Today in Matthew: “When Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to the Galilee. He left Nazareth and made his home in the lake region in Capernaum.”
It was just a few days ago we talked about this in Wednesday Noon Bible study, and the importance of knowing the land. Understanding that “Fifth Gospel” – the story the land itself tells, is integral to the story. If you are really serious about knowing this, joining me on one of my trips to Israel is easy. The next trip however is the Journeys of Paul. It’s a Mediterranean Cruise so you might be even more excited. www.mattmeinke.com/trips Nevertheless, save up for Israel, because everyone should experience the Holy Land at least once in their lives.
When you know the land of Israel, you can easily spot that this verse marks a sudden and significant shift in the gospel’s focus. John’s ministry was one isolated in the wilderness. He may have been associated with the Essences, who were interested in purity and separation from the corruption of the Temple guard. Nazareth on the other hand was in the Galilee. It was mainly farmers and shepherds, with some artisans interspersed. But by going to Capernaum though, Jesus sets a tone that says something even more radical: Those who shall see the great light are those who have sat in great darkness, and now on them light has shined.
And who are these new “light-shined people”? Fishermen, tradesmen, and foreigners. Around this lake are the outcast of Hebrew society. It is pure Greco-Roman life colliding with Jews, and the furthest thing from the temple imaginable.
This passage all but says God’s rule is coming to those you least expect. Brace yourself for a bumpy ride, because this story gets crazy. Indeed it does. Not only does the Messiah die on a cross, but the inheritors of the kingdom are a rag-tag bunch of misfits, many of which came from this region. These people were the salt of the earth, literally connected to the land. They were not the learned people of the temple mount. They were not the great teachers of the law or morally upstanding citizens.
This passage, while cloaked in esoteric language and code, stands as a beautiful descriptor of the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It would be much like Oklahomans saying, “And now, even those Texans will see the great light!” In the most unimaginable place possible, grace and glory shall rise. (My apologizes to any Shorthorn fans following my blog. Ooops, Longhorn. Longhorn.)
May the glory of God shine into all the distant and dark regions of your heart this day. May you find the good news in the least likely of places.
If you are interested in knowing more about the Holy Land the easiest way is to join my Wednesday Noon Bible study: www.fpcduncan.com