The glassy surface shimmered like diamonds scattered across it’s deep blue waters in the late afternoon sun. Six-hundred feet below sea level, the Sea of Galilee exists as the lowest fresh water lake in the world.
And I gazed silent, wonderstruck that my Lord stood on this very shore.
Fourteen miles long by seven and a half miles wide, during Jesus time the lake bustled with over two-hundred fishing boats working the waters for nightly catches. Can you picture it, the shouts of triumph as the full nets were retrieved and the silence cutting thick on those returning with nothing to show for their bone weary toil?
He strolled purposeful, and breathed deep the fresh scent, admiring his handiwork as the waves lapped soft near his feet. On these shores Jesus hand-picked four fisherman for a divine purpose. Changed forever were two sets of brothers, Peter and Andrew, James and John who thought their life’s purpose was catching fish of the the slimy kind.
“Follow me. I will make you fishers of men!” Matthew 4:19
Settled in a verdant valley, the spring fed sea hides it’s moody disposition from us that day. Violent winds can whip from the east, rushing down the bordering mountains to churn the surface. Hitting the calm waters with mighty force, the winds can explode waves up to seven feet high in a matter of minutes.
“Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” He replied. “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up ad rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.” Matthew 8:23-26
I had to pinch myself when we boarded a boat and sailed smoothly along the deep blue surface where Jesus walked on this water and admonished Peter as he sank afraid— his faith faltering.
Below Tiberius, a city shunned by ancient Jews because it was built on a burial site, laid a secret treasure. Sunk two thousand years ago, a fishing boat was abandoned and left to rot in it’s watery grave near the western shore. Mummified in mud and silt, preserved to perfection, it waited patiently for waters to recede.
For someone to please discover it.
The interim lasted until the drought of 1986.
They named it the Jesus Boat.
Did it slide past our Lord as he crossed the Sea, or as he taught from a similar vessel when crowds pressed? A humble craft, eleven types of wood were found in it’s construction. Using some recycled boards salvaged from earlier boats, it boasted a patchwork of first century craftsmanship.
And I soak deep the knowledge that I have journeyed up the hill and am now plopped on the top of the Mount of Beatitudes. The traditional spot where my Lord imparted words that resounded in eternity. I can see in my mind’s eye the crowds packed down the lush grassy slope, sitting in familial clumps.
On the sun warmed volcanic rock I perched, as I sat in as much solitude as I could find with tour groups swirling and buses roaring to life in the background. I focused unblinking on two tiny fishing boats making watery trails in the glistening sea below, losing myself in memories of his words.
“Blessed are the meek, blessed are the merciful, blessed are the peacemakers…”
In the distance, diminutive Capernaum, Jesus home after his near murder in Nazareth forty miles away, nestles snug along the rocky shore. “Leaving Nazareth he went and lived in Capernaum which was by the lake.” Matthew 4:13 Here he was busy as the bees, preaching in the synagogue and performing scads of miracles like healing the Centurion’s servant, the bleeding woman and the paralytic.
Built only a mile or so down the hill, many of the townspeople would have walked up to hear the compelling Sermon on the Mount. But the words couldn’t adhere sticky in their hard hearts.
Despite all the miracles they witnessed, Jesus condemned them with a scathing rebuke as
“And you Capernaum, will you be lifted to the heavens? No, you will go down to Hades. For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Sodom, it would have remained to this day. …it will be more bearable for Sodom on the day of judgment than for you.” Matthew 11:23-24
Wildflowers of purple and yellow dot the mount and tiny bees buzz in and out, laser-focused on their mission. Flitting from blossom to blossom in an endless loop of days, they fly oblivious to the holy significance of the site, like when I let the too-busyness of my life blind me to
The always of his words
And the amazing of this world.
“When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at this teaching, because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.” Matthew 7:28-29
Though I falter and fall, I want to be one of his Faithful washed clean, as I pick myself up, brush the grime from my knees
And trudge forward again,