October 1, 2022

Galilean Ministry

After John (the Baptist) was arrested, Jesus went to Galilee, preaching the good news of God: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe in the good news!” – Mark 1:14-15 (HCSB)

The first 30 years of Jesus’ life were spent in preparation for a ministry of redemption. The year following his baptism was a period of introduction during which he put the people and religious leaders on notice; “I am the Messiah you’ve been waiting for.”

Jesus’ popularity among the people was growing, but so was the concern of the religious leaders whose power was greatest in Jerusalem, Judea. Jesus’ “introduction” in the temple (John 2:13-20) was a blatant and bold challenge to their power. The imprisonment of John the Baptist by Herod was the final signal that a continued ministry focused in Judea was not prudent. So, Jesus headed north to Galilee.

The GALILEAN MINISTRY lasted for approximately 18 months and was Jesus’ longest single period of teaching, healing, and preaching. Events from this period are recorded in all four Gospels. Consequently, we know more about this season of his ministry than any other.

The Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) all jump immediately into the Galilean Ministry following Jesus’ temptation (Matthew 4:11-12, Mark 1:13-14, and Luke 4:13-14). In addition, all three of these Gospels introduce the Galilean Ministry by pointing to Jesus’ preaching and teaching ministry and the core of his message rather than his healing ministry.

This emphasis on his message and preaching doesn’t diminish the significance of his healing ministry, but merely places it in its appropriate place as a complement to his message. John’s Gospel introduces the Galilean Ministry with a miracle healing, but specifically identifies the healing as “the second sign Jesus performed after He came from Judea to Galilee.” (John 4:54)

While Jesus’ healings were an important demonstration of his compassion and desire to bless people with wholeness, they always served a larger purpose of demonstrating his power and, ultimately, authenticating his identity as the Messiah. This balance must be vigorously maintained in any study of the person and ministry of Jesus.

All of Jesus’ miracles point to him. Above all else they teach us that he is the Messiah. As the Messiah he is defined by and driven by his Messianic mission of redemption. His miracles and his message point to his Messianic mission. We must never consider his miracles or message apart from his mission.

The first words Luke records by Jesus following his temptation underscore what his entire ministry was about. . .

The Spirit of the Lord is on Me, because He has anointed Me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim freedom to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. – Luke 4:18-19

So it is that Jesus begins his Galilean Ministry with an announcement that he is assuming the Messianic mantel. He will preach. He will heal. He will bring “freedom” because he has been “anointed” to usher in the kingdom of God. Everything else must be viewed in light of this mission.

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For a listing of all of the events recorded for this period, see Galilean Ministry Events.


For notes on. . .

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