Galilee…this is a place I have always wanted to visit. Galilee fills me with feelings of peace and images of Jesus meeting the needs of people where they were at. Galilee – a place of calming storms, a place of calling disciples, of healing, prayers, teaching and a place of retreat.
Galilee had other names in the Bible – it was called the Sea Chinnereth (Num 34:110, Lake Gennesaret (Luke 5:1), and the Sea of Tiberias (John 6:1). The whole valley is a rift valley (the Jordan Rift Valley), and so is 205m below sea level. Because of the Jordan River and some springs, it is a fertile land (unlike further South and East!). It is the plate boundary between the African and Arabian continental plates. For the geology enthusiasts, it runs the length from the Sea of Galilee, to the Dead Sea, right down to the Red Sea and the Straits of Tiran. It has horizontal slip rates of several mm per year.
After a leisurely start to the day we wandered to a small museum which explained how they discovered a 1st Century fishing boat under the water and silt. They carefully extracted and cleaned it from the mud, using techniques to preserve their precious find. The fishing boat is on display and is most likely like one of the ones the disciples used.
We then we walked down a very pretty jetty (photographed a cute black lizard on the way), and got on a boat.
We travelled out to the middle of the lake then stopped there while Dan took worship, and we read the account of Jesus calming the storm. It was a warm and muggy day, and the sea breeze on our faces was very openly greeted. It was a very moving experience, all the while I was imagining Jesus and the disciples navigating these very waters.
Mark 4:35-41 (NIV)
“That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!””
Matthew 14:22-36 (NIV)
“Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it. Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake.
When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
When they had crossed over, they landed at Gennesaret. And when the men of that place recognized Jesus, they sent word to all the surrounding country. People brought all their sick to him and begged him to let the sick just touch the edge of his cloak, and all who touched it were healed.“
What a beautiful, peaceful, worshipful morning. This is a magical place – no, let me correct myself… a Spirit filled place when we understand the stories that unfolded here. When we understand Jesus’ ministry here on earth, how he fully understood humanity by living it, how much more does he understand us today, in our modern world. Thankyou Jesus!