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SEMINAR #5 SO YOU’RE GOING TO THE GALILEE REGION OF ISRAEL – WONDERFUL.
THIS IS JESUS-RICH TERRITORY

Jesus spent most of his life in the Galilee region of modern Israel.

In the time of the New Testament, Israel was divided into 3 political/geographical  sections beginning in the North with Galilee, the center area,  Samaria, and in the South, Judea.

In the Galilee region you find the Sea of Galilee, the head waters of the Jordan River, Mount Hermon, Capernaum, Gadera, Caesarea Philippi, Cana, Tiberius, Nazareth, Megiddo, Mount Tabor, Megiddo, among many other places that could also be mentioned.

I have a lot to share with you as you prepare for a visit to the Galilee with the “Holy Land Guru”.

Most of Jesus’ entire life since childhood was spent in the Galilee region.

Most of Jesus’ miracles of healing occurred in the Galilee.

Most of Jesus’ teaching ministry was offered in the Galilee region.

And Jesus recruited all of his disciples from the Galilee region.

So this is Jesus rich territory as you can see.

Historic context: There was great expectancy in the time of Jesus of the soon arrival of the long awaited Jewish Messiah.

Many had conflicting views as to what the Messiah’s role would be when he finally arrived on the scene. These differing views were as a result of the different  hints that the Old Testament prophets offered as to the role the  Messiah would occupy.

One thing is clear: The Jews really resented the Roman conquest of their land.

They longed for the days of the past when, under Kings David and Solomon, they were a mighty nation. (One could draw a comparison to the sentiments of some Russians who now remember with nostalgia when the Soviet Union was a world power).

Many Jews expected that when he came, the Messiah would recover the lost political and military glory of Israel.

He would set the record straight.

Still others probably understood the deeper spiritual dimension of the Messiah who is variously depicted in the Old Testament as a suffering servant, a dying object of scorn and a victorious conqueror.

And so, as Jesus did his miracles, he frequently counseled those he healed to shut up about their experience and tell nobody as he did not want popular sentiment to raise expectations that he would exercise the political option to become the conquering king that many of them craved after.

His political power would come at a later time in God’s plan and Jesus wanted to avoid that attention.

There are sixty-four occasions in the four Gospels where Jesus discouraged His popularity by instructing those who were excited about His being the Messiah to ‘tell no one’. The people wanted Him to be their political king, but He absolutely refused. He knew that he had come as the suffering Messiah not the ruling king and political redeemer. Jesus’ kingdom was not political but spiritual (John 18:36)”  from Defense of Israel by John Hagee.

And so here are some important things to know about Galilee in anticipation of your visit there.

NAZARETH.

Before he began his public ministry, Jesus went from his home town Nazareth in the North/Galilee region to Judea/Jericho in the Southern region of Judea where he was baptized by his cousin John the Baptist in the Jordan River (Matthew 3) [probably at the point just before it flows into the Dead Sea.

He was then tempted by Satan probably in the mountains that provide a spectacular backdrop for Jericho.

(We will see those mountains from Jordan early in the journey on the February 10, 2014 journey. Possibly, depending upon the local political situation then, we may also view it from Jericho on our way to Jerusalem.)                                                                                                                                                     

After this experience, Jesus stayed a while in Judea, perhaps in Jerusalem.

He then got the news that his cousin, John the Baptist, had been arrested and so Jesus decided to return to Nazareth in the North.

No disciples yet.

No miracles yet.

Not yet a public figure, but buzz was beginning to circulate since John’s pointing him out to the crowd at his baptism

 

CAPERNAUM:  Jesus deliberately relocated to Capernaum on the North side of the Sea of Galilee (This was predicted by the Old testament prophet according to Matthew 4:14 ff).

Also this was a practical choice.

The Gospel of Luke’s account of this period in Jesus’ life, tells us what happened in Nazareth to motivate Jesus to leave his home town (Luke 4:14-30).

