Scripture Reading: Genesis 41:41-42:38 / Matthew 14:22-15:9 / Psalm 12:1-8
The Sea of Galilee is a remarkable lake and Jesus spent most of His three-year ministry there. Most of Christ’s parables were given and most of His miracles were done in the region of the Sea of Galilee. The sea is really a lake…the lowest freshwater lake on earth at 700 feet below sea level. It is not large either as it's 13 miles long and 7½ miles wide; but it is the primary source of water for Israel.
The Sea of Galilee is known for its violent, life-threatening storms that come on suddenly and unexpectedly. The lake is surrounded by steep hills on all sides. When the cool air from the surrounding mountains intersect the warm lake air, violent storms erupt. The most intense storms are caused when the fierce winds of the Golan Heights rush down over the lake causing waves several feet high that break over the side of the boats.
The most experienced fishermen were even caught off guard as they suffered great loss and at times their lives. The disciples found themselves caught in the middle of one of these violent storms. Jesus had ministered to the multitudes and sent His disciples to the other side of the Galilee while He went to pray on the mountain. When evening came, “the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.” (Matthew 14:24)
Why were the disciples out in middle of the lake at night? They were in the boat because Jesus “made the disciples get into the boat…” (v.22) Jesus certainly knew the danger He was putting the disciples in but he had a divine purpose in the midst of the storm. He allowed them to battle the wind, waves and their own fear until the 4th watch of the night, which was between 3am and 6am!
Sometimes we find ourselves in the storms of life and Jesus simply let’s us struggle and toil. We at times question His direction, purpose and power. Jesus let the disciples struggle till early in the morning and then He walked out to them. They were terrified when they saw Him and were gripped with fear believing He was a ghost. But Jesus said to them, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” (v.27)
It’s easier to encourage someone to have faith and courage than to live it yourself. Peter was so spiritually charged that he asked to walk to Jesus. Peter was told to step out of the boat and walk to Christ but while he was walking, he became fearful, began to sink and cried out “Lord save me”. Jesus lifted Peter up and asked him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” (v.31)
Jesus gives us some boat safety lessons of life! We need to get in the boat when Jesus tells us to…despite what we think, feel or what awaits us. We need to stay in the boat…trusting that He is really with us and has a plan. We need to get out of the boat when He calls…He will not let us drown no matter how much we fear or doubt!