The Sea of Galilee is a catchment basin for the Jordan River and is fed by the melting snow from Mount Hermon. It is 13 miles long and 7.5 miles wide. It is 50 meters deep and has a surface area which is 63.7 square miles. Noted for its greenery in a relatively barren land, Josephus referred to it as the “ambition of nature,” where “it forces those plants that are naturally enemies to one another to agree together.” Some in the ancient world called the sea “Kinneret” meaning “lyre” because its shape was similar to the musical instrument played by David.
After miraculously feeding over 5000 people, Jesus withdrew from the multitudes to pray, and sent the disciples ahead of him. They sailed west across the Sea of Galilee, “but the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.” (Matthew 14:24) The Lord came walking to them on the water, a sight that created fear in the hearts of the twelve. “‘It’s a ghost,’ they said and cried out in fear.” (Matt 14:26)
The Lord quickly assured them with the words, “‘Take courage, it is I. Don’t be afraid.’” (Matt 14:27) Peter was invited by the Lord to come to him on the water and responded by walking toward Jesus, “But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’” (Matt 14:30) Jesus caught Peter by the hand. “‘You of little faith,’ he said, ‘why did you doubt?’” (Matt 14:31) The Greek word for “doubt” distazo, implies wavering and hesitating.
This event causes us to think of what makes us doubt. We doubt because of trouble. Like Peter, we’re sinking. We’re sinking in sickness, in financial struggles, and in relational conflict. A person may wonder, “How can God let this happen to me?” We also doubt because we take our eyes off Jesus. Instead of wavering we may move forward with life in spite of our trials. But we must keep our eyes focused on the one who gives us peace. “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2) We stay focused on Jesus by remembering His words, by rehearsing His promises, and by following His example.
Through the cross Jesus modeled for all people how to advance and endure when circumstances would bring us fear. He gives us the peace to move forward in spite of what’s happening around us. As Oswald Chambers once said, “The peace that Jesus gives is never engineered by circumstances on the outside.” The prophet reminds us to stay focused with the words, “You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you.” (Isaiah 26:3)
In faith we continue walking though the wind and waves threaten us. We can endure like Jesus when our eyes are on Jesus. His words, his promises, and his example will remain in us. What is inside of us will move us forward. Let’s keep our eyes on Jesus!
Pastor Ken Atchison
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com.