JOURNEYING WITH JESUS(Pt. 4)

“Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. He taught in their synagogues, and everyone praised him”(Luke 4:14-15).

“As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. ‘Come, follow me,’ Jesus said, ‘I will make you fishers of men.’ At once they left their nets and followed him”(Mark 1:16-18)

“But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee”(Mark 14:28).

Let us follow our Lord Jesus from his temptation in the Wilderness and His baptism in the Jordan River under John. We recall that it was right after John the Baptist’ arrest by Herod that Jesus begins his public ministry. Where did he choose to begin (And spend his most popular and productive) three and half years of ministry? In the religiously obscure place called Galilee, “Galilee of Gentiles” as Isaiah foretold, “the people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned”(Matt. 4:15-16).

God’s ways are not our ways. He did not send His Son with a blaze of glory and fanfare into the earth; he was not born into a Nobleman’s home or surroundings. God hid him away in Egypt to protect him from Herod, whose murderous intent was to seek and snuff out his life as a little child. He returned with Joseph and Mary to an obscure village called Nazareth. There he learned a Carpenter’s trade and lived with all the risks of the simple villagers, under the oppressive boot of Rome and Caesar. Now at last, His moment to go public, announcing the Kingdom of heaven was at hand….It would begin in Galilee.

Galilee teaches two things, primarily.  First, God is very humble. He rarely shows Himself to His creation in huge ways. He loves to make Himself known among those whose hearts are humble and can find Him with the simple eye of faith. The prophet Isaiah confirms this assessment. “For this is what the high and lofty One says–‘I live in a high and holy place, but also with him who is contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite”(Isaiah 57:15). Jesus public ministry flourished in the land of Galilee. The soil of the human hearts had been plowed and prepared to receive him who was the very Seed of God planted into the earth.

The Gospel writers all agree that Galilee was where the real action was at! Jesus greatest sermons and teachings were in Galilee. Jesus greatest miracles were recorded in Galilee. The first four disciples, soon to be apostles were from Galilee. Jesus greatest, loyal support base of women followers was from Galilee. After his death and resurrection, it was Galilee he chose to make his great appearance and commission.

There is a second lesson drawn from Galilee. If we are to experience heaven’s best,desiring to experience a true move of God’s Spirit we must humble ourselves. Like those from Galilee we must receive God on His terms, not ours. He comes looking for the humble and needy of heart to revive and empower with His Spirit.  Isaiah announces “This is what the high and lofty One says–he who lives forever, whose name is holy: ‘I live in a high and holy place, but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite'”(Isaiah 57:15 NIV).

From Galilee our Lord Jesus’ fame spread abroad. The folks of Galilee did not seek to steal nor shield his glory. They simply waited and welcomed his presence and his love. A love that was full of compassion for the poor and downtrodden, the sick and the dying. These were not those who were privileged to be raised in a highly religious atmosphere. But they had a genuine appetite and heart for the true things of God. Their cried out like David, “O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water. I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory. Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you”(Ps. 63:1-3 NIV).

What a contrast of our Lord’s journey into Jerusalem. Jerusalem was the placed Jesus was challenged by the religious establishment of his day. They were more concerned with appearing right than being right in the sight of God. Ultimately, because he showed up their sham and hypocrisy, they plotted and planned to arrest him and have him killed. But Jesus knowing their intent, did not shrink from his mission. He was not a victim of the religious system of his day. He came to give his life on the cross, bringing forgiveness and salvation to all who were lost.

Jerusalem was his journey’s end–And beginning! He was as John the Baptist foretold, “The Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world”(John 1:29). His arrest led to his passion. He was led like a lamb outside the City to be God’s sacrifice for the sins of the world.  And three days later, as Jesus foretold his disciples, he arose from the dead for you and for me. This is why we celebrate his victory over death today. “But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive”(1 Co 15:20-22). This is our blessed hope.

Jerusalem’s journey was our journey as well. His victory over death, hell and the grave was our victory as well. He understood that there can be no crown without a cross. Without a seed planted there can be no harvest. He said, “I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it will bring forth much fruit”(John 12:24)

Copyright© Walter Fletcher Jr., 2011. Permission is granted to reproduce this article free of charge, provided that it is not altered in its original form and content. Please direct all correspondence to walterfletcherjr@gmail.com

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