Rocking The Boat
“Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him.”
Matthew 8:23 (NIV UK)
Scholars used to question the above scripture. Was it possible for a first century Galilean fishing boat to hold Jesus and his disciples? It seemed unlikely, according to the then known facts.
In 1986, however, a now famous archaeological discovery rocked the boat, so to speak. It was made in the Sea of Galilee. A long drought had dried up some of the seabed and two local fishermen found a long, wooden boat preserved in the mud. It measured just over 25 feet (8 metres) in length, and could easily accommodate 15 to 20 people. It dated to the early first century AD: that is, to within decades of the time of Christ’s ministry. It could have been used for fishing expeditions and/or for transporting passengers from one side of the sea to the other. It has been called the “Jesus Boat” because it shows that what Matthew describes above could have happened – not that the discovery was the actual boat used by Jesus, but that it backs up the biblical description.
Metaphorically, when we become disciples and follow Jesus, we all get into the Jesus Boat. It may seem smooth sailing for a while but “suddenly a furious storm” may come up, and waves sweep over the boat and us. Our boat may get rocked and we cry out, like the disciples did: “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” Jesus gives his same response to us: “why are you so afraid?” Just as he rebuked the storms then, so he rebukes the storms of our life now and we can remain safe and sound with him despite the chaos around us (8:24-27).
We don’t know what caused the “Jesus Boat” to get stuck in that mud. Did it just get too old and out of repair? Or did it sink in some dramatic tempest all those years ago? Whatever the cause, it remains a fascinating record in that it demonstrates that Matthew’s passing description of the disciples getting into a boat to follow Jesus is authentic in its setting.
Our setting is different but just as authentic. When the reality of life tosses us back and forth so that we might fall into the stormy waves, Jesus is there to calm the seas, telling us to rest in him, to sit down and not to rock that boat!
Father, thank you, that through the storms of life, we are safe with Jesus.
Study by James Henderson
About the Author:
James Henderson is the National Ministry Leader for Grace Communion International in the UK and Ireland. You are welcome to attend any of our local congregations. For details of your nearest local congregation, check on our website, www.wcg.org.uk under the ‘Churches’ tab, or ring +44 (0)1858 437099.