They didn’t want to miss the wise counsel.
They didn’t want to miss the affirming word.
They didn’t want to miss another perplexing, heart-and-mind- and-soul stretching parable.
And they certainly didn’t want to miss a miracle.
Thus, at day’s end, as Jesus was guided by his disciple-friends aboard a nearby boat after his long, but full day of teaching, others determined to follow. Although there was no room to accompany Jesus on his boat, they would not be dissuaded. They took to the sea in other little boats to cross to the other side of the Sea of Galilee with him.
Resolved to follow Jesus across the sleeping lake to the eastern shore, did they consider that their small, sea-faring vessels were ill-prepared for the wind-walloping, wave-crashing, ship-sinking power of the tumultuous, ever-changing seascape?
Did they understand the risk?
The Sea of Galilee is located deep in the Jordan Rift Valley of Israel. It is fed by underground springs, with its main source of water flowing from the Jordan River. As a result of its low-lying position in the rift valley, and being nestled below high reaching, surrounding hills, the Sea of Galilee is susceptible to sudden, violent storms. This body of water is nearly 700 feet below sea level. As the wind blows over the eastern mountains, these eastern winds send cool, dry air over the warm, sub-tropical sea waters. The heavy, cold air descends as the warm air rises. Then, as the contrasting air masses meet, a storm whips the sea waves into an unexpected, surprising, turbulent and sudden frenzy.
Anyone familiar with this area would know that the Sea of Galilee was shallow – just 200 feet at its greatest depth. When a weather event materialized in which these contrasting air masses collided over the sea, the shallow waters would be easy prey to the powerful might of the wind. Stirred by the wind into a fast and furious uproar, there would be no safe, secure place for a small boat caught up in the violent, merciless waves.
Again, was anyone thinking about the possible danger ahead?
Jesus had extended an invitation.
That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him.
New International Version, Mark 6: 35-36
Most commentaries zero in upon the events in the boat that carried Jesus. I’ve done that, too.
However, today, my attention turns to Mark’s short, non-descript sentence:
There were also other boats with him.
When we study the life of Jesus Christ, we learn that much of his ministry happened along the shores of the Sea of Galilee. At this time, there were many villages and settlements that dotted the coastline. Fishing was the central trade. It is said that nearly 250 boats would set sail, cast nets, and harvest fish from its waters. Boats also ferried people from east to west and from west to east. It is no wonder that Jesus spent most of his three-year ministry career in this thriving area. People were here.
And boats were here.
As Jesus invited others to cross to the other side of the sea with him, more boats would be needed to assist those who desired to accompany Jesus.
Who were these people?
Boat owners and their families?
Seafaring men on business?
Women like Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Susanna who met Jesus in Galilee?
Observers and listeners from Jesus’ parable-sharing sessions that day?
Passengers that just needed to cross the sea that night?
People who didn’t want to miss a miracle?
For that night, as the parade of boats made their way into the center of the sea, a furious squall came upon the Sea of Galilee. the waves broke over the boats. No boat was spared. Each was nearly submerged by the force of the powerful waves.
Did the people of these other boats remember the promise of Jesus?
He was with them.
Jesus was not physically present in their vessels, of course – like the boat with the disciples.
But he had asked them to follow him to the other side of the sea – with him.
He offered them a way to the other side. Did they follow Jesus with resolute trust in the middle of this storm?
Did they call out to Jesus in fear as the disciples did?
Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”
Jesus rose to his feet. He rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.
No one in the other boats would be able to hear the force and command of Jesus’ words.
Yet, everyone in the other boats would have been able to witness and experience the miracle of this moment.
These people hadn’t missed the wonder and power of the Son of God. Even though they traveled the course of the sea in different boats, Jesus was still with them. Just as he protected and saved the disciples, he protected and saved everyone who had come with him, too. They chose to follow Jesus wherever he ventured – even into the distressing, dangerous sea waters. They sought the blessing and benefit of hearing Jesus share the Good News on the other side of the sea.
In the company of Jesus Christ, these other little boats of people, were determined to experience all that Jesus offered them – life eternal, regardless of risk or danger.
What about us?
We may not see Jesus in our little boat we call life. But He is here. Just as others in their little boats couldn’t see Jesus that night on the Sea of Galilee, we can’t see him right now, either. Yet, that doesn’t mean that He is not with us. Just as his power and his authority were declared upon the waters of Galilee, the power and authority of Jesus is at work in us, too.
Upon a mountain in Galilee, Jesus came and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
New International Version, Matthew 28: 18-20
The disciples received that message.
I bet the many others in those little boats were there to receive that exhortation, too.
There are risks in following Jesus.
There are dangers, too.
There are sea waters that surge, and we may think we may be overcome.
But Jesus is already there.
Jesus is asking us to experience the wonder, the power, and the blessing of sharing His Good News with others.
What do we need to do?
We need to follow Him and step into one of his boats – He’ll take us to the other side where miracles abound!
Are we ready?
I don’t want to miss the wise counsel of His word.
I don’t want to miss the affirmation of His call.
And I certainly don’t want to miss the miracle and wonder of His invitation.
Are we ready to board a boat to follow Jesus?
Image retrieved from Heart Light