Lesson 60: They Came Ashore in the Land of Gennesaret
Matthew 14:34-36, Mark 6:53-56, John 6:22-42
A Blending of The Four Gospel Records. Lesson # 60. This lesson is a continuation our last lesson when Jesus came to the 12 walking on the water in the wee hours of the morning, the wind ceased and John said "immediately the ship was at land whither they went." Undoubtedly they were hoping to come ashore at Capernaum but the wind had deflected them two or three miles south of their desired city of Capernaum. They must have been dogged tired, exhausted, sleepy and a little hyper at the same time. Have you ever been in that kind of mental state? That miraculous meal of fish and barley bread had undoubtedly run it course as the sun began to light the eastern sky and give some reflection on the lake from behind them. Being so tired, they undoubted came ashore just where they had happened to land in the plain of Gennesaret. Why don't you mark that on your MAP-WORKSHEET before we read. Gennesaret was apparently NOT a city; but a plain between the sea of Galilee and the mountains. I made it #16 on your map. It's on the west side of the sea and part of the territory of Galilee. The spelling is in Matthew 14:34, where we're going to start our reading as soon as you get Gennesaret posted on your map. Luke doesn't cover this occasion; so, we'll read Matthew, Mark and John in their natural order. Let's read the rest of Matt. ch. 14; beginning in v.34. Are you ready? Let's read. "And when they were gone over, they came into the land of Gennesaret. And when the men of that place had knowledge of him, they sent out into all that country round about, and brought unto him all that were diseased; and besought him that they might only touch the hem of his garment: and as many as touched were made perfectly whole." O.K. I would guess those old fishermen put something together for breakfast there on the shore of lake Galilee as the sun began to glisten on the calm water. When the natives discovered that little boat at day break the word began to filter across the plain. Jesus was in their neighborhood! As they began to assemble the sick; Jesus and at least part of the twelve undoubtedly headed on foot across the plain in the general direction of Capernaum passing through the towns and villages of Gennesaret on their way. JESUS WAS COMING and the word went out.
Mark has four verses, let's read that. Mark 6:53-56, the last four verses in Mark ch. 6. Let's read, beginning in v.53 "And when they had passed over, they came into the land of Gennesaret, and drew to the shore. And when they were come out of the ship, straightway they knew him, and ran through that whole region and round about, and began to carry about in beds those that were sick, where they heard he was. And whithersoever he entered, into villages, or cities, or country, they laid the sick in the streets, and besought him that they might touch if it were but the border of his garment: and as many as touched him were made whole."
Maybe I should tell you THAT completes all of the first six chapters of the book of Mark. Everything in Mark should be highlighted down through the verses we just read. And Mark's account is very close to what we read in Matthew. Some ran ahead of Jesus an began to alert the villagers according to v.55. By the time Jesus and his disciples got to them; they had their sick out and in a place accessible to Jesus. And Jesus healed them all. And I get the feeling that this occasion was •very much like the places where Jesus had been and the places where he has send the twelve in recent weeks.
O.K. John gives us a little different perspective of that day. Let's begin with John 6:22 and read down through v.24. Three more verses, three long verses, in the book of John. Ready? Beginning in John 6:22, "The day following, when the people, which stood on the other side of the sea, saw that there was none other boat there, save that one whereinto his disciples were entered, and that Jesus went not with his disciples into the boat, but that his disciples were gone away alone; (Howbeit there came other boats from Tiberias nigh unto the place where they did eat bread, after that the Lord had given thanks:) when the people therefore saw that Jesus was not there, neither his disciples, they also took shipping, and came to Capernaum seeking for Jesus."
