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This fall I had the opportunity to share a message with a group of folks down in Iowa. (That’s what people are called in the rural Midwest … “folks.”) I was teaching about what I affectionately dubbed “The Last Breakfast” from John 21. Check it out. It really was Christ’s last meal with His disciples.
While doing my research, I became fascinated with the Sea of Galilee. We hear about this sea all the time, but I didn’t realize exactly how often. You see, the Sea of Galilee goes by different names. The “Sea of Galilee” is the Roman name, and it’s the one with which we’re most familiar. However John, in his gospel, calls it the Sea Tiberias (John 6:1). Matthew, Mark, and Luke all call it the Sea of Gennesaret [geh NESS ah ray]. Gennesaret means garden of riches.
Are you keeping tally? That’s three … so far.
This lake didn’t just spring up in the New Testament. (Though it is partially fed by underground springs.) Nope, it’s mentioned several times in the Old Testament as well. In fact, Gennesaret is the Greek word for the original Hebrew name of the lake which was Chinnereth, sometimes spelled Kinneret because of the pronunciation (Numbers 34:11 and Joshua 13:27). The Hebrew word kinnor meant harp or lyre. If you notice, the shape of the lake is a little bit like a harp. However, Chinnereth also means “heart-shaped” or “place of the heart.”
That’s five, if you’re counting.
I really appreciate details like this. Place of the heart.
Did you know that eighteen of Jesus’ thirty-three recorded miracles were performed at Chinnereth/Sea of Galilee?
Did you also realize that it’s from this very place that He taught most of His teachings? He often stood in a boat on the Sea and spoke to the multitudes. If you’ve ever been in a boat in the middle of a lake, have you noticed how easy it is to hear people in a nearby boat? The water helps to project sound. I’m guessing that’s how thousands were able to come and hear Christ teach without an electronic amplification system.
In Matthew 28:7, an angel announces to the women at the empty tomb to “go quickly and tell His disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead. In fact, He is going ahead of you to Galilee; you will see Him there.’ ” Then in 28:16 the disciples hoofed it to Galilee. “The eleven disciples traveled to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had directed them.” The rest of the story picks up in John 21:1 “After this Jesus revealed himself again (the 3rd and final time) to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias, and he revealed himself in this way.” (insertion is mine)
I kind of think the Sea of Galilee (by whichever name you prefer) was a place of Jesus’ heart. What do you think?
Now, as you read through your Bible this year, keep your eyes open. You might be surprised to discover that you’re reading about the Sea of Galilee when you didn’t even know it.