Today, we’re visiting the Sea of Galilee. If you’d like to see—and hear—what the water looks like at the Sea of Galilee today, take a look at the short video below. It’s a beautiful spot in the land of Israel and the site of some of Jesus’ most memorable miracles. Then read on to see how putting your faith in Christ can help you through some of the toughest situations in your life.
So what happened on the Sea of Galilee? This is where Jesus spent much of His time after He left His boyhood home of Nazareth. In the coming weeks, I’ll be talking about several of the miracles that took place here that touched people’s hearts and lives.
But today I’d like to focus on two that took place out on the sea itself: when Jesus walked on water and when He calmed the storm that threatened the lives of His disciples.
Jesus is an expert at walking through storms. The miracle that He did on the Sea of Galilee wasn’t the first time He displayed His giftedness for this. Just before coming to the Sea of Galilee, Jesus walked unscathed through another storm that threatened to take His own life.
Maybe you remember that when Jesus lived in Nazareth, He went to the synagogue one day and read from the scroll of Isaiah. At first, all the people spoke well of Him, being amazed at “the gracious words that came from His lips.” But after quoting from the words of Isaiah—referring to the Messiah that was to come—Jesus added:
“Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4:21b).
Imagine growing up in the same city with Jesus—the guy down the block who did carpentry with His dad—then He gets up and says that He’s the Messiah, the One about whom the prophet Isaiah had written about some 700 years earlier. You’d think that Jesus was either a lunatic or a liar. He couldn’t possibly be telling the truth, could He?
So the crowd turned on Him. The Bible says:
“All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this. They got up, drove Him out of the town, and took Him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw Him down the cliff. But He walked right through the crowd and went on His way” (Luke 4:28-30).
The crowd went from calm to stormy in a matter of seconds. They went from praising Jesus to taking Him to the edge of a cliff to throw Him off within a matter of minutes. But Jesus wasn’t phased by their words of praise nor their acts of violence. He simply said what He had to say, then “walked right through the crowd and went on His way.”
So when the storm came up on His disciples on the Sea of Galilee some time later, Jesus wasn’t phased by it either. He and His disciples had just finished a long day of ministering to thousands, having heard earlier in the day that John the Baptist had just been beheaded. Jesus headed off to a mountainside to pray, telling His disciples to get into the boat and head to the other side.
The story picks up here:
When evening came, He was there alone, but the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.
During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw Him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.
But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
That’s when Jesus famously called Peter to come out to Him and walk on the water and which Peter did until he saw the wind and the waves and started to sink again. So Jesus reached out His hand and took hold of Peter’s and pulled him back up.
The story finishes by saying:
And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshiped Him, saying, “Truly You are the Son of God” (Matthew 14:23b-33).
There are two things that I’d like to mention about this storm. The first is that Jesus is the one who sent them into it. And the second is that Jesus is the one who brought them out of it.
Just like in Nazareth, Jesus didn’t worry about the wind and the waves. In the case of the angry crowd, Jesus had nothing to fear. It was the crowd who was fearful by what Jesus was saying and acted wrongfully because of it. Jesus did what was right and when He was done He simply walked through the crowd and went on His way.
In the same way, when Jesus needed to get to the other side of the lake, He wasn’t phased by the fact that strong waves lay ahead. He sent His disciples into the waves and He went into them Himself afterward. Jesus wasn’t afraid of the storm. Jesus just kept doing what He needed to do and His disciples did what He told them to.
There are times when I’ve felt like I was being thrown into a storm—and it seemed like it was Jesus who was throwing me into it! I’ve learned that the best thing to do in those times is to hold onto Jesus as tight as I can. I know that Jesus knows best how to walk through them, whether I’m facing an angry crowd or some wind and some waves.
You may find yourself in the middle of a storm right now, too. The circumstances of your life may be buffeting against you. You may be facing things that are threatening your health, your family, your relationships, your job, your career, your finances or your friends. The threats may be very real and the prospects ahead may look very grim.
I want to encourage you to hold onto Jesus as tight as you can. Keep walking through the wind and the waves. Keep walking towards Jesus, the Messiah, the Author and Sustainer of your life. And even if you start to sink, know that Jesus is right beside you to take hold of your hands and pull you in close. Hold on tight and never let Him go. He’s the One who knows best how to walk through a storm. Let Him speak to you the words He spoke to His disciples that night on the Sea of Galilee:
“Take courage, it is I! Don’t be afraid.”
Father, thank You for sending Jesus to help us through the storms we face. Thank You for reminding us that it’s sometimes even Jesus who sends us into the storms in the first place. Lord, help us to have the faith to trust in Him, no matter what, and to trust that whether it’s Him who sent us into the storm or not, that He’s the One who can bring us through it. In Jesus’ name, Amen.