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Boats: routine transportation in Galilee

May 13, 2024

Daily Scripture

John 6:23-25, Matthew 9:1, 13:2

John 6
23 Some boats came from Tiberias, near the place where they had eaten the bread over which the Lord had given thanks. 24 When the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they got into the boats and came to Capernaum looking for Jesus. 25 When they found him on the other side of the lake, they asked him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?”

Matthew 9
1 Boarding a boat, Jesus crossed to the other side of the lake and went to his own city.

Matthew 13
2 Such large crowds gathered around him that he climbed into a boat and sat down. The whole crowd was standing on the shore.

Daily Reflection & Prayer

In inland Leawood, Kansas, “the lake” or “the boat” most often brings up mental images of relaxation and fun in a resort-type atmosphere. In Jesus’ day, for most of the people who lived in Galilee, “lake” and “boat” were matter of fact daily realities about “work” more than relaxation. Today, most of us “jump in the car” without thinking that’s anything very exotic. For most Galileans, “getting in the boat” was less a special event than a practical way to get around.

  • One big difference in the boats that sailed on Galilee from most of today’s small craft: the boats on Galilee had no motors. In ideal conditions, they might have had sails, but often oars were the only source of moving the boat through waves or currents. (Click here for information and pictures of an actual boat from Jesus’ day recovered from the Sea of Galilee.) In what ways can you make your “ordinary” means of transportation available for Jesus’ kingdom?
  • Boats in Galilee were small, so they could be a controlled space. Matthew 13:2 (like Luke 5:1-3) showed Jesus using a boat as a teaching platform. It gave him space from a gathered crowd yet was close enough that people could hear him clearly. At times the boat was a personal refuge: ““In the Gospels, Jesus frequently enters a boat on the Sea of Galilee in order to escape the crowds (Mk 3:94:1).” * Even Jesus sometimes needed a “safe” space. What are yours?


Lord Jesus, I sometimes forget that your life was not like a movie filled with constant intense scenes. Thank you for being with me on my “ordinary” days as well as the more dramatic ones. Amen.

GPS Insights

Picture of Valerie Nagel

Valerie Nagel

Valerie Nagel serves as a Connection and Care Pastor at Resurrection Leawood. She was born, raised, and attended college in California. Her Master of Divinity degree is from Duke Divinity School. She began serving as an associate pastor in the Rio Texas Conference in 2011 in the Austin area and San Antonio. From congregational care and welcoming guests to leading in worship, Valerie loves the ministry of the local church. She juggles ministry with being a mom to Caleb (born 2012) and Jacob (born 2015), friend, avid reader, lover of the outdoors, beginner to the world of CrossFit, and foodie.

As a pastor, I enjoy learning more about the cultural context of the passage of Scripture we are reading so that I can better understand what we’re reading. I appreciate when Pastor Adam shares pictures and videos in his sermons. In yesterday’s sermon we saw a clip of a storm on the Sea of Galilee. That along with a picture of a replica boat from the time of Jesus gave me a better sense of what it was like for the disciples to travel by boat, especially when the conditions weren’t good. But when the weather was good then traveling by boat was normal and a part of their routine. When I get in the car I don’t often think about my car. I think about my kids and where we are going, getting to work on time, or even the details of the route to a store that I need to find.

Our brains enjoy routine and novelty. One of the challenges of a routine is that I can take things for granted. But when I get a flat tire or a road I usually travel on is closed for construction then I am jolted by the inconvenience and reminded that my car, the roads I travel, and so much of my daily life is a gift. When there are storms in my life I am aware of how deeply I need God. The challenge, I find, is remembering how to foster my relationship with God on a daily basis when life becomes routine.

Too often I put off self-reflection until Advent, Lent, or New Year’s. While those are good times to think about myself, my values, my behaviors, my habits, and my relationship with God, every single day that we wake up we have an opportunity to connect with God and to reflect on our lives. Whether you would like to learn or begin a new spiritual discipline–like trying the prayer of Examen, reading the Bible in a year, listening to music from the COR Worship Collective, or joining us for Serve Saturday-–my invitation is for us to find a way to connect with God right in the midst of our routines. May you remember that whether life is routine or the storms have come, you are loved by God and Jesus is with you in the boat (or in our case, the car).

© 2024 Resurrection: A United Methodist Church. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

* Article “Boat” in Leland Ryken, James C. Wilhoit and Tremper Longman III, general editors, Dictionary of Biblical Imagery. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1998, p. 102.