by Roger Thomas

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When Storm Clouds Roll! (8 of 10)
Come As You Are
Roger Thomas
John 6:16-21
March 11, 2001

Two storms raged that night. The Sea of Galilee, also called the Sea of Tiberias, was actually a fairly small, deep fresh water lake, thirteen miles long by about seven miles wide. However, it lay nestled in a bowl at the base of a series of low lying mountains. To the east the Golan Heights rose a few thousand feet above the lake. To the west, the Galilean hill country hovered nearly two thousand feet above the shore. Only thirty miles or so to the west sat the Mediterranean, a full fledged ocean. Ocean weather fronts could come ashore, blow across the Jezreel Valley of central Galilee, funnel through the passes in the surrounding hills, and come roaring out into the lake with little or no warning. Because of the surrounding terrain, the storms on the Sea of Galilee were unpredictable and treacherous.

But another storm raged--this one in the hearts of the disciples. The entire day had been an emotional roller coaster. They had witnessed the feeding of the 5,000, likely the high point of their time with Jesus. But no sooner had Jesus astounded the cheering crowds than he abruptly turned them away, refusing the opportunity to be their political star, and went by himself into the hills to pray. At sunset, they decided to go on home by boat. They presumed Jesus would walk home later. About half way across, the storm hit.

Matthew, Mark, and John all tell their own versions of the story (Cf. Matthew 14: 24-33; Mark 6:47-52). The three accounts vary in the details they record. For example, it is here in Matthew's account that Peter attempts to walk on water. John leaves that out, possibly to keep the focus on Jesus. But they all emphasize the terror that gripped these men. Perhaps, it was the suddenness of the storm or the darkness of the hour or the worry about Jesus and his puzzling reaction to the adoring crowds that made this storm worse tha ...

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