Alright, you will remember that the evening before, after feeding the five thousand with fish and barley loaves; Jesus apparently left the crowd in a rather covert way. Some, observed that the apostles left in a boat but that Jesus was not with the twelve when the boat had left. The next morning some began to search for Jesus. Now, whether these were the same ones that wanted to make Jesus king by force, or not, we don't know. As I pointed out before; they could see several miles across the lake and the distance across the lake where we're talking about is not that great. So, they could see far enough, chances are, to locate boats and in some cases perhaps the crowds as well. Some, that were looking for Jesus, the next morning were in boats also. That's the point of the parenthesis in v.23. Boats came from Tiberias which was a city on the west side of the sea of Galilee, south of the plain of Gennesaret. Let's post that on your map right now! City # 17. Tiberias. The spelling is in John 6:23. Did you get that? City # 17. The city of Tiberias was built by Herod Antipas; the one that beheaded John the Baptist. And Herod's castle was in or near the city of Tiberias; which incidentally had been built or re-dedicated in honor of the Emperor at that time, which you will remember was Tiberias Caesar. Back in the first verse of this chapter, John made reference to the sea of Tiberias, i.e. that part of the Sea of Galilee that faced the city of Tiberias. Now, the point in v.23 is that the boats came from Tiberias and went back to the place near Bethsaida where Jesus had fed the 5000 the day before. You can see by your map the straightest route would be directly across the lake in a northeast direction. So, that's the reason they missed Jesus, who was in the plain of Gennesaret at that time. But, when they didn't find Jesus in or around Bethsaida, they came back to Capernaum, v.24. So, when they finally located Jesus that day either in Capernaum or on his way to Capernaum; they were puzzled how he got there you see.
Now, let's read v.25. We're still in John ch. 6. Let's read v.25. "And when they had found him on the other side of the sea, they said unto him, Rabbi, when earnest thou hither?" Would they have believe Jesus if he had told them the truth that he walked across the lake? Well, any way Jesus just avoided their question and quickly got down to the bottom line of the reason for their coming. Nevertheless this starts a lengthy conversation that continues almost 50 verses and takes us to the end of John ch. 6. Most of this conversation took place in a synagogue in Capernaum, we learn this down in v.59. The Jews asked Jesus about a half dozen question during the conversation; but, Jesus' answers to those questions are tremendously revealing. John's record here gives us much insight (#1) into the teachings of Jesus, and (#2) it helps us understand the stance of the Jews, their concepts and their grasp of the O.T. We, of course, have the advantage of 20/20 hindsight; thus, John in a round-about way, makes the doctrine of Jesus Christ very real to us. So, I think we'd better break it down question by question and answer by answer. You must remember that NOT ONLY did Jesus hear their question; John told us back in John 2:25 that Jesus "knew what was in man", i.e. Jesus saw ALSO the motive behind their questions, and you must keep this in mind, as you analyze Jesus' answers. Jesus was very pointed in his answers; so, he went straight to the foundation of their problems. But, let's read two more verses. Now the Jews had just asked the question in v.25, Rabbi, when camest thou hither? This is Jesus' answer in v.26-27. Are you ready? "Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat the loaves, and were filled. Labor not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed." In effect, Jesus said their real concern was filling their belly, NOT obedience. You see, they were discounting and ignoring the real meaning of the miracles that Jesus did in feeding the 5000 as well as all the other miracles they had seen, no doubt. But, satisfying their appetite really got their attention. And, Jesus said THAT was why they came that day, for another picnic. That seems so shallow and yet Jesus SAID that was their motive. So, Jesus lectured them on this attitude in v.27. Don't waste your time on things that perish. Seek instead that which is enduring and everlasting! Now, of. course, that doesn't mean that Jesus was opposed to eating bread, obviously. He had just fed 5000 less than 24 hours before. The point is: life is more than meat and drink; and the body is MORE than raiment, as Jesus said in the sermon on the mount (Matt. 6:25). He said the priority was: "seek ye first the kingdom of God." (Matt. 6:33). AND, don't forget that, that scripture, said to seek MORE than the kingdom. It says, SEEK HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS. Now, look at the last part of v.27, "which the Son of man shall give unto you..." God has granted it! The word "sealed" at the end of v.27 [KJV] means approved. God the Father has approved Jesus, and Jesus will give it to you, (that is) if you seek it. Don't miss that! That's part of v.26. But, the question then becomes how do we seek it? O.K. that's their next question, v.28. Let's read it! V.28-29.
"Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent." Alright, now that all sounds straight forward enough. How do we work the works of God? And Jesus' answer came down to simply: faith in Jesus. Simply BELIEVE IN Jesus. But, don't be so shallow, here, as to miss THIS point. When Jesus said "believe," that not only included the mental process of accepting some evidence. That included the appropriate response to that belief, as well. In other words, when you believe in something; you will NATURALLY act accordingly. At a later time the N.T. writer James said it like this, "faith without works is dead..." (Jas. 2:26). And, of course, Jesus was not talking about dead faith here in John 6:29. Obviously they were to believe in a living, acting, performing, vibrant way. Now, did they believe in Jesus in that sense? Let's find out, v.30-31. Are you ready? "They said therefore unto him, What sign showest thou then, that we may see, and believe thee? what dost thou work? Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat." O.K. do you get the drift? To paraphrase, they were simply saying something like this: Jesus, you're going to have to show us more than feeding 5000 people, if you want US to accept YOU as the messiah. You see, their point is that Moses sent manna enough to feed millions for almost 40 years back there in the book of Exodus and the book of Numbers. So, the Messiah is to be greater than Moses, you see. So, show us something great! Look at the end of v.30, "what dost thou work?"
Alright, how did Jesus answer that? V.32-33. Tune it in close. "Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world." Now, do you follow Jesus? Jesus was saying, That manna you are calling bread back there in the wilderness was physical, it was for the stomach. It was not spiritual. After they ate manna back there, they died. Look down at v.49, how Jesus rephrased the thought. You see, they were trying to compare physical things with spiritual things. Jesus was saying, simply: you've missed the point. Jesus was talking about living bread. Do you remember what Jesus said to the Samaritan woman by the well. Jesus tried to get her to think in terms of, "Living water." What did the woman say? "Sir, give me this water that I thirst not, neither come to draw." Jesus used exactly the same thought here; except, that the subject is bread instead of water. Now look at v.34, here in John. "Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread." Just like the Samaritan woman, right?
Now, notice something! The stage was set. They asked the question that Jesus had led them to ask. So, Jesus was finally ready to drive the point home in v.35-40. They said, GIVE US THIS BREAD. Let's read. "And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. But I say unto you, That ye also have seen me, and believe not. All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day."
Jesus compared himself to many things. He said, I am the way, Iam the truth, I am the life, AND I am the door of the sheepfold (John 10:7). Notice that in v.35, where we just read, Jesus said, "I am the bread of life", (that is) spiritual bread as compared to physical bread. So, when WE COME TO JESUS we are partaking of that spiritual bread which can supply our hunger forever. Did you notice, Jesus asserted he came down from heaven, (that is) He is the messiah or the Son of God. Jesus said that when someone comes to God; then God places them in the care of the messiah. Isn't that another way of simply expressing the kingdom idea. To be in the care of Jesus is to be a citizen of that kingdom. What did Jesus teach the 5000? He, "spake unto them of the kingdom of God..." Luke 9:11. How does one come to God? By believing in Jesus (v.35). Notice that COMETH and BELIEVETH are used in a parallel sense, In v.35. Do you remember John's prologue? John 1:12? It all starts with faith. Faith gives us the power to become. Now, NOT just any kind of faith; but, a living faith. Faith that causes one to say and do accordingly, (that is) an obedient faith. These Jews said, "give us this bread." (v.34). Did they accept that bread of life? Defined as Jesus Christ, God's Son, the messiah? Here's their answer, v.41-42. Let's read! "The Jews then murmured at him, because he said, I am the bread which came down from heaven. And they said, Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? how is it then that he saith, I came down from heaven?" Did you catch this? What is the PROMISE to those that obey Jesus? Jesus will raise them up again at the last day. That's at the end of v.39. What's Jesus' doctrine? Read this one more time and think about what it is saying TO YOU. And then, have a good day.