And it came to pass, that, as the people pressed on him to hear the word of God, he stood by the lake of Gennesaret,…
It is the centre of the ministry of our Lord; it is not too much to say of it what Dean Stanley has said, "It is the most sacred sheet of water that the earth contains." The Rabbins say, "I have created seven seas, saith the Lord, but out of them I have chosen none but the sea of Gennesaret." In the day of our Lord, it was a scene of teeming life as well as the centre of a peculiarly hushed and hallowed solitude. No doubt, as compared with many quarters of the globe, it was secluded; but still its shores and its waves were the way of traffic. It was situated in the midst of the Jordan valley, or the great thoroughfare from Babylon and Damascus into Palestine; hence it was "the way of the sea beyond Jordan." Along its banks a wondrous vegetation spread, and full of especially beautiful birds and flowers and fruits. What a scene it must have presented — fishermen by hundreds on the Lake; in hamlets around the numerous shipbuilders; and the sails and boats of pleasure flying before the frequent gusts from the mountains. There was no other spot which would so instantly have been a conductor to the words of our Lord. There is a Divine providence in even the very spot itself. The dwellers of the Sea of Galilee were free from most of the strong prejudices which, in the south of Palestine, raised a bar to Christ's reception. There were the people of Zabulon and Nephthalim, by the way of the sea beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles. They had sat in darkness; but for that very reason they saw more clearly the great light when it came to them in the region of the shadow of death. There He came, to that spot, to preach the gospel to the poor, the weary, and the heavy laden, to seek and to save that which was lost. Where could He find what He sought so readily as in the ceaseless turmoil of those busy waters and teeming villages? Roman soldiers, centurions quartered with their slaves; here, too, the palaces of the princes. Hardy boatmen, publicans, and tax-collectors sitting at the receipt of custom, women who were sinners from neighbouring Gentile cities and villages. Thus all was prepared to concentrate and give effect to the power of His teaching by the Lake.
(E. Paxton Hood.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And it came to pass, that, as the people pressed upon him to hear the word of God, he stood by the lake of Gennesaret,