If Bible characters won Oscars, she would win Best Actress in a Supporting Role.
She’s in soooo many scenes, but never takes center stage. She is content to play her part. Intriguing, sometimes stormy, ubiquitous — yet in the background. She’s in Mark 1, Luke 5, Matthew 15, and John 21. She is always there, prompting the narrative along. She is a beautiful accompaniment to the story, but never the star.
I met her last week, and she was beautiful. She was breathtaking. I was star-struck to be in her presence. I nearly trembled.
Her name is the Sea of Galilee, a star we recognize but to whom we never give full credit.
And there, splashing about upon her still, strong surface, a couple dozen boats. Fisherman and tourists simultaneously soak her in. For some, the Sea of Galilee means livelihood. For others, a single visit will mark their memories forever.
Your livelihood or your daydreams — she is worthy of both.
Jesus dictated to her waves and taught from her surface. Simon Peter fished her depths to scratch out a living and walked upon her waters. She was criss-crossed during the ministry of Christ dozens of times. She saw it all.
When I sat in the boat, guided by a man named David who looked the part of a first century fisherman, I was surprised to see that I could see every edge of the Sea. Over there is where the pigs spilled over the cliff, invaded by demons. That’s the hillside where the Feeding of the 5,000 took place. There’s Magdala, home to Mary. And there’s Capernaum, over there, home to Peter & Co.
It’s visible — all of it — from the boat on the Sea. In that way, her size is unimpressive. I thought she would be bigger, what with the events she played host to. But she’s manageable. Digestible. You can take it all in from a single, small boat in the middle. How can a body of water be both underwhelming and overwhelming, all at once?
That’s what actresses in a supporting role do, of course.
Jesus is the star of this show. The Sea plays a respectable wing man, but Jesus is running point. In that way, we are all the Sea. Maybe that explains my affection for her. Maybe we’re a lot alike, she and I.
You and her, too.
Without Jesus, we’re at best a recreational lake. Our size is unimpressive. We’re insignificant.
If Jesus doesn’t do what He does, the Sea of Galilee is the Sea of Chinnereth, mentioned once in the Book of Numbers and nothing you and I would ever care to visit. If you needed a place to water ski, it’d be a decent choice. Otherwise, who cares?
But Jesus did what He did. He walked on the water. He pulled in a record catch when the pros couldn’t get a bite. The Sermon on the Mount, countless miracles, signs and wonders — it all happened on her shores. Read the Gospels and you’ll conclude that someone with a decent arm could throw a rock into the water from where Jesus did all this stuff. His ministry was centered here, largely. Jesus told the waves to shut up, and they did. When he rose from the dead and came to see his old friends, Peter got so excited he swam from his boat to the shore to have breakfast. Jesus has a way of doing that — he takes a mediocre scene and elevates it to new heights. He excites.
He takes a nameless, faceless, insignificant lake and turns it into one of the most moving places on earth.
He takes nameless, faceless, insignificant fisherman and turns them into biblical heroes.
The Sea was happy to play host to it all.
May I do the same.
Like the Sea, may I simply be a platform on which Jesus can do what He does. May He walk upon me, teach from me, and fish my depths. May I surrender a record catch. May I bear witness to His wonders and, like the Sea, may I remain content to stay in the background.
We are the Sea. Our definition, our value, our purpose comes not from our shores or our villages or our waves, but from the Man who instructs us to be still, to sit back, and to enjoy the show.