Perhaps an example of familiarity breeding contempt?

After all he grew up there.

They knew his family.

His claims were insane to them.

Perhaps they thought:  “We know that kid” “He has lost his mind and he is blaspheming God and bringing shame down on our community. We remember, some of us older guys, how there were unsavory aspects to his birth 30 years ago that were hard for us to swallow then, but we did……, but this is just too much”.

And so they tried to kill him.

No wonder Jesus went somewhere else to begin his ministry.

Here in Capernaum he finally launched his public ministry.

Matthew 4:18 tells of Jesus recruiting his first disciples: Peter and Andrew and James and John in Capernaum.

We will go to Capernaum on the February 10, 2014  journey.

Greater Galilee region (Matthew 4:23 ff) Jesus went on a preaching tour of the Galilee region and the healing experiences began there. Note: each record of Jesus’ healing adds yet another dimension to our understanding of why and for what purpose Jesus healed people.

And then our thoughts perhaps become more personal: How desperately we want to be healed  when we are ill even though we know that in the end we are all going to finally die. But not yet Lord!

This raises all kinds of questions as to why God seems to pick and choose when He will intervene, without seeming reason.

Why does a little child, barely starting out in life, die, and an older adult lives on, surviving a deadly disease?

Why does the Bible instruct us when we are ill to call together the elders of the Church and have them pray over us as we seek healing, and then offer the assurance that this will result in divine intervention?

He healed every kind of disease and illness. News about him spread as far as Syria and people soon began bringing to him all who were sick. And whatever their sickness or disease or if they were demon possessed or epileptic or paralyzed, he healed then all. Large crowds followed him wherever he went- people from Galilee, the ten towns” (The Decapolis perhaps Amman  and Gerash where we will go on the February 10, 2014 journey) “Jerusalem, from all over Judea and from East of the River Jordan” (the Modern Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan)

Instances of mass healings are repeated in Matthew 8:16 ff.

It is interesting to note that a distinction is made between epilepsy and paralysis and demon possession. Jesus knew the difference and so did Matthew.

Mount of Beatitudes: Matthew 5-7 contains the famous Sermon on the Mount, Jesus’ most famous teaching utterances.

Some speculate that Matthew might have, like a secretary, collected written notes of these teachings that he heard Jesus give , perhaps frequently, and, when he actually sat down with his notes and actually recorded his Gospel, used the literary device of organizing them all together as one lengthy important sermon. That is an interesting thought.

Obviously what these men heard Jesus say did not automatically fall down from heaven at some point of time as a completed book as we find the 4 Gospels in the New Testament part of the Bible.

It is probable that Jesus returned to the themes contained in this sermon many times over the 3 years that Matthew and the others heard him speak to the crowds.

The underlying theme is how to live as Kingdom of God people. An aside: Those in the religious left camp try to make this sermon about personal behavior, apply to nations. Foolishness is the result. Nations do not turn the other cheek as Jesus advocated his followers to behave.

What was it that set Jesus’ teaching apart from all other teachers and teaching?  He spoke with authority.

From Matthew’s record, we learn that Jesus did the following in Galilee:

Near Capernaum: Matthew 8:1ff Jesus healed the leper “Lord if you are willing, you can heal me” What does that say to us?  Why did Jesus tell him to shut up after he healed him?

Capernaum: Matthew 8:5-13 Jesus healed the Centurion’s servant who was paralyzed and in great pain. The man’s compassion for his young slave, was most unusual as the Romans were not known to take care of their slaves, much less show compassion and actively seek their healing. They were property.

This Roman officer showed such unusual faith in who Jesus was that Jesus was impressed.

“I tell you the truth I haven’t seen faith like this in all Israel”.

This provided Jesus with an opportunity to teach about who he was and to demonstrate his power.

Capernaum: Matthew 8:14 Jesus healed Peter’s fever ridden mother in law.

