Wednesday, January 21, 2015


"Now when Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee.  He left Nazareth and made his home in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun & Naphtali, so that what had been spoken through the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled..."
 (Matthew 4:12-14)

In Matthew's gospel, the first sighting we get of Jesus as an adult is when he travels south to the Judean wilderness to be baptized by John in the Jordan River (Mt. 3:13-17).  Immediately afterwards, he is "led by the Spirit" into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil (Mt. 4:1-11).  The very next verse says Jesus, upon hearing about John's arrest, "withdrew to Galilee" (4:12).  That must have been a disturbing piece of news.  John the Baptist, one of the leading spiritual voices at that time... who had just baptized Jesus (and been prophesying about Jesus' upcoming ministry), was being "silenced" by King Herod.  Maybe Jesus would be targeted next?!?

Galilee was far north of the Judean wilderness.  So at first, it may seem like Jesus is "getting out of Dodge" rather quickly.  It would be much safer in Galilee (plus, it was where he was from!).  But Jesus doesn't hunker down in his hometown of Nazareth and "lay low."  No.  He moves from the safe confines of Nazareth to the much larger seaport city of Capernaum.  It's there that he begins his ministry by calling his first disciples.

What struck me as interesting today was the reason WHY he started his ministry.  Sure, it was probably God's timing... but it also seemed to be necessitated by the unfortunate arrest of John.  This tells me that sometimes "negative events" can be the catalyst for new opportunities & ministries.  It's kind of like what's happening at my church in Aiea right now.  The leadership has been facing a potentially debilitating budget deficit.  But through much prayer, hard work, and being open to the leading of the Spirit, we're now on track for a balanced budget in 2015, AND a new (renewed!??) vision for ministry this year!  I'm so excited about where God is leading.  And had we NOT had this potential financial crisis, we may not have moved out of our regular routine.

You gotta love those catalyst incidents.

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