A significant part of Jesus’ ministry was spent in an area known as Galilee. This was a region filled mostly with non-Jews, which meant much of traditional Judaism was diluted. This posed a problem because Jews looked at Jewish culture as “what God demanded,” anything less was seen as inferior.
In many ways this made Galilee one of the “worst” parts of Israel.
My study Bible suggests it’s this brokenness that made Jesus spend so much time here. Which, to be honest, is something I hadn’t considered. But it makes sense. Jesus even said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick” (Matthew 9: 12).
It seems to me that the closer we get to disaster the more likely we are to take notice of our lives. And it’s usually here that we begin to realize there’s something wrong. I’m sure it wasn’t any different 2,000 years ago.
As Galilee struggled economically, and was looked down upon by the rest of Israel, is it any wonder why they responded so strongly to Jesus? The people of Galilee saw the problems in their world, and recognized that Jesus was presenting another option. He was giving them a new way to live. He was offering hope.
Sometimes in our prosperity we view God as a convenience (or inconvenience, I suppose, depending on your point of view). We think of him as something that we can add onto our lives. But that’s not how we were designed to live. God is supposed to be an integral part of our lives.
Greg Koukl, of Stand to Reason fame, describes Jesus role in our life as a cure not a band-aid. Jesus doesn’t “cover up” sin, he takes it from us. This makes all the difference. We can’t just choose to apply God to our lives when it’s convenient or when we’re feeling sick.
That’s what the people of Galilee recognized. They saw their need for God and responded. I think it’s entirely possible that if Jesus had started in the most prosperous parts of Israel, with the healthiest people, they never would have recognized their own need for God. They would have fooled themselves into believing they needed a band-aid instead of a cure.
Sometimes the best thing for us can be a difficult life. Sometimes it pays to be Galilee.