On the February 10, 2014 journey we will see the foundations of the traditional house in which this probably occurred. It is quite near the synagogue and, apparently, early Christians so venerated the site that they built a church over it as frequently happened, and thus this  enables us today to identify the location of Peter’s house.

Sea of Galilee: Matthew 8:23 ff Matthew tells us how Jesus miraculously stilled the storm as they were crossing the Sea of Galilee to the Eastern shore at Gadara.

We will view this from the vantage point of a boat when we visit there in February 2014.

The disciples thought that they had seen it all, but this far surpassed their expectations.

Later John wrote the 4th biography of Jesus contained on our Bible, called the Gospel of John.  In its opening chapter he explained just who Jesus really was, the eternal “Word”, the creator, and one with God the Father.

This was information that the disciples did not yet have. Had they understood what John (who, interestingly  was then one of them) would later write about Jesus, then they would not have been so amazed that he could control the weather, after all he was God the Creator. Some time later along the way John acquired this deeper understanding who Jesus really was and incorporated it in his Gospel.

Gadara: Matthew 8:28-34 Jesus healed 2 demoniacs and sends the demons into a flock of wild pigs that then rushed down into the Sea and drowned themselves.

What is particularly intriguing about this account  is the attitude of the towns people.

One would think that they would have been glad to see these 2 tortured people released from this terrible possession, but this was not the case.

They saw what Jesus did and for some reason it repelled them.

Bad people are often repelled by virtue or attracted to perversity.

Watch the Jerry Springer show to see this abundantly illustrated.

Capernaum: Matthew 9:1-7 Jesus re-crossed the Sea from the East to North West back to Capernaum where he healed the paralyzed man who was let down through a hole in the roof by his friends who brought him to Jesus.

Jesus provocatively said to him: “be encouraged my child, your sins are forgiven”. By doing this, Jesus used this occasion to teach them more about who he really was.  “So I will prove to you that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins” he stated.

Capernaum: Matthew 9:9-13 Jesus called the local IRS collector to become his disciple. Matthew aka Levi, must have had a bad rep.  Roman tax collectors lived off the scam and were considered to be scum. They cheated the locals who had no recourse when over charged for their taxes.  Who could you complain to?

You had to be a despicable person to take up this trade.

Jesus saw something in Matthew that nobody else saw.

This once despised IRS agent became the author of the Gospel of Matthew and one of Jesus’ inner circle. This illustrates the grace of God that enables even us to perhaps get in.

Capernaum: Matthew 9:14-17 Jesus taught about fasting

Capernaum: Matthew 9:18-26 Jesus raised the young daughter of the president of the synagogue from the dead. We will visit the ruins of a very old synagogue in Capernaum that is actually built over the foundation of the synagogue that her father presided over. A prominent religious leader was in need.

A child was hurting. Jesus was partial to children and they were attracted to him as well.  Kids know instinctively when you likethem.

Capernaum: Matthew 9:19-22 Another event tucked on here by Matthew like an aside. For some reason this event stuck in his memory when he sat down to write this record in his Gospel.

A hand came out of a crowd unnoticed by anyone but by Jesus, and touched his robe.  She was a hemophiliac, probably from a lack of platelets in her blood.  Perhaps a blood cancer like the multiple myeloma that my wife Judy survived by the grace of God.

Capernaum: Matthew 9:27-31 Two blind men shouted to get Jesus’ attention. What if they had not shouted out? Jesus told them to keep quiet about what had happened to them. Fat chance of that happening. Seems to indicate the role of persistence in divine healing??

Capernaum: Matthew 9:32-34 Jesus casts out a demon from a young man who was rendered mute by the demon. The crowd was more impressed with this miracle than any other. Why?

Galilee area: Matthew 10:1-40 Jesus commissions his 12 disciples to preach and to do the same miracles that he had been doing and sent them out on a preaching, healing tour of the Galilee area, but restricted their ministry only the Jews at this point in time.

