Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Group Studies - Over My Head

Icebreaker: Thermo Nuclear War. Give each person one water balloon. Explain the boundaries (they can be anywhere from a small 20’ x 20’ square, to a soccer field). The object is to be the last one with a water balloon. You are alive as long as you have a water balloon. However, if someone pegs you, and their water balloon explodes and you get wet, then you are out, and you must give your water balloon to them. If you go out of bounds you are out, and you must implode the water balloon upon yourself. If you throw your balloon and it explodes not hitting anyone, then you are out. If you throw your balloon and it does not explode, you can re-gather it and stay in the game. The last one standing wins.

Background Summary: JC finds out that his cousin John (the Baptist) just had his head chopped off for standing up for what was right. After it happens, John's buddies go find JC to tell him the sad news. And JC is clearly upset by it. All he wants is to go off and be by himself for awhile. And so he took some of his closest friends (the disciples) across the Sea of Galilee in a boat (probably from the west to the mountains on the east side) to get away from all the crowds and craziness that was always around him.

http://www.bible-history.com/geography/ancient-israel/israel-first-century.html (map)
The Sea of Galilee is about 60 miles from Jerusalem and at one time was 13 miles long and 8 miles wide at its greatest extent, although recent changes have reduced its length. Its surface is about 700 feet below sea level, and it is about 150 feet deep at its lowest point. The Jordan River flows through it, providing much of its water supply, there are springs in the lake floor. The fresh waters of the lake are clean, and they have always been well stocked with a variety of fish.

Several towns dotted its shores in NT times, but almost all of them (Bethsaida, Capernaum, Tiberias, etc.) stood on its northern and western shores because the eastern slopes rise more precipitously from the water. The sea was the highway for considerable traffic between Damascus and the Mediterranean, and the customhouse duties from which Christ took Matthew brought huge revenue. Hot springs along the western shore, especially at Tiberias, brought multitudes to be cured. The high hills surrounding the below sea-level water combined with abrupt temperature changes contributed to sudden and violent storms on the lake, as various NT passages indicate (Mark 4:35-41; 6:45-52; John 6:16-21).

It was on or around this lake that Jesus did many of His wonderful miracles. 18 of the 33 recorded miracles of Christ were probably done in the immediate neighborhood of the Sea of Galilee. In the city of Capernaum alone He performed 10 of these.

But the crowds find out where JC and the disciples are bearing. So they hoof it around the shoreline. It’s likely that this large crowd (estimated at over 10,000 people) traveled over ten miles by foot over some pretty rugged terrain. By the time JC and disciples land, the people are waiting for them, and the crowds is totally exhausted. And the Bible says that JC was so moved by their devotion that he healed those who were sick, taught them about God and then worked some crazy miracle where he fed all 10,000 of them with five loaves of bread and two fish. Somehow, there were leftovers. Pretty incredible. And then afterwards, JC tells the disciples, who were probably tired too, to get back in their boat and head back. JC stays behind and hangs out with the crowd awhile longer before they all head home, too. Finally, JC takes a deep breath and gets that peace and quiet, he had been wanting. Remember, he was upset about his cousin. And it is evening by now, and it says that JC hikes up to this mountainside and prays until really late. JC was a night owl it seems. The, instead of going to sleep, at the fourth watch (3 A.M.), JC does something really crazy: he walks across the water, on the water!

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