The Sea of Galilee was not what I expected. It is actually a large lake, just slightly over twice the size of Lake Meredith in the Texas Panhandle. It is only about 13 miles from north to south, and 8 miles across. Several small towns are situated along its shores, most of which were ancient fishing villages, and many were places where Jesus spent time…particularly in Capernaum.
When I would read in the Bible about these places…Capernaum, Bethsaida, Tiberius, Magdala…all along the shores of the Sea of Galilee…my sense was always that the sea was quite large, and there was significant distance between the cities. When we visited there a few years back, I was completely surprised by the size of the “sea” and the proximity of the towns.
The reality is, in Jesus’ time, the cities were little more than a group of fishermen’s houses built around natural harbors along the shore of the lake. Capernaum, where Simon Peter and his brother, Andrew lived, is on the northern end. It is only 5 miles from Capernaum to Magdala, where Mary (the Magdalene) lived. Most researchers believe that Bethsaida, where Jesus’ uncle and aunt, Zebedee and Salome, and their sons James and John lived, was situated between those two villages, just two or three miles from both.
All of these people fished daily on the same lake. Every year they all traveled along the same roads on the week-long journey to Jerusalem for Passover, and after the feast days, they returned home together. They may well have made the trek two additional times each year to celebrate Jewish feast days in the Holy City.
It was not a large population of fisherman spread along that five or six mile stretch of the lake shore, so the obvious conclusion is that they all knew each other well. Their children grew up together. Jesus, who lived a two day walk away in Nazareth, traveled down to visit His cousins on occasion, and almost certainly His family joined their relatives along the way in their annual trips to Jerusalem.
However, when you read the biblical account of Jesus calling Peter, Andrew, James, and John to be His apostles, it is easy to think that they were strangers.
As he was walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon who is called Peter, and his brother Andrew, casting a net into the sea; they were fishermen. He said to them, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” At once they left their nets and followed him. He walked along from there and saw two other brothers, James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They were in a boat, with their father Zebedee, mending their nets. He called them, and immediately they left their boat and their father and followed him. 4:18-22 NASB
But these were actually His cousins, and their partners in business. These were young men that Jesus had grown up knowing, perhaps confiding to them His destiny, and theirs. That conjecture is basis for our new play, “The Carpenter’s Son” and I am very excited about you seeing the result.
Our aim has always been to reverently convey the person and the personality of Jesus in both the plays and the songs, though He is often revealed from unexpected perspectives. Our audiences heard that in “Hands of a Carpenter”, which we performed during the Christmas concert. This play also comes from a similar point of view. It is a sweet and revealing portrayal of the humanity of Jesus, presented as a first glimpse of our Savior and those who would be His apostles a decade before Jesus called them to be “fishers of men.”
I am particularly delighted that Christopher Smith, who so beautifully portrayed Jesus in our 2014 production of “Bethlehem”, will be returning to the role in “The Carpenter’s Son”. I know Chris brings a dedicated heart and authentic love for his Savior to the role. I hope you will make your plans to attend. “The Carpenter’s Son” begins February 13th, with performances every Saturday at 3:00.