Galilee area: Matthew 12: 1-14 Jesus confronts the religious leaders while walking through a grain field, over the issue of Sabbath observance and priorities when religious observance is in conflict with mercy and doing good. The issue was that he healed a man with a congenital deformity of the hand and did so on the Sabbath and this incensed the religious authorities who now vowed to kill him which they are able to finally  do within a little more than a year.  Jesus refers back to an Old Testament prophesy, written more than 700 years earlier, that he says is now being fulfilled in him and quotes the Old testament prophet Isaiah  (42:1-4.)  if you were there what would you have thought?.

He moved on undaunted by their scheming. He continued the healing ministry as the sick came to him in droves.

Galilee area: Matthew 12: 22-37 Jesus heals a possessed man who was blind and mute. The man could not express himself and was brought by friends that cared for him and expected something remarkable to happen to him.

How much did the man participate in his healing and how much was determined by the friends who brought him to Jesus? Interesting questions to ponder. Does this illustrate a principle that the faith of one can result in the transformation of another?

Did Jesus believe in demons? Is this just superstition and something relegated to the dark ages and now explained by psychiatry? Note Jesus’ explanation: Matthew 12:43ff The evil spirit/demon can enter a human person, can be expelled, can return and wreak havoc and the end can be worse than the start with a multiplier effect.

Note Mark 1:34 The demons knew Jesus as he had “cast out many demons”. Because the demons knew who he was, he did not permit them to speak. He maintained control over their behavior.

The demons reacted violently when they saw Jesus and acknowledged who he was “The son of God” (Mark 3:11) See also Mark 5:1-20 the expanded account of the demoniac from Gadara and the 2000 dead pigs. No wonder the owner of the pigs was upset, if they were domestic and not wild, (we don’t know either way, but if they were domestic then he clearly had cause to be upset): They represented a severe economic loss and no insurance policy to cover the loss.

Jesus on the East side of the Sea of Galilee: Matthew 14:13ff Jesus feeds 5000 hungry people that followed him around the North side of the lake from Capernaum to the East side of the lake and no McDonalds in sight. The crowd apparently got there before him and were awaiting him there. Limited supplies: 2 sardines and 5 loaves of bread.

Sea Shore of Galilee: Matthew 13: 1 ff  Jesus left Capernaum and walked down to the Sea of Galilee where we will also walk in February 2014 and he taught the crowd from a boat about the nature of the kingdom of God”. (By the way not too long ago, when the water of the Sea of Galilee was exceptionally low, they found, buried in the mud, the remains of a boat from the time of Jesus that is now housed in a special museum we will see in February 2014. It is probably like the boat Jesus used as a floating pulpit in this account). He used parables that they understood about sowing seeds and grain falling on different kinds of soil and producing accordingly and about the seed that fell among the weeds and had to await harvest before the damage that was done could be undone. As you will see when you go to Capernaum the ground there is very hard and rocky and has a great deal of volcanic basalt rock. The soil of Capernaum is not naturally very good, except now the Israelis are doing their magic there and making wonderful crops grow in this soil as they have dome throughout Israel.

Then follows the parable of the pearl of great price and the parable of the fishing net that caught a variety of good and bad fish, as an illustration of the last judgment of God.

On the water off the eastern shore of Galilee: Matthew 14; 22-35 Jesus sent the crowd away and went up into the hillside to pray and sent his disciples off by boat to re cross the Sea of Galilee and leave him behind. They got into trouble with a storm.

In the middle of the night. Jesus appeared, walking on the water. Jesus allowed Peter to join him on the walk.

Jesus stilled the storm and the disciples were amazed that he could control the weather.  “You really are the Son of God”.                                                                                                                                   

When they arrived back in Capernaum the crowds of sick were waiting and discovered that just touching Jesus’ cloak resulted in healing “and all  that touched him were healed”.

Jesus takes a trip to Lebanon: Matthew 15: 21-28 there he healed a non Jewish woman’s demon possessed daughter.

