Most people don’t think of common things used by Jesus. We must remember he came to earth as a man and used many of the day to day items everyone around him used. Boats, in themselves quite humble, were used by Jesus many times in his ministry.
Jesus had settled in Capernaum which is by the sea probably for two reasons. It was much larger than Nazareth and his ministry would reach more people and the setting fulfilled one of Isaiah’s prophecies as it says in (Matthew 4:14-16). Capernaum being a seaside town had many boats. This is where Jesus met four of his disciples Peter, Andrew, James, and John. (Matthew 4:18, 21)
Peter took a little convincing after this first meeting to follow Jesus. He consented to take Jesus a little offshore so he could preach. (Luke 5:3) It gave Jesus separation from the crowd on shore rather like the stage in a modern church. At the completion of the message in a kind of payment for the use of the boat Jesus arranged a huge catch of fish, enough to nearly sink two boats. According to’ “The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia,” The boats were probably between 20 and 30 feet long and 7 feet wide. It would take a lot of fish to not just fill but overload two of those boats to near sinking.
He preached from a boat more than once. The parable of the sower in Matthew was also preached from a boat with the multitude standing on shore.
Boats were used by Jesus much like today’s ministers use airplanes. Though a great deal of Jesus’ ministry was done traveling by simply walking. There were a lot of times he crossed the sea of Galilee by boat. On one occasion he chose to send the disciples by boat, but he simply walked on top of the water to meet them (Matthew 14, Mark 6, and John 6)
Sometimes Jesus would use a boat looking for privacy as in Matthew 14:13 “...He withdrew from there in a boat.” Even that didn’t work because the people followed him on foot. One of those times he was pursued by the crowd which led to the feeding of the 5000. This was when he had the disciples go ahead of him to the other side, in the boat and joined them in route on foot. (Matthew 6:45-51and John 6:16-21). Even on this occasion He was followed to the other side of the lake but the crowd was at a loss to know how He crossed the lake when they had seen the disciples get in boats and they didn’t know how Jesus had gotten across with no boats available (John 6:22) On this occasion the entire crowd had crossed in small boats (vs, 22-24).
In another crossing (Mark 4:35-41) Jesus was so exhausted He was sleeping during the crossing. There was a violent storm which even had the seasoned fishermen afraid for their lives. Jesus got up and rebuked the storm. After that the sea became perfectly calm, Jesus asked them, “...How is it that you have no faith?” (Mark 4:40).
Jesus taught the disciples about the “leaven” while traveling across the lake after feeding the 4000 in (Mark 8:10, 14) Probably a lot of His teaching was done to just the disciples while crossing the sea. As some things were not for the crowds.
After healing the Gerasene demoniac where the demons went into the pigs he was asked to leave. He left by boat. Not all his travel was detailed (Luke 8:26-37) as to how he got from place to place. However there is enough evidence to support the idea there might have been more travel by boat than directly mentioned in the scriptures.
Annette C. Agnello
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