In Focus: The Storms of Galilee (Mark 4:37)

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We talked a bit about the Sea of Galilee's size and how it was more than just a regular lake. It is a massive body of water in a valley between some fair sized mountains. The geography of the Sea of Galilee becomes especially important as we move into verse 37.

"And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling." Mark 4:37

In Guatemala, we will visit Lake Atitlan. It too is another massive lake that could well be called the Sea of Atitlan. From the docks in Panajachel where we will be staying this at the end of our tri to the docks in San Pedro where we we will visit a local church, it is a 6 mile journey in the boat. As Dale, John, and I set out with 13 other people as well as the captain, the water was calm and looked like glass as we cut through it with the motor. Dale and I set back with the captain at the back of the boat. As we approached the midway point, the water began to get rough and the boat began to bounce. There was no storm and the nearest cloud was at the far end of the lake. We had just reached the center of the lake. It was hot day and the cool air from the mountains across the lake had descended on the lake providing a steady strong gust of wind that stirred the lake enough to cause fairly significant waves. The captain says that when a serious storm approaches they can't do much except wait it out because it can get fierce pretty quickly.

The Sea of Galilee has a similar feature with the valley having a very temperate warm climate and the high mountains on the side providing access to cool winds. When the two collide over the water, incredible furious storms develop. The major difference between Atitlan and Galilee is the depth of the water. Lake Atitlan is at least at least 1024 feet deep at its lowest known depth (it has yet to be completely charted on the bottom). This depth provides immense energy absorption when storms hit keeping waves from being too large. The Sea of Galilee is only 200ft deep at its deepest. When these storms hit suddenly and furiously, the waves that result bring danger to even modern fishing vessels.

All of this explanation to provide a background to a simple verse we might overlook. When Mark writes "And a great windstorm arose" in verse 37, he is descibing something most of us have no experience with. It is a storm NO one would want to be in simply in a small ancient fishing vessel. The fact that it is the professional fisherman who are fearing for their lives is a visible display of the intensity of the storm around them. It wasn't just a passing shower.

It is important to understant the storm and danger they faced before we ever consider the reaction of Jesus at such a time. If we just glance over verse 37 without fully pondering this fact, we lose the true reason Mark includes this story.
Here is a video of a small storm on Galilee in a MUCH larger/safer boat.
For a video of a parachute flight over the Sea of Galilee, CLICK HERE!

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