Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Sea of Galilee - Jesus Walks on Water

The Sea of Galilee is the lowest freshwater lake on earth and is anywhere from 686 to 705 feet below sea level, depending on lake levels. It has a 33 mile circumference, is 13 miles long at the longest point and 8 miles wide at the widest point and is fed mainly by the Jordan River. It is known by many names, including the Sea or Lake of Kinneret, the Sea or Lake of Gennesaret, the Sea of Ginosar, and in New Testament times as the Sea of Galilee, Sea of Tiberias and Lake Tiberias. 

Much of the ministry of Jesus occurred near the Sea of Galilee, particularly in Capernaum at the northwest end. 

One of my favorite biblical stories relating to the Sea of Galilee is when Jesus and Peter both walk on water. 

In John 6, "...Jesus went over the sea of Galilee, which is the sea of Tiberias...And when even was now come, his disciples went down unto the sea, And entered into a ship, and went over the sea toward Capernaum. And it was now dark, and Jesus was not come to them. And the sea arose by reason of a great wind that blew. So when they had rowed about five and twenty or thirty furlongs, they see Jesus walking on the sea, and drawing nigh unto the ship: and they were afraid. But he saith unto them, It is I; be not afraid. Then they willingly received him into the ship: and immediately the ship was at the land whither they went." 
By Amadee Varint - from Wikipedia
Additional information for the same story is in Matthew 14: "And...Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him unto the other side, while he sent the multitudes away....[And] he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone.  But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary. And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear. But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid. And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee upon the water. And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried out, saying, Lord, save me. And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt? And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased. And they that were in the ship  worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God. And when they were gone over, they came into the land of Gennesaret."
View from a mountain above Magdala, looking out toward Capernaum. 
View from mountain above Magdala.
Lake shore view of the Sea of Galilee at Capernaum.
Water birds on the lake near Capernaum.
View of boat on lake from Capernaum.
I love the hymn that goes along with these verses, Master The Tempest Is Raging, with text by Mary Ann Baker and music by H.R. Palmer. The lyrics are:
1.   Master, the tempest is raging! The billows are tossing high! The sky is o'ershadowed with blackness. No shelter or help is nigh. Carest thou not that we perish? How canst thou lie asleep. When each moment so madly is threat'ning A grave in the angry deep? 
2.     Master, with anguish of spirit I bow in my grief today. The depths of my sad heart are troubled. Oh, waken and save, I pray! Torrents of sin and of anguish Sweep o'er my sinking soul, and I perish! I perish! dear Master, Oh, hasten and take control!
3.     Master, the terror is over. The elements sweetly rest. Earth's sun in the calm lake is mirrored, And heaven's within my breast. Linger, O blessed Redeemer! Leave me alone no more, And with joy I shall make the blest harbor and Rest on the blissful shore.
Chorus:     The winds and the waves shall obey thy will: Peace, be still. Whether the wrath of the storm-tossed sea Or demons or men or whatever it be, No waters can swallow the ship where lies The Master of ocean and earth and skies. They all shall sweetly obey thy will; Peace, be still; peace, be still. They all shall sweetly obey thy will: Peace, peace, be still." 
We had an opportunity to take a boat out at night onto the Sea of Galilee from Tiberias with the lights off and imagined what it would have looked like when Jesus approached the boat at night. Of course the lights we could see from the boat would not have been there. 
Walking in water off Capernaum.
View of lights on mountains from boat on the Sea of Galilee at night.
Lights of Tiberias at night from the Sea of Galilee.
Kasey works up the crowd on the boat before the lights go out.
We learned that bad weather can come up quickly on the Sea of Galilee and that the waves can be very significant. I was surprised at how small the Sea of Galilee is and it has changed some of my perspective on the New Testament stories that include it. 


  1. Going out on the Sea at night was definitely a highlight for me.

  2. I agree with Chris--a highlight. I've always been moved by both this story about Christ walking on the water and the story of Christ calming the storm. To see the site--especially at night--and imagine the events was a wonderful experience.

  3. Hi,

    You have some great photos!

    What is your photo permission policy? Would be willing to let me use some for a bible video presentation to a bible class? It is not for commercial use.

    Please let me know.