Fish, Fishermen and Boats . . . Part I

Don’t You Care?!

Rev. Sudha Mehta©

Christ_calls_fishermen.photo from LTS.jpg

Christ_calls_fishermen.photo from LDS

Mark 4: 35 When that evening came, He said to His disciples, “Let us cross to the other side.” 36 After they had dismissed the crowd, they took Jesus with them, since He was already in the boat. And there were other boats with Him.

37 Soon a violent windstorm came up, and the waves were breaking over the boat, so that it was being swamped. 38 But Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on the cushion. So they woke Him and said, “Teacher, don’t You care that we are perishing?”

39 Then Jesus got up and rebuked the wind and the sea. “Silence!” He commanded. “Be still!” And the wind died down, and it was perfectly calm.

40 “Why are you so afraid?” He asked. “Do you still have no faith?”

41 Overwhelmed with fear, they asked one another, “Who is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?”(BSB)

For some reason I found myself up in the night looking up pictures of fishing boats in Jesus time. While I did find some pictures of casting nets that I believe Peter, James, John and Andrew would have used, I failed to find the right pictures of boats as I see the Bible describing.

It may not bother you any, but sometimes I get stuck on odd details. Mind you, I never get as stuck as my husband Peter does. He is an absolute stickler on detail. It is annoying at times. Thankfully, he is one in a million! . . . Thank fully! 😁

the night they caught nothing photo by LTS.jpg

the night they caught nothing photo by LDS

The boats I found trying to tell the story of Jesus were like the one above. Somehow, I can’t see this boat being seaworthy! Remember it is the SEA of Galilee where they made their living as fishermen. In the above passage it was at the shore of this SEA where Jesus said:

“Let us go to the other side.”

This is this SEA where they encountered the major storm and almost sank. It had to be in a boat that was SEAworthy.

In the text from Mark 4, it says Jesus was asleep in the stern on a cushion. The stern means the back of the boat. If this was a small boat with no cover, could Jesus be asleep with it raining, let alone storming? Could He lie on a cushion and be comfortable enough to sleep?

I believe these (boats) were bigger than commonly believed. In fact the King James Bible rightly calls them ships not boats. Understand a ship of yesteryear may well be called a large boat or a yacht of today. I believe the boat was big enough to carry the team and a shoal of fish.

Dubbed “the Jesus boat,” this is an exhibit today in Israel of what is thought to be a fishing boat around the time of Jesus.

Jesus Boat photo from Sar-El Tours

Jesus Boat photo from Sar-El Tours

“The boat was almost 27 feet / 8 metres long and nearly 8 feet / 2.4 metres wide – so it was much larger than a small rowing boat and more the size of a small ocean-going yacht. It was powered by a large sail, and would have had plenty of room for seine nets that could have been drawn round into a circle to catch a shoal of fish (see John 21:6).”(From The Bible Journey)

Questions remain whether all boats looked the same, but this seems a typical example. That said, I do believe the boats that belonged to Andrew and Peter, as well as the boats owned by James and John were big enough to haul comfortably all the disciples and Jesus. I also believe the boats had a covered stern where one could find rest and some protection from the elements.

Perhaps it was something like this:

fishing boat in India photo by fiveprime

fishing boat in India photo by fiveprime

Or perhaps it was a bigger longer version of the boats on the Hoogli River in India.

boats on the hoogli photo by trip advisor.in

boats on the hoogli photo by trip advisor.in

When we lived in Kolkata I became familiar with these boats. As a little girl we used to take a picnic sometimes to the Botanical Gardens. The trip could be made by a boat ride across the Hoogli river.

The storm on the Galilee came so suddenly and fiercely, the disciples were afraid. These were seasoned fishermen who not only knew the sea but also understood weather patterns sufficiently so that they would not have cast off if the weather looked dangerous. It also says there were other boats with them. The other boats were possibly some of the crowds that chose to follow. We are not told but I believe everyone arrived safely and everyone witnessed the miracle.

Even though there are seasonal squalls on the Galilee, this one took them by surprise. The boat was in danger of sinking and as it was filling up faster than they were doling out, they were concerned for their lives.

