|Matthew 4:12||Read Online||Mark 1:14||Read Online||Luke 3:19-20||Read Online||Luke 4:14a||Read Online||John 4:1-4||Read Online|
After John was arrested, Jesus went to Galilee, preaching the good news of God.
“It’s the job that’s never started as takes the longest to finish.” Samwise Gamgee, probably my favorite character from my favorite novel Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring by JRR Tolkien, made this simple and very true statement, and it’s a painfully obvious one.
During summer vacation, when I was a young teen, I spent most of my time at home while my parents were at work. There were, of course, a list of chores I had to get done.
I’d sometimes find a note conspicuously taped to the TV when I woke up with specific instructions for that day—clothes that needed folding, floors that needed vacuuming, or the four acres of our lot that needed mowing. But did I get right on it? If you’re the parent of a typical preteen or teen, you can answer that quite easily.
In my mind, I had the whole day to complete the chores because my parents wouldn’t be home until 5:30 p.m. or so. Depending on the chore, I would start later in the day, allowing enough time for me to finish it before they got home.
But woe unto me if mom or dad got home earlier to find the task undone. And it wasn’t much better if, by my miscalculation or their early arrival, they found me in the middle of the chore. “You had the whole day to do what I asked,” they would say. “Why did you wait to the last minute?”
Looking back, I can see it wasn’t just about getting something done, but rather about being obedient and not selfish. What I did was put my wishes and desires above those of my parents.
Jesus, however, gives us the perfect example of obedience to the Father. He never had an issue with putting His own will above that of His Father. Today’s passage gives us the starting point of Jesus’ ministry.
He’d been baptized by John the Baptist to “fulfill all righteousness” (Matthew 3:15). And he’d just finished a 40-day period of fasting and trial in the wilderness, which was a common practice in the rabbinic tradition of the day to prepare for public ministry (see Matthew 4:1-11; Luke 4:1-13; Mark 1:12-13).
It was time to begin, in earnest, the task God had set for His son. Ground zero for Jesus was ministry is Galilee, an agricultural region west of the Sea of Galilee and 60-70 miles north of Jerusalem that was known for its fish production from the nearby sea. It was here—not in the religious, social, political, and cultural hub of Jerusalem—where Jesus did most of His ministry, where He proclaimed the Good News of God.
Around 18 years before, Jesus proclaimed to Mary and Joseph that He “must be about His Father’s business” (Luke 2:49). Scripture doesn’t address these 18 years of Jesus’ life.
Many scholars believe that He, being the eldest, took on the family business and might have even been the sole provider if Joseph had died (as some believe). So, in obedience to God’s command to honor one’s parents, Jesus didn’t start His ministry earlier. But the timing of when He began it was perfectly in step with the will of God.
There are two points here:
- The first is Jesus’ obedience to God the Father in all aspects of His ministry and life on earth. Jesus did nothing except what His Father willed (John 5:19, 30, 36). He was perfectly attentive to the Father’s voice, and followed it without deviation or hesitation.
- The second is that God willed the ministry to be centered in the unlikely place of Galilee, where worldly wisdom said nothing good or important could come from it (John 1:46).
We must also attentively listen to what God calls us to and act on that call accordingly—even if where (and maybe even what) He’s calling us to makes no worldly sense. We must be faithful to make a start.
- Why do you think God chose Galilee as the place for Jesus to start His ministry?
- Take some time to pray and attentively listen to the voice of God. Is there something God is asking you to do right now? Perhaps there’s a ministry your heavenly Father wants you to be involved in or start.
- What hinders or holds you back from doing what God wants? Maybe God is asking you to stop something (which isn’t necessarily bad), so you can move on to the next thing He has planned for you.
- Sometimes the places God needs us to do His work aren’t the places that worldly wisdom would choose. Could the unlikely office environment you’re in or a mission field God’s calling you to be your Galilee? This could be right out your front door.