In our last post, Jesus and His disciples had travelled to Bethsaida on the north shore of the Sea of Galilee. Today, they travel across the lake to Gennesaret.
Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go ahead of him to the other side, while he sent the multitudes away. … 34 When they had crossed over, they came to the land of Gennesaret. 35 When the people of that place recognized him, they sent into all that surrounding region and brought to him all who were sick; 36 and they begged him that they might just touch the fringe of his garment. As many as touched it were made whole. (Matthew 14:22,34-36)
We don’t know much about Gennesaret. It is only mentioned three times in the Bible – here in Matthew 14, in the parallel passage in Mark 6, and Luke 5 where the Sea of Galilee is referenced as the lake of Gennesaret.
According to Wikipedia, it was originally named Kinneret, but was Grecized to Gennesaret. The place name refers both to a small village, but also to a fertile plain along the west coast of the lake. As indicated in Luke 5, the Sea of Galilee was sometimes called the Lake of Gennesaret. It was also sometimes called the Lake of Galilee, the Sea of Gennesaret, the Sea or Lake of Kinneret (or Kinnereth) and the Sea or Lake of Tiberias. (More about this lake in a future post.)
Although we don’t know much about the place, archeologists are pretty sure of its location – on the northwestern shore of the lake – between Capernaum and Magdala. In the Journeys with Jesus game, I have placed Gennesaret on the south east coast of the Sea of Galilee. I did this in large part because the northwest corner of the lake was becoming very crowded on the gameboard. Since the gospels only reference traveling to and from Gennesaret by boat, making this town be on the Sea of Galilee and reachable by boat seemed a fair representation.
Jesus’ ministry in Gennesaret doesn’t stand out from much of his Galilean ministry. With just a touch He heals the sick.
But in the passage quoted above, I left out a big chunk, and this is what you probably remember best about Jesus’ journey to Gennesaret:
After he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into the mountain by himself to pray. When evening had come, he was there alone. 24 But the boat was now in the middle of the sea, distressed by the waves, for the wind was contrary. 25 In the fourth watch of the night, Jesus came to them, walking on the sea. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, “It’s a ghost!” and they cried out for fear. 27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Cheer up! It is I! Don’t be afraid.”
28 Peter answered him and said, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the waters.”
29 He said, “Come!”
Peter stepped down from the boat and walked on the waters to come to Jesus. 30 But when he saw that the wind was strong, he was afraid, and beginning to sink, he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!”
31 Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand, took hold of him, and said to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32 When they got up into the boat, the wind ceased. 33 Those who were in the boat came and worshiped him, saying, “You are truly the Son of God!” (Matthew 14:23-33)
On our journeys, may we keep our eyes fixed on Christ, trusting Him to save us, and knowing that he is truly the Son of God!
If you haven’t yet heeded Jesus’ command to come to Him, may you do it now, fully trusting that with Him nothing is impossible. No matter how far you have fallen, He can save you!
The map at the top of this post is a snapshot of a portion of the gameboard for Journeys with Jesus.
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Note: all scripture quotes, unless otherwise noted, are from the World English Bible which is in the public domain.