I’ve heard a couple people say that the trip just keeps getting better, and they’re right. Absolutely my favorite experience to-date is this next part. From Capernaum, we drove a short distance along the coast to the site of where a group of archeologists had unearthed a 2000 year old boat, similar to the kind Jesus used to sail about on the Sea of Galilee. It was accidentally, and it was a major feet of engineering genius to dig it out, move it, bath it in protective chemicals, place it in a stainless steel exoskeleton, and display it to the general public. A very interesting museum had been erected at the site to tell the story and display the boat. It was fascinating.
After reading all about it and doing a little shopping in the gift shop, we were herded out onto the dock to board our own 1st century replica ship to cruise across the lake back to our hotel in Tiberius. Being on the boat has been my favorite part of the trip so far.
First, we tethered three boats together, which was an adventure all in itself. I’m not really sure they were designed to do that. Actually, we had the first two boats together from the point of launch, and had to wait for the third to join us. This wasn’t in the plan, and there was some impatience over it, but it turned out to be pretty sweet in my opinion, because it gave us time for pictures and additional worship.
James, Kathy, Lindsay, and Abby recorded a video at the bow of the ship which I thought was really cool. That was also a pretty choice place for pictures, with the sun setting in the background. I enjoyed serving people by taking pictures of them together (it’s so easy to only have one of you in every picture when you vacation as a couple).
When the worship music broke out, that’s when I really started getting into it. It was pretty amazing to be out in the middle of the Sea of Galilee in a wooden boat worshipping God, knowing that the music was echoing across the lake the way Jesus’ voice had reached thousands on the shore millennia ago. I also greatly enjoyed watching the people there, knowing that they were each having a similar experience. Everyone interacted with the experience in their own personal way, which is such a picture of the church. One God, one holy place, many people, many experiences, many pathways to relate to God.
After Lindsay led worship, James preached on Matthew 14, when Jesus sent the disciples ahead of him on a boat out onto the Sea of Galilee, knowing that there would be a terrific storm. Caught out on the lake as the wind and waters raged against the boat, the disciples were afraid for their lives, fighting against the storm. In the middle of the night, Jesus walked out to them on the water, and they were terrified because they thought He was a ghost. He calls to them, Peter (the impetuous one that he is) asks Jesus to call to him to walk out on the water. Jesus does, and Peter with great faith jumps out of the boat and miraculously walks on the water to Jesus. But of course, as we do, he takes his eyes of Jesus, becomes afraid, and begins to sink. Jesus rescues him, and the disciples rightly worship Him.
James’ devotion on this passage focused on how Jesus orchestrated the whole thing to demostrate His faithfulness both to the disciples and to us, and that our role in the picture is to A) fix our eyes on Jesus and B) to jump out of the boat. Even if we sink, Jesus will be there to catch us. A classic message from this passage, but made more alive hearing it echo across the waters of the Sea of Galilee.
Before, during and after the message, it was beautiful to look out over the water and see the surrounding mountains, knowing that tens of thousands had sat on the shores of this lake to hear Jesus teach. The sunset was beautiful. After dark, the city of Tiberius was beautiful, lit up on the hillside. It reminded me of Jesus’ words in Matthew 6 that a city on a hill cannot be hidden.
Another great part of the ride was when one of the Israelis led us in a gospel song. Everyone got extremely rowdy, clapping and dancing, and it was great fun. Certainly unlike any other boatride I’ve ever taken. There was also a point when James and his daughter Abby danced together during the music. He both plays and devotes himself to the gospel and to his family with such reckless abandon, even in the presence of so many that are inclined to judge him or hold him to an impossible standard.
This does sound amazing. I studied the discovery of this boat in my Biblical Archaeology course. Can’t imagine actually being there to see it.
I too visited Israel in 1999. Seeing this ancient boat, built in Jesus’ time was fascinating. Likewise, being out on the Sea of Galilee, seeing where Jesus walked and preached, seeing the places where so much of His ministry occurred…indescribable. Glad you got to have this experience!
Your description of the boat ride on the Sea of Galilee is neat. In 1999 our ride on the wooden boat was fun but nothing like yours. The Captain put up the US flag along with the Israeli flag. There was no way any space to dance. It was the middle of the day and the sea was calm. The hills were a lot like those of around Ellensburg, Washington – rather rounded and brown. The lake was wider than I expected – it looks small on a map and is a lot like Lake Sammamish (Washington State). After our ride it was time to eat a lunch of Saint Peter fish – and to delight in the idea of perhaps having the same type of food that the disciples did.