– Opelika-Auburn News
Unforgettable the breathtaking
beauty of the Sea of Galilee
was an unforgettable moment – my first sight of the Sea of Galilee in Israel.
Our little group was riding in a bus. As we came around a curve and over a
hill, there stretched out before us was the beautiful sea so prominent in the
stories of Jesus. The sight was so breathtaking that I can close my eyes and
relive the moment even today.
near the Golan Heights, the Sea of Galilee is also known as Lake Kinneret or Lake Tiberias. It is
the largest freshwater lake in Israel and being below sea level it is the lowest
freshwater lake on earth. A popular tourist site the lake is the main source of
water for the population centers of Israel.
sea was much larger than I had supposed – about 13 miles long and eight miles
wide. There was a strong wind the day we went for a short boat ride. An
experienced seaman told us that squalls can develop quickly, without warning,
when the winds come up.
his Gospel Mark describes such a furious squall that threatened to sink the
boat that Jesus and his disciples were using. The storm was so fierce that the
disciples feared for their lives. And they were surprised and frustrated to find
Jesus asleep in the rear of the boat. Weary of ministering for hours to others,
Jesus was getting much needed rest.
that Jesus seemed not to care about their plight, the disciples woke the Master
in the hope that he could save them. Jesus arises and rebukes the wind and the
sea, commanding them to become peaceful and be still. Immediately, Mark says, the
wind and the waves obeyed his voice.
demonstration of Jesus’ power surprised the disciples but it should
not surprise us. After all, the Bible tells us that Jesus helped to create the
world. John even says that Jesus, as the Word, was with God in the beginning
and that “through him all things were made.” So if Jesus is the Creator, should
he not have power over his own creation?
Mark wants his
readers to understand that Jesus is the Son of God and his power and authority
have no limit. Indeed, the disciples have no need to be afraid as long as Jesus
is with them.
real issue is not about Jesus’ power over nature but the need of the disciples
to replace fear with faith. Jesus confronts them about their lack of faith;
they were handcuffed by fear. Fear paralyzes. Faith liberates. Faith in God is
the biblical antidote for fear.
Gospel of Mark uses another incident to demonstrate the power of Jesus – his encounter
with a demon-possessed man living in a cemetery. Evidently this story’s purpose
is to show that Jesus has power over the demonic as well as power over the
people doubt the reality of demon possession. They reason that belief in demons
was the result of first century ignorance and superstition.
there are hideous evils deeds for which demon possession seems the most
plausible explanation. To explain incidents of violent evil as “mental illness”
leaves unanswered the question of what produces mental illness.
reasonable conclusion is what Jesus believed – that Satan, or the Evil One as
Jesus called him, is responsible for the demonic power that seeks to destroy
life and separate people from life in God.
a world where the demonic forces of evil seek to makes us slaves of fear, it is
heartening to read what Mark proclaims in his gospel – the “good news” that a
loving God sent Jesus to help us.
invites us to believe that Jesus is the Son of God, the Creator and our
Redeemer. He alone, Mark says, can heal the brokenness of our souls and give us
peace with God.
faith, “When the storms of life are raging,” we can call upon Jesus to stand
beside us. We can ask him to calm our fears, break the demonic chains that bind
us and set us free to live life to the fullest.
I can recall with joy my first view of the beautiful Sea of Galilee, I realize
there is something more beautiful. And that is the inner beauty of a soul that
has been changed by the calming power of the living Christ. + + +