Warning: Don’t Drink the Water in the Sea of Galilee. You Might Start Allegorizing

There must be something in the water of the Sea of Galilee. Otherwise, how can you explain why so many people allegorize stories from the life of Jesus that take place on or around the Sea of Galilee? (What is allegorizing, you ask? Allegorical interpretation draws meanings out of a Bible passage that the biblical author did not intend.) The way I see it, you had better be careful about drinking water out of the Sea of Galilee…otherwise you might start allegorizing. Let me show you what I mean.

“Jesus can calm the storms of your life” (Matt 8:26). Allegorical meaning: storms = difficult trials.

This story isn’t about the storms of your life! It’s about Jesus’s authority (Matt 8:27). Don’t drink the water. You might start allegorizing.

“When you start to sink, call out to Jesus” (Matt 14:30-31). Allegorical meaning: sinking = giving into your fears.

I’m afraid that this passage is about the authority of Jesus as well (Matt 14:33). Don’t drink the water. You might start allegorizing.

“Just drown those demons in the sea” (Matt 8:28-34). Allegorical meaning: demons = your fears; drown in the sea = totally getting rid of them.

On the contrary, the point of this passage is that Jesus’s authority extends even over the realm of demons (Matt 8:29). Don’t drink the water. You might start allegorizing.

“You gotta’ cast a net if you wanna’ catch a fish” (Luke 5:4-7). Allegorical meaning: casting a net = sharing the gospel; catching a fish = converting a person.

It turns out that this passage, like the others, focuses on the authority of Jesus (Luke 5:8-9). Don’t drink the water. You might start allegorizing.

Now, just because these particular passages focus on the person and authority of Jesus doesn’t mean that every passage will render the same interpretation. It just so happens that these four examples—all somehow related to the Sea of Galilee—focus on Jesus’s authority. You know, the intended meanings of the authors of Scripture sometimes aren’t as deep (excuse the allegorical pun) as we try to make them.

The only explanation I can conceive of for why we move toward allegorical interpretations of passages that include the Sea of Galilee is that we’ve been drinking the water.

Don’t drink the water. You might start allegorizing.

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