The Sea of Galilee – If it is You Command me . . .
It’s late afternoon of our first full day in Israel. We have seen Ceasarea, Mt. Carmel, (Ar)Megiddo and the Valley of Jezreel. We’re headed to our motel. The bus hums along and the eyes start to close. A large blue sign notifies us we are at sea level and it doesn’t immediately register but we suddenly realize we are going down hill. Can this be? Yes, we are going below sea level?
Descending quite rapidly and coming around a curve, our eyes awaken to a most astonishing sight, the Sea of Galilee. Surrounded by mountains and 650 feet below sea level is this spectacular lake. It is 13 miles long and 7 miles wide. Also called the sea of Kinnereth (Num. 34:11), the Lake of Gennesaret (Lk. 5:1) and the sea of Tiberias (Jn. 21:1); it is where we will spend the night.
To be honest, the Sea of Galilee is one of the most memorable and moving sights in Israel.
What is so special about it? In Israel today, as the recipient of the waters from Mt. Hermon to the north it is Israel’s primary fresh water reservoir, the key to Israel turning the desert into farmland.
For us, however, the significance will come as we tour its shores and when we take a boat and stop somewhere in the middle for a quiet reflection. With the wind flowing through our hair, we will have a 360-degree view of the places where Jesus did most of His ministry. It was at the Sea of Galilee He called his disciples, healed a leper, stilled a storm, cast out demons, taught the crowds and fed the 5000.
Today, however, as we sit in our boat, I’d like us to reflect on one incident that happened on the Sea of Galilee. It was here that Peter got out of the boat and walked on water. What can we learn? Max Lucado reminds us that “if you want to walk on water you have to get out of the boat.” We’ll be impressed with Peter’s courage to attempt the impossible. Yet if we’re not careful we may conclude everyone with faith should get out of the boat, that faith is all it takes to attempt the impossible, that with faith we can do anything. Notice, however, the words of Peter:
“Lord if it is you, command me to come to you on the water” Mt. 14:28
As we identify with Peter on the Sea of Galilee we learn that Faith is not getting out of a boat and expecting to walk on water but Faith is responding to Christ’s command to get out of the boat. Faith does not allow us to do the impossible. Faith allows us to do what Christ tells us to do! Faith is having such confidence in Christ that if He’d command us to get out of a boat, we’d do it!