When Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, he withdrew to Galilee. Matthew 4:12
“Put your hand in the hand of the man from Galilee.” That’s a line from a song that was popular in the 1970s, when I was a kid; a one-hit wonder by the band Ocean. Go listen to it today. It’s an ear-worm, a perfect example of long-haired hippie greatness from the Me Decade.
After that, consider Galilee. Galilee is in northern Israel, northeast of Jerusalem. Per Wikipedia, it was the Canaanite area settled by Dan and Naphtali, and its history goes back over 5000 years. According to https://www.biblestudytools.com/bible-study/topical-studies/what-is-the-history-of-galilee-and-why-was-it-important-to-jesus.html, Galilee is a fertile but mountainous area that stretches from the shores of the Mediterranean to the Sea of Galilee on the east. For most of the centuries just prior to Jesus, Galilee was abandoned by the Jews, and was considered the most pagan part of Israel. Jesus lived most of His life in Galilee, in Nazareth, one of its primary settlements, near its southern perimeter. He called most of His disciples from Galilee, and all of them were either descended from Galileans or they resided there. Most of Jesus’ miracles were performed in Galilee; most of His parables were told there.
When you read the Gospels, consider Galilee because it was this place and its people, history, and lifestyle that shaped much of Jesus’ ministry. Once He returned from his early youth in Egypt, Jesus never traveled far from Galilee, even when He went to Jerusalem to worship or to be crucified. In fact, re-read today’s verse like this: “when Jesus heard that (His cousin) John (the Baptist) had been put in prison, he withdrew to (His home region of) Galilee.
Jesus didn’t simply withdraw to some strange place. He went home. He went home to a place with which He, Jesus the man, was familiar. It was here He had grown up, and it was here, in His home area, where He began to teach as the Son of God. Galilee was also where John the Baptist had grown up. John had spent much of his adult life near the Jordan, just south of Galilee. Near the end of his time, John returned home, to Galilee, and confronted the Roman tetrarch there, Herod Anitipas, about Herod’s irregular marriage (to his niece, while he was still married to someone else).
All this took place where Jesus called “home.” Where most of His memories were made. When you consider Jesus as a person just like us, consider that this was where He grew up, the world in which He grew to adulthood. Consider this and then ask yourself if it’s any wonder that the Messiah would come from such a humble place, ready to reach out to a world that still is skeptical about Him. Then put your hand in the hand of the man from Galilee.
For more reading: Mark 1:14, Matthew 4:13
Lord, thank You for the words about Your home in Galilee.