The Ghost of Galilee!

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When did the ghost of Galilee appear? What chaotic events caused a group of men to witness it together when it manifested itself? What was their response to seeing such an apparition? Who or what was the ghost?

The Galilee ghost sighting we will discuss is recorded, with varying degrees of detail, by the gospel writers Matthew, Mark and John (Matthew 14, Mark 6 and John 6).

Just before the Passover (John 6:4), in the early part of 29 A.D., Jesus and his disciples attempt to escape the crowds constantly following them (Luke 9:10 - 12, Mark 6:31 - 32). They grab a boat and sail across the Sea of Galilee to a wilderness area south of Bethsaida (Luke 9:10 - 12).

A swarm of people, however, tracks the Lord's progress on the lake and knows where he landed. After they find him Christ ends up not only teaching the multitudes from a nearby hill, he also miraculously feeds the 5,000 men, along with women and children, using only five fishes and two loaves of bread!

Jesus, as sunset approaches, tells his twelve disciples to board their boat and go ahead of him to the northern Galilee Sea area of Capernaum - Bethsaida (Mark 6:45, John 6:17). His plan is to meet up with them after dismissing the crowd and praying to God.

Trouble at sea

The disciples, soon after leaving shore, experience significant trouble trying to direct their boat. A strong north wind and large waves begin to batter the vessel and drag it southward in spite of their rowing. Before long the storm has forcefully shoved the tired travelers roughly 3.1 to 3.7 miles (5 to 6 kilometers) into the middle of Galilee's sea (Matthew 14:24, John 6:19)!

Location of Ghost Sighting on Sea of Galilee!

Scared by a ghost

Sometime after 3 a.m., the weary disciples see something in the chaotic waves that so startles them they exclaim, "It's a ghost!" (Matthew 14:26, Mark 6:49 - 50).

The Greek word used by Matthew and Mark to describe what they thought they saw is phantasma (Strong's #G5326). This word, meaning a phantasm, specter or apparition, is only used in these two places in Scripture. It is a different Greek word than pneuma (Strong's #G4151) which is mistranslated almost 100 times in the King James Bible as "ghost."

Who was it?

Jesus, aware that his friends were experiencing difficulties on the lake (Mark 6:48), finished praying sometime after 3 a.m. (Mark 6:48). He then decided to walk on Galilee's stormy waters to meet up with his friends. It's easy to see why the disciples, at the center of a tumultuous storm in the darkest time of night, were frightened and thought a ghost was coming directly toward them!

The Lord quells everyone's fears of a ghost by stating, "Be of good courage; it is I. Do not be afraid" (Matthew 14:27). After Peter attempts to walk on water but fails (Matthew 14:28 - 31), both he and Christ get in the boat.

Yet another miracle?

The sea becomes calm after Christ enters the boat (Matthew 14:32, Mark 6:51). John also reveals the moment Jesus got in the boat it arrived at Gennesaret on the western end of Galilee (John 6:21, see also Matthew 14:34, Mark 6:53).

Jesus, however, the "ghost of galilee," had gotten in the boat while it was in the middle of the sea. The boat was a distance of roughly 3.5 miles (5.6 kilometers) from Gennesaret! Several Biblical commentaries state that John's language conveys a sudden and surprising event. It is entirely possible the Lord, once he stepped in the ship, performed yet another miracle by instantly transporting it to the shore.

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