Summary: This is the 3rd in my lessons on Israel. This message focused on Jesus' ministry on the Sea of Galilee and the impressions I received as I visited that exciting area.

TITLE: Sailing On The Galilee John 21:1-11

OPENED: Video from our trip where we’re on the tour boat “Faith” on the Galilee and the group singing “It is well”

(Then we showed this map of the Sea of Galilee)

The Sea of Galilee is the largest freshwater lake in Israel. It is approximately 13 miles wide at its widest point East to West and 8 miles long from North to South. It has a total surface area of 64 square miles (the closest body of water to us is the Mississinewa Dam – surface are of 5 sq. mi.).

It’s generally the same size as Washington D.C.

It’s depth at its deepest point is 141 feet.

(Showed a “topographical map”)

As you can see from this topographical map, the Sea of Galilee is surrounded by mountains. The sea itself is about 690 feet below sea level (compared to about 1400 ft below sea level for the Dead Sea). The surrounding Mountainous terrain makes it a treacherous body of water for boats in midst of storms due to intensity of wind currents and the size of waves they can generate (as noted by the storm that frightened the Disciples when Jesus was asleep in the bow of the ship).

(Map of Jesus’ Ministry at the Sea of Galilee)

What was surprising to me was the smallness of the area covered by Jesus’ ministry in the Galilee area. If you pay close attention to this map you’ll find that the majority of Jesus’ time was spent on this one body of water.

o Jesus chose James and John while they were by their boats/ nets Matthew 4:21

o It was while he out on a boat like this that he was asleep (PEACE) Mt. 8:23ff

o Jesus would have used Peter’s boat to preach from Matthew. 14:13

o Jesus’ disciples were out in such a boat in a storm – walked on water. Matthew 14:22ff

o What I found most intriguing was the reference in John 21 to the number of fish that the disciples caught when Jesus told them to throw their nets over to other side of their boat.

The number? 153 fish.

Many have wondered as to why Scripture would have bothered to give us the exact count of fish caught that day. Some have speculated that it had to do with the number of nations that were known at that time. But most scholars scoff at that.

Our guide, however, came up with a very intriguing possibility to this question. He noted that the Jewish people (like many ancient cultures) did not count using “numbers” as we do. There was no 1, 2, 3, 4, etc. Instead it seems they used “letters” to designate numerical values. If you were to take the numerical values in Hebrew represented by “one hundred fifty three” you’d have the words “Ain Elohim” – which translated means “I am the God.”

(Picture of a boat as it would have looked in Jesus’ day)

This would have been how a fishing boat would have looked in the days of Jesus. Notice, it’s not very large, but it would have been big enough for a few fishermen to go out on the sea and cast their nets to catch fish. This is the kind of boat the disciples would have been in when the storm threatened to capsize them and Jesus said “Peace be still”. It was also in this boat that the 12 disciples would have crossed the sea as Jesus walked out to them in the middle of the night.

(Pictures of the “Jesus” boat on display at the visitors center near the Kibbutz of Ginosar)

These are pictures of a boat archaeologists found not so long ago buried in the mud along the shore the Sea of Galilee. The remains of the boat were found by brothers Moshe and Yuval Lufan, fishermen from Kibbutz Ginnosar. The brothers were keen amateur archaeologists with an interest in discovering artifacts from Israel's past. It had always been their hope to one day discover a boat in the Sea of Galilee, where they and generations of their family had fished. When drought reduced the water-level of the lake, the two brothers examined the newly exposed beach and stumbled across the remains of the boat buried in the shore.

The brothers reported their discovery to the authorities who sent out a team of archaeologists to investigate. Realizing that the remains of the boat were of tremendous historical importance to Jews and Christians alike, a secret archaeological dig followed, undertaken by members of Kibbutz Ginosar, the Israel Antiquities Authority, and numerous volunteers. Rumor spread that the boat was full of gold and the dig had to be guarded night and day. Excavating the boat from the mud without damaging it, quickly enough to extract it before the water rose again, was a difficult process which lasted 12 days and nights.

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