Longest Quote Of The Old Testament In The New Testament Why Did Jesus Spend So Much Time in Galilee? (Mark 1:14)

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Why Did Jesus Spend So Much Time in Galilee? (Mark 1:14)

The baptism of Jesus marked the beginning of his public ministry. After spending 30 years in Nazareth, he goes to the Jordan River to be baptized by John the Baptizer (Mark 1:9). Immediately after his baptism, Jesus spends 40 days in the wilderness, fasting and resisting the temptations of Satan.

When John the Baptizer is put in prison, Jesus heads back to Galilee and begins to preach the gospel (“the good news”) of the kingdom (Mark 1:14). His message is straightforward and is summarized as, “Repent and believe the gospel” (Mark 1:15).

I’m intrigued by the fact that Jesus went back to Galilee to start his preaching ministry. Why not stay in the southern part of Israel? Why not spend his time where most of the people were – in Jerusalem, the political and religious capital of Israel.

There are at least three reasons that Jesus returned to Galilee.

1. To fulfill prophecy.

Matthew, the converted tax collector, makes good use of the many Old Testament predictions about the Messiah. He points out that when Jesus came back to Galilee, he first went to Nazareth, his hometown. But apparently he doesn’t stay in Nazareth for long: “Leaving Nazareth, he went and lived in Capernaum, which was by the lake (the Sea of Galilee) in the area of Zebulun and Naphtali” (Matthew 4:13)”. And why does Jesus go to Capernaum? Answer: “to fulfill what was said through the prophet Isaiah” (Matthew 4:14). Then Matthew quotes Isaiah 9:1-2, which says that one day God will honor the region of Galilee with the presence of the Messiah, an area that was looked upon with disgust by Jews in the south because of the influx of Gentiles who lived there.

It will be in “Galilee of the Gentiles” that “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” (Matthew 4:16). Jesus declared that he was “the light of the world” (John 8:12). And some 700 years before his arrival, Isaiah predicted that Jesus the Messiah would shine his light in Galilee.

2. To find his disciples.

A second reason for establishing his ministry in Galilee is because Jesus had a plan to train a small group of disciples to carry on his work after his death. He knew that he was on a divine schedule – three years of public ministry followed by his death, resurrection and ascension. When you think about it, that’s really not much time, humanly speaking. And he knew that it would be critical to spend as much time as possible during those three short years with men that he personally trained to continue what he started.

And where would he find the best candidates for such a project? In Capernaum, for this is where four fishermen lived in worked. Peter and Andrew, James and John – two sets of brothers who spent their days fishing together on the Sea of Galilee – these common laborers were to become the inner circle of the men Christ chose to be his apostles.

Jesus had already spent time with at least three of these four fishermen near the Jordan River. These men were disciples of John the Baptizer and Jesus’ forerunner had introduced them to Jesus. The book of John the Apostle tells us about this encounter (see John 1:35-42).

So I think Jesus came to Capernaum to find these four fishermen and call them into full-time ministry, which he does in Mark 1:16-20.

3. To emphasize the universal goal of the gospel.

Yes, Jesus was the Messiah, the King of the Jews. But he was also King of kings and Lord of lords. He came not only to save his people Israel, but all peoples. He is calling men, women and children from every nation to follow him. The gospel is for everyone, Jew and Gentile alike. And spending time in “Galilee of the Gentiles” shows us the universal purpose of Jesus’ mission to seek and save the lost of every tongue.

Throughout the gospel accounts we see Jesus interacting with all types of people – rich and poor, educated and uneducated, the righteous and the unrighteous. He came to offer salvation to all by giving his life on the cross “as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). After the resurrection, his parting words to the disciples were to carry on this mission by preaching the good news “to all creation” (Mark 16:15) and by making disciples of “all nations” (Matthew 28:19). And so we are to continue doing what Jesus demonstrated so clearly in Galilee – like our Master, we are to share the gospel with all peoples, Jew and Gentile alike.

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