Capernaum area: Matthew 15: 32ff Jesus heals many and feeds 4000 with 7 loaves and a few sardines.

Capernaum area: Matthew 16: 1ff  Jesus Is interrogated by the Jewish religious authorities. They wanted him to perform a trick for them and he refused. Note he chose not to give them this satisfaction because he knew it would make no difference as they were already committed to his murder and he knew it.

On the east side of the Sea of Galilee: Matthew 16: 5ff The disciples realized that they had not packed a lunch. These were the same people who had seen Jesus feed 5000 with next to nothing. And he scolded them for this. Question: Was he scolding them for forgetting to bring food or for forgetting that this was not necessary as he could provide whatever was needed?

Jesus takes a trip up North: Matthew 16:13-28 He went up to the headwaters of the Jordan river, into the foothills of Mount Hermon to the region of Caesarea Philippi, a place where the Romans had built pagan shrines to the god Pan.

There he challenged his disciples as to who they really thought he was.  Peter impressed Jesus with his answer “You are the Messiah the Son of the living God”. And Jesus empowers Peter and the others but warns them to not discuss what they had been talking about. Jesus also began to prepare them for his soon approaching death in Jerusalem.

Jesus on Mount Tabor: Matthew 17:1ff (Note there is some disagreement as to whether the events that follow occurred on Mount Hermon or on Mount Tabor. Most opt for Tabor)  Across the valley from Megiddo, those on the upcoming February 2014 journey will see Mount Tabor in the distance to the East. Jesus took some of his  disciples up to the top of Tabor where he was transformed (this was called the transfiguration  of Jesus) before their eyes with the mysterious appearance of Old Testament leaders who had been dead for many years: Moses for about 1400 years and Elijah for about 800 years. Jesus warned his disciples to not discuss what they had witnessed until after his death.

At the base of Mount Tabor. Matthew 17:14ff Jesus found a large crowd awaiting him when he came down from the top of Tabor and in that crowd was a father with a demon possessed child that his disciples were not able to deliver.

Capernaum: Matthew 17:24 Jesus deals with the issue of paying taxes. A fish was provided and the money for the taxes mysteriously removed from its mouth. It is interesting that this story is recorded by Matthew the former IRS agent, and it was probably his tax collecting replacement that collected this tax from them. This settled forever the question as to whether Jesus’ followers should pay taxes. Also it gave birth to the tradition that we will enjoy when we are at the Sea of Galilee and can purchase the traditional fish dinner there called “St Peter fish”.

Capernaum: Matthew 18:1-35 Jesus conducted lengthy teaching sessions and taught them about childlike faith, that it is to be cherished, and warned that anyone who harms a child that they would be better off dead, and warns about the insidious nature of sin, and how to restore a fallen brother, and the importance of mercy.

Jesus headed South to Judea: Matthew 19: 1ff

Capernaum: Matthew lists the names of the 12 disciples including himself and includes the put down designation of himself as “the tax collector”. Jesus gave them very specific instructions:

(Note When you read elsewhere on this site what actually happened to these men and how they ended up mostly in brutal cruel deaths you will understand why this training and conditioning by Jesus was so important for them later, to have had this experience.)

He gave them these specific instructions:

“Only go to the Jews; take no money with you so you will have to rely on the generosity of other; don’t take any extra clothing or even a walking stick; be wise about your behavior because people will try to hurt you ;  be wise as serpents and harmless as doves;; Expect legal complications and use them to provide a platform to talk about Jesus; don’t rely on prepared sermons as God will tell you what to say; expect persecution but when it comes get out of town and move on to the next town ie don’t seek persecution; don’t be afraid of those that threaten you or want to kill you; understand that Jesus will cause a great unrest and will not bring peace to you or your families.”

And all of that transpired in the Jesus rich territory called the Galilee.                                                

Enjoy it. See seminar #9  for what happened in the South in Judah of importance

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