The people pressed upon him - There was a glorious prospect of a plentiful harvest, but how few of these blades came to full corn in the ear! To hear with diligence and affection is well; but a preacher of the Gospel may expect that, out of crowds of hearers, only a few, comparatively, will fully receive the truth, and hold out to the end.
To hear the word of God - Του λογον του Θεου, The doctrine of God, or, the heavenly doctrine.
The lake of Gennesaret - Called also the sea of Galilee, Matthew 4:18, and Mark 1:16; and the sea of Tiberias, John 6:1. It was, according to Josephus, forty furlongs in breadth, and one hundred and forty in length. No synagogue could have contained the multitudes who attended our Lord's ministry; and therefore he was obliged to preach in the open air. But this also some of the most eminent rabbins were in the habit of doing; though among some of their brethren it was not deemed reputable.
The people pressed upon his - Multitudes came to hear. There were times in the life of our Saviour when thousands were anxious to hear him, and when many, as we have no reason to doubt, became his true followers. Indeed, it is not possible to tell what “might” have been his success, had not the Pharisees and scribes, and those who were in office, opposed him, and taken measures to draw the people away from his ministry; “for the common people heard him gladly,” Mark 12:37.
The Lake of Gennesaret - Called also the Sea of Galilee and the Sea of Tiberias. “Gennesaret was the more ancient name of the lake, taken from a small territory or plain of that name on its western borders. See Numbers 34:11; Joshua 19:35, where, after the Hebrew orthography, it is called Chinnereth” (Owen). The plain lying between Capernaum and Tiberias is said by Dr. Thomson (“The Land and the Book,” vol. i. p. 536) to be a little longer than thirty, and not quite twenty furlongs in breadth. It is described by Josephus as being, in his time, universally fertile. “Its nature is wonderful as well as its beauty. Its soil is so fruitful that all sorts of trees can grow upon it, and the inhabitants accordingly plant all sorts of trees there; for the temperature of the air is so well mixed that it agrees very well with those several sorts; particularly walnuts, which require the coldest air, flourish there in vast plenty. One may call this the ambition of nature, where it forces those plants which are naturally enemies to one another to agree together. It is a happy conjunction of the seasons, as if every one laid claim to this country; for it not only nourishes different sorts of autumnal fruits beyond people‘s expectations, but preserves them a great while. It supplies people with the principal fruits; with grapes and figs continually during ten months of the year, and the rest of the fruits, as they become ripe, through the whole year; for, besides the good temperature of the air, it is also watered from a most fertile fountain.”
Dr. Thomson describes it now as “preeminently fruitful in thorns.” This was the region of the early toils of our Redeemer. Here he performed some of his first and most amazing miracles; here he selected his disciples; and here, on the shores of this little and retired lake, among people of poverty and inured to the privations of fishermen, he laid the foundation of a religion which is yet to spread through all the world, and which has already blessed millions of guilty and miserable people, and translated them to heaven.
Day was breaking over the Sea of Galilee. The disciples, weary with a night of fruitless toil, were still in their fishing boats on the lake. Jesus had come to spend a quiet hour by the waterside. In the early morning He hoped for a little season of rest from the multitude that followed Him day after day. But soon the people began to gather about Him. Their numbers rapidly increased, so that He was pressed upon all sides. Meanwhile the disciples had come to land. In order to escape the pressure of the multitude, Jesus stepped into Peter's boat, and bade him pull out a little from the shore. Here Jesus could be better seen and heard by all, and from the boat He taught the multitude on the beach. DA 244.1Read in context »
The evening was pleasant, and Peter, who still had much of his old love for boats and fishing, proposed that they should go out upon the sea and cast their nets. In this plan all were ready to join; they were in need of food and clothing, which the proceeds of a successful night's fishing would supply. So they went out in their boat, but they caught nothing. All night they toiled, without success. Through the weary hours they talked of their absent Lord, and recalled the wonderful events they had witnessed in His ministry beside the sea. They questioned as to their own future, and grew sad at the prospect before them. DA 810.1
All the while a lone watcher upon the shore followed them with His eye, while He Himself was unseen. At length the morning dawned. The boat was but a little way from the shore, and the disciples saw a stranger standing upon the beach, who accosted them with the question, “Children, have ye any meat?” When they answered, “No,” “He said unto them, Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find. They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes.” DA 810.2
John recognized the stranger, and exclaimed to Peter, “It is the Lord.” Peter was so elated and so glad that in his eagerness he cast himself into the water and was soon standing by the side of his Master. The other disciples came in their boat, dragging the net with fishes. “As soon then as they were come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid thereon, and bread.” DA 810.3Read in context »