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The Galilee Principle
By David A. DePra
Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know. Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way? Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (John 14:1-6)
The disciples could not understand Jesus’ words because there was no place in them for His words. They were expecting Jesus to be an earthly Messiah with an earthly kingdom. Thus, everything He said, meaning a spiritual kingdom, they interpreted to mean a physical kingdom. They had no frame of reference for anything else.
When Jesus began to speak of leaving them, and then coming back, they could not understand. Jesus was talking about entering into His Father’s house – the REAL kingdom – through death and resurrection. The disciples thought he was talking about entering the physical temple.
The disciples had left everything to follow Jesus. They wanted the kingdom of God – their understanding of it – to be established, with THEM as part of the core group. They believed that everything that Jesus was doing was headed in that direction. Despite the fact that Jesus repeatedly told them He was going to die and be raised, they never heard Him. They could not have imagined what was about to happen – and WHY.
Everything the disciples hoped for – and had believed at great personal cost – was about to come crashing down. They would lose their Messiah, their kingdom, their hopes, dreams, and worse, their faith in God would be tested to the breaking point. But even though it looked as if everything was at an end, they were about to discover that it was not. It was a beginning. And in this we find what we might refer to as, "The Galilee Principle."
Expectations of a Kingdom
Unless we see that the disciples, during the earthly ministry of Jesus, had virtually NO FRAME OF REFERENCE for His true purpose – His death and resurrection – and virtually NO FRAME OF REFERENCE for the true nature of His kingdom, we will never be able to grasp what is going on in the gospels. So often tradition paints the apostles as holy men who knew from the start that Jesus had come to die for the sin of the world, and who were waiting with baited breath for Him to do this. The fact is, they began following Jesus for a kingdom – one which THEY would benefit from. They had not the slightest idea of the real purpose of Jesus, nor any expectation whatsoever that He would die. None at all – despite the fact that Jesus had again and again told them He was to die. They never heard a word He said.
Their expectations were understandable. We can scarcely imagine what it would have been like to have followed Jesus around for those three years plus, seeing a perfectly sinless man doing all of those miracles. They had seen Jesus walk on water, and calm a storm. They had seen Him raise the dead, and heal thousands of people by His Word. He had fed thousands with a boy’s lunch. And Jesus had continually taught about the kingdom of God – and promised THEM that they were going to be in it with Him. Jesus had come and revealed to them that God was their faithful heavenly Father. This really was the Messiah! And they had been chosen by Him.
To top all of this off, Jesus had asked them, "Who do you say that I am?" They had answered, "You are the Christ – the Messiah – the Son of the Living God!" Jesus told them that they were right. All of this – verified by Jesus Himself – simply raised the expectations of the disciples. GOD HIMSELF was in this. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had sent Jesus. And in their lifetime, the kingdom of God would be restored.
To the disciples, this was not some religion to follow. They had literally left everything to follow Jesus. And for most of them, there was no way back. Furthermore, as time progressed, and the end drew near, Jesus because a hunted man. The Jews were out to get him, and the Romans would not be far behind. The disciples knew that they would be next on the list. But they weren’t all that worried about it, since this was the Messiah, God was in this thing, and so the kingdom was near. They would win out in the end.
So when Jesus began to talk about leaving them, we can understand why they had no frame of reference for what was about to happen. How could they? Peter probably thought Jesus was talking about some dangerous political maneuver. That is why he boldly proclaimed, "Lord, why cannot I follow thee now? I will lay down my life for thy sake!" (John 13:37) It is likely that Peter’s courage came from the notion that Jesus was invincible – after all, it was clear that God was with Him! He had raised the dead! There was nothing to be afraid of. When there isn’t any REAL danger, it is rather easy to be brave, isn’t it?
Imagine being one of these disciples. Jesus had chosen you. He had made you all of these promises, in the context of a kingdom He would bring. You had left everything to follow Him. This was God. And you wanted to be part of His will and purpose.
But then one night, Jesus is carried off. He is arrested. How could this be? Isn’t He God’s Messiah? This isn’t supposed to happen – it CANNOT happen!
When Jesus was arrested, and then put to death, the disciple’s kingdom came crashing down. But what crashed was more than just their hopes for a kingdom. It seems certain that on top of everything was the fact that the disciple’s FAITH was broken. It is one thing to leave material jobs and possessions to follow Jesus. It is another to be in physical danger because you were one of His disciples. But by the time Jesus was taken away, the disciples had confessed that Jesus WAS the Messiah of God! The SON of God! And Jesus had told them they were right – that His Father had revealed this to them. If all of that were true, HOW could Jesus be taken and crucified? How could His mission fail? – fail according to the disciples expectations?
The kingdom may have seemed to crash when Jesus died, but in reality, the kingdom actually was made certain when Jesus died. The disciples didn’t know this at the time, but everything for which they hoped was actually being sealed by the death of Jesus – and then His resurrection.
We find in the gospels that Jesus told His disciples, long before His death, that after His death they were to meet Him in Galilee. We read this in Matthew 28 and in Mark 16. After His death, He would go before them into Galilee, and THERE He would meet them.
In reading the gospels, we find that even after they knew His body was gone, and even after Jesus had appeared to them in the upper room, they still did not go to Galilee. But eventually they did go. And it was there that Jesus met them, and spent most of the forty days teaching them about Himself from the Old Testament.
Herein we begin to discover a great Truth – really a principle as to how God often works. I call it, "The Galilee Principle."
Have you ever built up a, "big kingdom," around a promise or revelation God has given you? Perhaps you absolutely KNOW that a certain thing is of God. You are so certain of it that you have left every other hope and dream for it – if not materially, then at least emotionally. But then it all comes crashing down. What could NOT happen – if this thing is of God – DOES happen.
