Galilee has a lot of significance both geographically and spiritually in the lives of disciples of Jesus.
The place Jesus lived – Matt 3:1-2.
The place He chose his disciples- Luke 5; Matt 4:21
A place Jesus ministered- Matt 4: 23; Multiplied the bread and fed 5000- Matt 14: 21, The sea he walked on – Matt 14:26; Taught Peter to take first steps of faith- Matt 14:31; and where Jesus rebuked and calmed the sea- Mark 4: 35-41.
The place Jesus commissioned his disciples- Mathew 28:16-20.
The place where Peter was restored—Sea of Tiberias- same as Sea of Galilee – John 21
Mathew records three mentions of wanting the disciples to come to Galilee. Just before his capture and death, Jesus asks his disciples; at the tomb, the angel tells the women to go tell the disciples; one more time at the tomb, Jesus meets with the women and asks them to tell the brothers.
There are places like Galilee in our lives too. Place of first love, place where death ends and life begins. Place of new beginnings, over and over again.
I am going to state a preposterous claim. If Jesus was betrayed, the disciples felt betrayed and abandoned too. Three and half years of faith in a man who claimed to be God just ended as him being a criminal on a Roman cross — a curse! The promising future is no more. Disappointment and a sense of abandonment must have plagued them. There was no sense of survival now since they will be persecuted next. The Holy Spirit had not yet come, the church was not birthed. No purpose at this point in holding on to a gospel that does not seem to work that has cost them everything, and can’t seem to convince them a future.
The only way to survival now is denial, and somehow find our way back to before it all began. That’s where Peter found himself and he says ” I’m going fishing.”
End of one season rarely looks like the beginning of a new season. Instead, it looks like failures, abandonment and disappointments, betrayals, and a gospel that seemingly does not work.
Before you call me blasphemous, let me clarify Jesus was indeed betrayed and denied, but the disciples perceived betrayal and disappointment since they had no clue of an old season ending and the new life awaiting them.
One was a reality the other was perception.
Many times we like these disciples in our grief desire to hold on to the old and what had seemed to work in the past. We try to find purpose in the old and we say, let’s go fishing…nothing is happening here.
Jesus knew this about his disciples and calls them to where everything began, to the place of their first love. Nothing was there when they had started out with him 3.5 years ago. Just Jesus and the nets they discarded.
In our lives too, when seasons end and we stand on the eve of the new ones…Jesus understands the disappointment, the sense of perceived abandonment. He says –I am going ahead of you to Galilee where it all began. Come there.
When his disciples reached there, he restored Peter who needed restoration. He gave the great commission to the disciples.
The new assignment awaits us when we come back to the place of our first love, just Jesus, and the discarded nets. Yet, he shows us one step at a time. The commissioning first, next the instruction to wait for the Holy Spirit, and then the baptism of the Holy Spirit, finally the birth of the church…
Slowly it was becoming clear to the disciples, there was a purpose in the seeming disappointments, in the sense of abandoning, in the sense of failures. They were instruments of a new and living way.
Are the doors closing on an old season, are you feeling purposeless, disappointed, the gospel seemingly not working for you? Maybe it’s time to head to the place of first love, your fears to be washed away by the commissioning for the new season, await the anointing, and be the instrument of the birthings of His will.