Dear CME Family:
The Jerusalem story – which most of us have been highlighting this past Holy Week –withdraws from center stage in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke just long enough to hear of a sighting (yes, a seeing, a focusing) in Galilee.
“He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee, …” (Luke 24:6).
“… go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him …” (Matthew 28:7, KJV).
I am attracted like a magnet to the mention, the suggestion, indeed, the pull of Galilee. And it happens even on the glorious resurrection Sunday in Jerusalem! “… [T]ell his disciples … He goeth before you into Galilee ….”
“Galilee of the nations” – the place called Galilee, that is home to both Jews and non-Jews. Galilee – where Capernaum, and Cana, and Tiberias are. Galilee – where Nazareth signifies His childhood upbringing, where Jesus raised a son from the dead in Nain, and where Mount Tabor (believed to be the site of the Transfiguration) rises above the plain of Jezreel. Go, the disciples are directed; go, meet Jesus in Galilee.
And, according to Matthew’s Gospel, it is in Galilee where Jesus gives them what we call “The Great Commission”: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations … (Matthew 28:19a, KJV). The New Revised Standard Version reads, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations [the word “nations” is from the Greek word ethne, and could mean “ethnicities” as well as “the others, the Gentiles”], baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you …” (Matthew 28:19-20a).
But how will they see Him in Galilee? (1) They will physically see Him when He gathers there with them and speaks to them. (2) Later they will see Him as their memories are awakened in those places where He walked with them, where they heard Him teach, and where they saw Him heal. (3) And they will see Him in the changed lives of people they meet who had been touched, blessed, strengthened, and made whole by His persona (and I mean persona as in “God in three persons, blessed Trinity”).
As I said earlier, I am attracted like a magnet to the mention, the suggestion, indeed, the pull of Galilee in these Jerusalem resurrection narratives. I believe it makes us look beyond the tomb to the call, to the Commission, to the main focus that is ahead of us: to make disciples (not just followers, but imitators of Him [another meaning in Greek for mathētēs, which is translated disciple]; imitators of Jesus, of His character, and of His ways).
A memory, please. In 1966, the General Conference elected the Rev. Nathaniel Linsey the General Secretary of Evangelism. Not long after that election, he released a 45-rpm vinyl record. On one side of the record was Rev. Linsey and others singing, “Lord, Send a Revival,” a theme song for his evangelism campaign. But on the other side was the melodious, impressionable voice of Mrs. Esther L. Isom, singing the words of this song, “So Send I You”:
These words call us to Galilee.
You – I dare say, we – will see all of those places, all of those images, and we will encounter all of those experiences in a life of following Him from Jerusalem to Galilee. It is a call to the Galilees of our individuals ministries; to the Galilees of every discipleship challenge; to the Galilees of responding when things are well and when things are not well. These are the places, the stations, and the conditions where we – beyond the empty tomb – will see Jesus.
Senior Bishop Lawrence Reddick