In 1986 drought conditions led to low water on the Sea of Galilee. The low waters revealed some items that had long been submerged beneath the sea’s surface. One of the items that poked its head through the mud and muck was the outside edges of an old wooden fishing boat. After investigating the ruins of this boat, it was determined that the boat was 2,000 years old . . . that’s right – the fishing boat found was most likely on the waters of the Sea of Galilee in the days of Jesus and His disciples!
The story of the rescue and preservation of this boat was remarkably told at the Ginosar Kibbutz fishing boat museum that we visited on our tour of Israel. It was truly amazing to walk around a fishing boat that would have been similar to the boats Jesus and the disciples used in the first century. Seeing the size and look of the boat helped me put into greater focus one of the most remarkable stories from Jesus interactions with His disciples on the Sea of Galilee.
In Matthew 8:23-27, Jesus is on a boat with His disciples on the sea (similar to the boat in Ginosar). While they are sailing at night, a mighty storm broke out. The boat was taking on water and the disciples were very afraid for their lives. While the disciples strained against their oars, Jesus was asleep in the stern of the boat.
In my mind, I had always imagined this scene differently. The boat the disciples and Jesus were on was always a multi-layered “house boat” like the U.S.S. Minnow from Gilligan’s Island. While the disciples were up on the deck, Jesus was far away in HIs state room. Deep down I knew this was never the way it really went down, but for some reason, in my mind, Jesus was rooms away. Seeing the boat in Ginosar, I realized that Jesus was within eyeshot of the disciples in their dismay. The first century fishing boat was only 27 feet long and 7 feet wide. With 13 people on this boat, someone in their group was within inches of Jesus . . . possibly even touching Him . . . and yet they were afraid. What a scene this must have been!
Seeing this boat reminds me of the tension so many of us feel in life. Even on days when we can “feel Jesus” (like when we have a refreshing time reading our Bibles, a deep season of prayer, an enriching time of fellowship, or participate in a moving worship service) we are just one storm away from wondering where He is. We leave church encouraged, but fight with our spouse, child, or friend on the way home and come away discouraged. We have our quiet time reading of God’s faithfulness and wisdom, then doubt His plan when things don’t go as we planned. The rain drops of life tend have a propensity to blind us from the presence of God in our lives.
Once the disciples woke Jesus up, however, He immediately took action. He spoke to the wind and the waves, and they immediately ceased. This demonstrated Jesus power over all things . . . and was intended to inspire faith in the disciples — and in us. The next time a storm is threatening you in this life, remember Who is in the boat with you . . . and remember that He is only inches away.