Leaving Nazareth, he went and lived in Capernaum, which was by the lake in the area of Zebulun and Naphtali — to fulfill what was said through the prophet Isaiah: “Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali, the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles — 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 4:13-16
Isn’t it ironic that Jesus’ ‘hometown’ was the ‘land of the Gentiles?’ Jesus, born a Jew, was raised in an area that most Jews of His day wouldn’t enter. The most Jewish of men and the only Jew, or person, to ever keep God’s law perfectly, was raised in “Pagan land.” Jewish Galilee had been overrun and conquered long before the Southern Kingdom, the Kingdom of Judah, was. In fact, the northern area of Israel was where the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel lived. Centuries before Jesus’ time, the Jewish diaspora had begun there, with the lands of those ten tribes being taken over by foreign invaders, who scattered the Jewish faithful.
By the time of Jesus, many devout Jews wouldn’t go to Galilee, and the area was considered pagan. Yet it was this part of the ancient kingdom about which Isaiah prophesied, foretelling how Jesus would arrive there and the ministry of the Messiah would begin there.
And still people refused to believe. And still they do today. Think about it. God provides everything, and we refuse to accept Him. Sure, we accept the air, water, food, shelter, love, and even the heartbeat within us, but refuse to consider it is God who gives all those things. He doesn’t have to, but He does. Imagine receiving an organ transplant and not being thankful to God for the gift of another chance. Imagine surviving a war, or a dreadful accident, or a terrible disease, and simply thinking it’s random chance. Imagine falling in love and not considering that the feeling is more than mutual attraction. No need to imagine these things: they happen all the time with most people on this planet.
Now, contemplate something else. Envision the moment when someone realizes that, just maybe, God is real. That the words of the Bible are true That science and nature and the world are wonderful gifts God gives us. That anything is possible in Jesus Think of that moment and you’ll be one about whom Isaiah prophesied. You’ll be like a gentile in Galilee, on whom has shined a great light. That isn’t imagination or irony, either. That, too, happens every day, usually in unlikely places. It’s happening in the US, and Africa, and even in forbidden places like China, Iran, and North Korea. Everywhere. It’s even happening in Galilee: highly ironic…and long overdue.
For more reading: Isaiah 9:1-2, Mark 1:21, Mark 9:33, Luke 4:23 & 31, John 4:46-47, Matthew 4:17
Lord, You are our gift. You are Savior, Messiah, Lord, teacher, and friend.