On the Sea of Galilee

25th June 2014

Having seen the ancient Galilee Boat we boarded a modern Galilee Boat for an excursion on the Sea of Galilee. The photo below is not “our” boat, but part of the fleet to which “our” boat belongs.

Boat on the Sea of Galilee

Boat on the Sea of Galilee

The crew take groups of pilgrims out onto the Sea of Galilee and return to port or ferry them across to the other side. We did the former and took the bus around the northern end of the Sea of Galilee to get around to the other side. There are several incidents recorded in the Gospels about Jesus (and his disciples) crossing the Lake and coming to the other side, or coming back from the other side.

While on the Sea of Galilee the captain cut the engines and we read/listened to the following account from the Gospel of Mark, Chapter Four:

Jesus Stills a Storm

35 On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” 36 And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him. 37 A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. 38 But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” 39 He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. 40 He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” 41 And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”

Our lecturer, Br Mark McVann, led us in a reflection on the suffering that so many people in the world experience – the poor, minorities, kidnappings, rape, murder, violence, torture … He made the point that the Gospel of Mark was written during a time of great violence, probably during the Roman-Jewish war, when Christian loyalty was suspect. Consequently, they endured persecution from both sides. In the Gospel story, the “boat” is a symbol of the “Church”, being tossed on the waves of persecution, suffering and violence. This account assures them that despite appearances, the risen Christ is with them, that he can be relied on, that he is the one who brings true peace. We were also challenged that in the midst of so much suffering in today’s world, when the victims feel abandoned, forgotten, we cannot be silent, but must speak up for them, in the assurance that no matter the cost in the short term, we are assured of true, genuine and lasting peace with Christ.

Here I am at the bow of the boat on the Sea of Galilee!

Pilgrim on a boat on the Sea of Galilee

Pilgrim on a boat on the Sea of Galilee

The Sea of Galilee, also Kinneret, Lake of Gennesaret, or Lake Tiberias (Hebrew: יָם כִּנֶּרֶת, Judeo-Aramaic: יַמּא דטבריא, Arabic: بحيرة طبريا‎), is the largest freshwater lake in Israel, and it is approximately 53 km (33 mi) in circumference, about 21 km (13 mi) long, and 13 km (8.1 mi) wide. The lake has a total area of 166.7 km2 (64.4 sq mi) at its fullest, and a maximum depth of approximately 43 m (141 feet).[3] At levels between 215 metres (705 ft) and 209 metres (686 ft) below sea level,[4] it is the lowest freshwater lake on Earth and the second-lowest lake overall (after the Dead Sea, a saltwater lake).[5] The lake is fed partly by underground springs although its main source is the Jordan River which flows through it from north to south. http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sea_of_Galilee

As you can see from the above statistics, the Sea of Galilee is not very big. You can see from one side to the other (as shown in many photos).

View of Mount Arbel on the eastern shore from a boat on the Sea of Galilee

View of Mount Arbel on the eastern shore from a boat on the Sea of Galilee

Mount Arbel rises 380 metres about the surrounding area or 181 metres above sea level. The cliffs are a product of the Jordan Rift Valley and the geological faults that produced the valleys. At its foot, on the shore of the lake, lies the town of Magdala, whose most famous person in history is Mary Magdalene, a disciple of Jesus, one of the witnesses of the risen Christ, and apostle to the apostles.

Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene

11 But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; 12 and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. 13 They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” 14 When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher). 17 Jesus said to her, “Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” 18 Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”; and she told them that he had said these things to her. (Jn 20)

Swinging around a bit further to the north is the Mount of the Beatitudes. If you zoom in on the trees on the hill above the lake you may catch sight of the dome of the Church of the Beatitudes through the heat haze. Further to the left, just out of the frame of this photo, is the site of Capernaum (as reported in previous posts). So you can see how “concentrated” are the places and the events of Jesus’ ministry in the Galilee.

View of the Mount of the Beatitudes from a boat on the Sea of Galilee

View of the Mount of the Beatitudes from a boat on the Sea of Galilee

Shalom, Peace, Salaam!!!


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