Yet Jesus slept. Note that not only did they wake Him, they woke Him with somewhat of a rebuke. They addressed Him properly, but added a rebuke with it: “Teacher, don’t You care that we are perishing?” 

Luke 8 reports they informed Him by saying: “Master, Master, we are perishing!”

Matthew 8 account of the same says: “Lord, save us! We are perishing!”

I believe they said all three things.

You may ask: Wouldn’t Jesus have known that a storm was a foot before saying: “Let us go to the other side?”  He did say that didn’t He? The middle of the sea is NOT the other side, is it? That right there should have given them faith enough. What could go wrong?  The Miracle Maker was with them in the boat. . .  and they were worried they would not get to the “other side?!”

I would say Jesus had all things under control.

As I see it, He had an appointment to keep on the other side. There was a man in need of His help. He was responsible for the safety of His team. He would never allow any harm to come to them. Read John 17 for your devotion and meditate on it. This team was in His care and under His protection for eternal purposes, not just for some lighthearted fun. He would never renege on His promise or duty, for the consequences would be eternal. They didn’t know it yet, but this was the team He was training to carry the gospel to the ends of the Earth.

In verse 39 Jesus got up and spoke to the wind and waves, “Silence!” He commanded. “Be still!” 

Don’t you just love that?! I am still working on being like Him . . . I find I use far too many words when addressing the enemy. I have seen others get downright agitated and noisy, shouting and even jumping up and down, yelling at Satan to get out. He just commanded, “Silence!” and “Be still!” 

And it was!!

One day there was a huge storm shaping outside our home. Since we live on a hillside, we can watch the weather come for miles. We love watching the sunrise and sunset, but we really enjoy watching weather changes as well. Over on the hills in the distance we see rain and snow squalls develop, and once in a while, even a tornado has tried to form.

One such day, as the winds were picking up, we watched lightning strikes in the distance, my husband had his camera rolling behind me, but I didn’t know it. I decided to take authority over the storm just like Jesus, only with many more words. I rebuked the wind, and commanded it to be still and silent. Only I was shouting! Suddenly the clouds responded with the loudest thunder clap I had ever heard. I just about jumped out of my skin! I leaped so fast toward the door to get out of the way, only to see my husband with the camera, recording the whole thing. I burst out laughing and said,”We must never show this to the children!”. . . and we never have!!

I need more practice.

Jesus then rebuked the disciples for their lack of faith. “Why are you so afraid?” He asked. “Do you still have no faith?”

Can you read some frustration in His comment? Awake or asleep, He was in charge of the boat, and of getting them to the other side. He had by this point shown them enough of His power, and they still didn’t get it.

All they could do was be in awe, and wonder what kind of power resided in Him.

I have been through many a storm in my life. None of my storms have looked like an actual wind and waves storm on a sea, rather they have looked like life-trials that arise suddenly to overtake and defeat me. Many a time, He has said the same to me, “Why are you so afraid?” He asked. “Do you still have no faith?”

Whether it is financial trials, or relational . . . whether a job, a death of a loved one, end of a marriage, sickness or accident, these are storms we all face.

Here is my question to you: What storms are you facing? Storms come in all shapes and sizes. What does yours look like? What are you afraid of?

Having identified your storm, you alone can answer: Is God not in the boat with you? If Jesus is in the boat, has He not promised to get you to the other side? Is He not big enough to tackle your storm with a Word? Can He not still your storm?

If you know anything about Him, you must know that what He starts He completes! His work started in you and in me will be completed. We are saved by Him, by His grace. We are not saved by anything we do, it is a gift from Him. Hence we are His workmanship, we are in the boat with Him, and He will get us to the other side, for He has a purpose for our lives just as He had for the disciples.

Ephesians 2:8 For it is by grace you have been saved through faith, and this not from yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance as our way of life.(BSB)

Know Him . . . know peace.

No Him . . . no peace.

Water-Bearer. . . Part I

Water bearer . . . II

Thou God Seest Me

Prayer Call.

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