Hey I’m Josh Hawkins and this is episode 73 of Opening Up the Gospels. Since episode 61 we’ve been looking at the period of Jesus’ ministry I’ve called the “Middle Galilean ministry”, a short time period of perhaps only a couple of months that takes place in the Spring of 28AD. We saw both Jesus’ miracles and teaching increase in scope and magnitude. In just that short span we saw Him raise two people from the dead, we saw Him teach the Sermon on the Mount, and we saw the disciples be sent out with power to preach the message of repentance and the coming day of the LORD to the towns in Galilee. Now as I’ve mentioned before, these divisions of Jesus’ ministry are functional - you can break it up in many different ways, but this is just the way I’ve chosen to do it. For more of an overview on all the periods, you can go back and watch Episodes 40 and 53, but I’ll do a quick review here.
As we saw in the last episode, the Middle Galilean Ministry ends with the sending of the Twelve. And now the late Galilean period we will see begins with the feeding of the 5000, which as I’ve mentioned in past episodes is one of the most significant events in the Gospels that help us to form a general chronology because all four Gospels mention it. We still have two more periods left to cover - the Late Perean and Judean, and then Passion Week. As I said back in Episode 53, these three first periods - the early Judean, early Galilean, and Middle Galilean - they all fit in the first year of Jesus’ public ministry, between the first Passover of John 2 in 27AD and the 2nd Passover of John 6 in 28AD. The Middle Galilean period lasted several months and stretched through the Spring of 28. And now we’ll approach this middle Passover of Jesus’ ministry and go through about six months of events through about the Fall of 28AD. This is the Late Galilean ministry.
Let’s take a quick look at some of the themes we’ll see in this Late Galilean Period. If I was to label this section of Jesus’ ministry with one word, it would be transition. This six month period is just so dramatic for Jesus, for the disciples, and for everyone He comes in contact with. In so many ways, this period is where everything begins to change, and this period forms the pivot point of the Gospel story. Another thing we will see is how Jesus’ miracles explode on a whole different order than they have before. Of course we have seen some pretty dramatic things already from the beginning of His Galilean ministry and then even in the last period with the raising of two dead people and the calming of the storm, but the miracles in this stage really go past all of that. We’re going to see Jesus’ sovereignty over His creation highlighted in a very particular way. A third thing we’ll see is how the crowds grow even more and follow Jesus almost constantly throughout this period. We’ve looked at scenes where the crowds press about Jesus and are prodding and poking him for His attention, but in this Late Galilean period, they’re relentless. Fourth, and this is a big one, we see Jesus’ identity affirmed by the disciples three distinct times. This is so important, because the circumstances during this period bring up that question of His identity in the minds of the disciples like it was never brought up before. Jesus’ question “Who do you say that I am?” is such a defining moment during this period.
Let’s make this personal for a second. Almost always in our own lives, the way the Lord arranges our circumstances is unto the larger question of causing us to learn something about who Jesus is. In other words, when our normal circumstances are disrupted - whether that’s lots of blessing or difficult problems - it’s not really about the circumstances. To us, it maybe - but from God’s vantage point, the disruption is about His relationship with us. He wants to confront us and press something about Himself on to our hearts. So for example, if we’re in a season of financial lack, that probably isn’t accidental. He is pressing upon us the question of who He is as provider. Or if we’re experiencing relational rejection - he’s pressing the question on our heart “am I really your portion and your reward?” We respond and typically say “why don’t you let everybody like me?” and He’s saying “I like you, I want you to have Me as your portion.” The culmination of this will be at the end of the age when all sorts of disruption will be happening. The point of it all is to bring the earth into a confrontation with the identity of Jesus. And so here similarly in this Late Galilean period, this is what we find going on. In this period, there are dramatic moments of glory and dramatic moments of severe testing, and all of it was to press upon the hearts of the disciples and the multitudes the question of who He truly was to them.
Well, the fifth theme we’ll see in this period is that of Jesus’ suffering. Though there were times in the past where Jesus alluded to his death, two times during this period Jesus explicitly reveals what will happen to Him at the hands of the Jewish authorities. He was doing this to prepare the Twelve for what was ahead. These predictions along with the questions of His identity were all designed to incorporate suffering into their paradigm of His identity as the King of Israel, the Christ, and the Lord of glory. And the final theme of this period that we will look more at is the close of the Galilean ministry. Following the feeding of the 5,000, Jesus pronounces judgment on Galilee and actively avoids the crowds there. It would have been a scary time to be a Galilean.
Let’s take a look at how the Gospels narrate this portion of Jesus’ ministry. Unlike in some of the past periods we’ve looked at, in this period the Synoptic Gospels parallel each other pretty closely in terms of the chronological order of the events. Most of the time, Mark and Luke parallel one another but Matthew is all over the place. But in this period, Matthew, Mark, and Luke all parallel one another, which makes it pretty easy to get a clear picture of what’s going on. However, though Luke agrees chronologically with all the other authors, he doesn’t really include much information about this section. However Matthew gives nearly four chapters to the events that Luke summarizes in just 43 verses. In this period we’ll also see some details from Mark’s Gospel that are absent in Matthew and Luke. This shows us once again how complimentary the Gospels are to one another. And John, though He mostly is narrating events in Jerusalem and Judea, does narrate events in this section - not just the feeding of the 5,000 but the few days immediately following it. Remember, John has not been narrating anything since the unnamed feast back in John 5, which we looked at all the way back in Episode 55. Let’s look at a quick breakdown of where this period is in each of the Gospels.
In Matthew, we see this period narrated in Matthew 14:1 through 17:21
Mark is Mark 6:14 through 9:50
Luke is just Luke 9:7 through 9:50 - just 43 verses
and John is John 6:5 through 6:71
Well let’s look at our timeline and briefly take a look at the events of this period.
First, we begin with
- The Feeding of the 5000 - which is narrated in Matthew 14, Mark 6, Luke 9, and John 6
- then Miracles on the sea of Galilee, which is when Jesus walks on the water
- then Healings in Genessaret
- then Jesus’ conflict with the Pharisees and Scribes from Jerusalem
- then the famous “eat my flesh drink my blood” sermon at the synagogue in Capernaum, where a larger group of his disciples turn away from him
- then Jesus’ journey away from Galilee towards Tyre and Sidon where he meets a Gentile woman there
- then a healing of a huge crowd in the Decapolis
- then the healing of a mute and deaf man in the Decapolis
- then the feeding of the four thousand in the Decapolis
- then Jesus’ return to Galilee where he meets with some Pharisees again
- then Jesus talking about the leaven of the Pharisees on the boat
- then Jesus healing the blind man in Bethsaida
- then the really important event on the way to Caesarea Phillipi - the confession of Jesus as the Christ
- then immediately after that confession, Jesus predicts His suffering and gives instructions for discipleship
- then the Transfiguration - and this is the turning point, where all His Galilean ministry is behind Him
- and finally, the healing of the boy
In the next episode we’ll begin to look at the feeding of the 5000. As I’ve mentioned many times before, it’s one of the most significant events in the Gospels. As always, you can find all the other episodes in this series at www.joshuahawkins.com/gospels. I hope you come back next time. God bless.