Such a time can be devastating. Indeed, it is how we respond to God during that time that determines our spiritual purpose more than any other thing in life. It is one thing to follow Jesus when I believe that a, "big pay-off," is going to be the outcome. It is easy to follow Jesus for what I think I am going to get out of it. But when the whole thing comes crashing down, and nothing I believed any longer seems possible, THEN much about my faith, and about my relationship with God, will be exposed.
Herein we find, "The Galilee Principle." If everything I believe about Jesus’ purpose in my life dies, what will I do? Will I blame God, and go back to the life I lived before Jesus called me? Will I say, "Well, it is obvious that I bet on the wrong horse. I completely misinterpreted God. Worse, God let me misinterpret Him. This means I can never be sure again about anything. I’m done with this business. I’m going back to where I was before I let my hopes and dreams carry me away into that nonsense." Or, will, "I go to GALILEE?"
What does that mean? Well, Galilee is the place the disciples were to go to see the RISEN CHRIST. They were to go there after everything they hoped for came crashing down. Thus, in order to go to Galilee, you have to put aside the devastation that has come to your hopes, and to your faith in God, and nevertheless move on to the place of God’s will and purpose.
You see, it takes faith to go to Galilee, in the wake of a terrible trauma like that. In order to go to Galilee, you have to walk away from your hopes, your dreams, and even your expectations as to what God was doing. You have to leave all of that behind. You have to have enough faith to STILL BELIEVE GOD – and despite your shattered heart, journey down to Galilee, because you still want the will of God.
God always has a will. In fact, it has never changed. You and I may have had the wrong idea about what God’s will was for us, but God never had a wrong idea. All of this – this terrible disappointment – is, in fact, the only way He could get us to where we could come into His will. But His will is in Galilee. It is not up in Jerusalem. So you have to go to Galilee.
"The Galilee Principle," states that the full will of God is only realized if we put aside our will. Now note: I am not talking about SELF will, in the sense of rebellion against God. I am not talking about, "our will," in the sense of opposing God. NO. I am talking about OUR WILL in the sense of wanting GOD’S WILL – but our way! Can we see this?
The disciples wanted God’s kingdom. But they wanted it according to their way, and their understanding. The weren’t being rebellious or opposed to God’s will in any deliberate way. The kingdom according to their understanding was simply all they knew, or could know. But it was not going to happen the way they expected, or the way they wanted. All of that had to be brought down to a death. But despite it all, God did have a kingdom for them – a spiritual kingdom. He had a kingdom HIS way. Yet in order to receive it, they first had to surrender their kingdom to God. They had to walk away from it. And they had to go to Galilee. Only there would they be prepared for the kingdom God had for them.
God has a will for each of us. But until we are brought to a full surrender, we can’t have it. We have to relinquish our right to possess God’s will for ourselves. You will note that I did NOT say that we have to relinquish our right to possess OUR will – no, that is a given. Rather, we have to relinquish our right to possess the will that God has for us – we must refuse to take possession of that, and leave it in HIS hands.
One Bible example is God’s promise to Abraham of Isaac. God promised Abraham a son, and that promise came to pass. God brought it to pass even though Abraham had tried to bring God’s promise to pass through his own way. But you know, there is even yet MORE to the story. Abraham, having received God’s promise of a son, nevertheless had to let Isaac go. He had to put him on an altar and surrender him to God. In effect, even the promises that God wants to give us – DOES give us – have to remain in HIS hands, and not ours.
What God wants to do in all of this is free us of self-interest with regards to HIS will. He wants us to recognize that He alone is capable of doing His will in us and through us, and while we will have a part in this, our part is not to exercise our self-will for God in it. Our part is to be free of self-will and just do HIS will.
For three and one-half years, the disciples of Jesus had tried to do His will for Him, or tried to get Him to do HIS will – their way. They did this in ignorance. Now the whole thing came crashing down. But not to where God would not have His will. No, He would have His will. But first, the disciples had to go to Galilee.
The disciples of Christ had to walk away from everything they expected from God, and walk away from their expectations of Christ. They had to walk away from these, not merely as outward things and expectations, but they had to walk away from all of their understanding, misplaced faith, and dashed hopes. But when they got to Galilee, they found something better: The Risen Christ.
This is going to sound rather abstract and perhaps even unattainable – and that is because it is if we are left to ourselves. But you and I will never see the will of God until we see the Risen Christ. We will never understand until we see the Risen Christ. We can study ourselves blue in the face, and have all of the best intentions, but we just will not be set free until we see HIM.
I am talking here about an inner revelation that comes only by going to Galilee. And often that means that many of our dreams and hopes much be dashed. We must be detached from them and they must be relinquished. But if we will go to, "our Galilee" – not settling for anything less than God’s full will for us – this revelation will come. And when it does, there will be no debate as to whether it was worth it.
Do you want the full will of God – both in you and for you? No matter what? Well, God wants it more. But it may be that you first must relinquish God’s will for you YOUR way. It may be that you must first stop deciding how your life ought to be if God is to be proven faithful. It may be that you must first stop deciding how the kingdom of God must work in your life – if Jesus really IS your Savior. It may be that you must walk away from all of that and go to Galilee. What you will end up with may, or may not, be the things you wanted in life. But you will see the Risen Christ. And when you do, that will be the fulfillment which is beyond things you may have wanted.
The disciples of Jesus GOT a kingdom. But it was not the one they thought they wanted. They expected a kingdom without, and Jesus gave them one within. I’m sure that they did not complain, once the day of Pentecost came.
I wonder if any of the disciples refused, through unbelief, to go to Galilee? Because they didn’t get what THEY wanted from God? We don’t know. But those that did go to Galilee saw the resurrected Christ, and went on to receive God’s full purpose in and through them.
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