Why Galilee

“Then he went down to Capernaum, a town in Galilee, and on the Sabbath began to teach the people. They were amazed at his teaching, because his message had authority.” (Luke 4:31-32)

Questions persist as to why Jesus spent most of His time in Galilee rather than Jerusalem and even Athens, or Rome.

First, He visited Jerusalem only rarely because He knew of the hostility provided Him by the establishment religious leaders. He was accepted in Galilee and His message could be more openly shared there. The fact He taught in the synagogues of Galilee, especially His home town of Nazareth, attest to the fact of His deity, for no person born out of wedlock could even go into a synagogue. However, Jesus didn’t restrict his teaching to the synagogue like other rabbis. He took his ministry to the people. 

The government of Galilee was more tolerant also. Galilee at the time of Jesus, on the west side of the lake, was under the control of the Tetrarch, Herod Antipas, the son of Herod the Great.  

The local population was more open to Him because of there being no pious religious leaders there. Religious Jews shunned Tiberias because it was built on top of a cemetery. This made it “unclean” under Jewish law.

A few miles south-east of Tiberias, toward the outlet of the Sea of Galilee are the hot springs of Hammat Tiberias that today, as in that day, are visited by persons seeking healing. The Roman Aesclepius cult members practiced soaking in hot baths and fasting in order to try to get healed. 

Two things made the Galilee Grand Central Station of the day. The springs attracted many people from distant lands.

However, there is a more meaningful reason for Galilee being the crossroads between three continents. Two major caravan routes, the Via Mara and the King’s Highway both cross there. Having traveled through deserts, the caravans came there for the fresh water from the Sea of Galilee.

Galilee was populated not only by Jews, but also Gentiles: Greeks, Romans, Arabs,  Phoenicians, and others. In that sense they were rural, yet cosmopolitan. 

Near the end of Jesus’ ministry some Greeks came there seeking Him in hopes of attracting Him to come to Athens. Doubtless members of caravans that had passed there went home to Athens and told them of Jesus. His message spread to other regions from there. Had He centered His ministry there would not have been such a diverse audience.

All of these factors made Galilee the most logical place for Jesus to minister. In your life, as in the selection of the location of Galilee for Jesus ministry, God’s wisdom was at work. Ask Him to guide you through life.