Jesus in Galilee
Jesus lived in different places during his lifetime, but one of the places he especially spent a lot of time in was Galilee. Jesus lived in Galilee during most of his life, and most of His mortal ministry was conducted there. During his time on Earth, Christ reestablished his gospel and died for all of God’s children, and many of the events leading up to his sacrifice started in Galilee.
Galilee in Jesus’ Day
Galilee in Jesus’ time was one of three provinces of ancient Palestine, which is located in modern-day northern Israel. Galilee was also split into lower and upper sections that were divided by a valley, and scholars have approximated about 20 cities between the two areas. Lower Galilee had plains and hills that made for beautiful agricultural farmland. Upper Galilee, also called “Galilee of the Gentiles” was more mountainous, and with the higher elevation, Galilee had a fairly cool climate in the winter and frequent spring season that provided a lot of rainfall. Notable landmarks in Galilee include the northern part of the Jordan River as well as the Sea of Galilee.
Jesus was born in Bethlehem, which was a small town in Judea. However, after fleeing King Herod’s decree to kill all male infants, Mary and Joseph took Jesus into Egypt. After living there for a couple of years, Jesus and his family returned to Nazareth, a village near one of the main cities in Galilee. According to scholars, Jesus was largely raised in Nazareth, which was located in lower Galilee, and then traveled in other parts of Galilee throughout his adulthood, among other surrounding areas in Judea.
Who Ruled Galilee in Jesus’ Time?
It’s also important to understand the politics of Galilee. At this time, territories like Galilee were part of the Roman Empire, so the Jewish people were in constant conflict between Roman soldiers, rulers, and tax laws. More specifically, Galilee was part of the client kingdom of Judea which was ruled by one of Herod’s sons. Client kingdoms were areas that the Roman Senate claimed without directly ruling over the people themselves. The people of Judea were allowed to practice their own faith and customs (which were usually enforced by the Pharisees and the Sadducees) as long as they paid their taxes to the Roman authorities and obeyed other Roman laws.
While the Jews were able to preserve their traditions, they were waiting for the Messiah to return and deliver them from their oppressors and restore Israel; however, Jesus’ mission was to deliver them from sin and suffering when he died for all of us. This is partially why many rejected Jesus as the Messiah because he was concerned with their eternal salvation, not with the current political climate.
How is Galilee significant to Christianity?
Christ’s ministry across Galilee caused a great deal of disruption to the Roman Empire, as well as the Sadducees and Pharisees, which ultimately led to His crucifixion. The Sadducees and Pharisees were the cultural leaders of the Jews; Pharisees were usually scholars that taught Jewish tradition, while Sadducees were part of the sect, but spent more time in the temples as a more aristocratic party.
Both parties were hypocritical, and when Jesus called them out on their hypocrisy, they feared they would lose the authority and power they had over the people as Jesus gained popularity. They also disagreed with some of Jesus’ teachings. Because of their fear and pride, they conspired with Roman leaders to have Jesus arrested in Galilee, which resulted in Christ being tried and crucified before the people in Jerusalem.
The People of Galilee
Josephus, a trusted 1st Century AD Roman-Jewish historian, approximated a 3,000,000 population in Galilee. Galilee was known for its industry, and the people were a proud and hardy community with distinct accents. Though Galilee was made of a blend of Jews and Gentiles, the Jewish customs were still relevant to most residents because political and religious laws were rooted in the Judaic religion. This religious community took great pride in their work and heritage, so much so that it was the people of Galilee that resisted Roman rule the most.
All 12 of Jesus’ apostles were part of Galilee in some way, whether they were natives or came to reside there. Simon Peter, Andrew, James, and John were Jesus' first disciples, and all were approached by Jesus when they were working as fishermen in Galilee, where Jesus called them to be “fishers of men” (Matthew 4:13–22).
Other Significant Events in Galilee
Many of Jesus’ teachings and miracles were performed in Galilee, which we read about in the Book of Matthew: “And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people (Matthew 4:23).
Jesus' first miracle, turning water into wine, occurred in Galilee (John 2:1-11). The Sermon on the Mount also happened in Galilee, where Christ shared some of his most important principles with crowds of people on the mountainside (Matthew 5:1-2), not to mention the Transfiguration of Jesus. Parables, lessons, and miracles were a constant part of Christ’s ministry, which happened all throughout Galilee.
See Galilee Brought to Life in The Chosen
Jesus was raised in Galilee, more specifically Nazareth. He performed much of His mortal ministry here and ultimately faced terrible scrutiny at the hands of the Romans and the Pharisees and Sadducees, which led to His crucifixion.
Galilee is a place rich with life-changing history and important figures who shaped both Christianity and scripture. You can see Jesus in Galilee, other historical figures, and many events that took place in Galilee by watching The Chosen. Start streaming episode 1 today!