:37).

As the angry waves threatened to overwhelm the vessel, everyone aboard faced the looming possibility of death. Frantically looking around, they discovered Jesus, in the stern, the back of the boat, sleeping peacefully on a cushion. “They woke him up and said to him, ‘Teacher! Don’t you care that we’re going to die?’ ” (Mark 4:38). “Lord, save us! We’re going to die!” (Matthew 8:25). Jesus sat up, blinked into the gusts and gale, and much like He once said, “Let there be light” (Genesis 1:3), He firmly commanded, “ ‘Silence! Be still!’ The wind ceased, and there was a great calm” (Mark 4:39). Quiet. Stillness. Utter tranquility!

When we face dangers and difficulties, we must remember one thing. Jesus is in the boat.

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