We learned yesterday that in Jesus’ day, Israel was divided into three regions: Galilee in the north, Judea in the south, and Samaria in the middle. Galilee was an area inhabited primarily by Jews who had returned home from exile in Babylon. Though they were released 400 years earlier, many of them did not immediately come back to Israel. Instead, they settled in Greek-speaking cities like Alexandria in Egypt or in other parts of Babylonia, where they practiced Judaism but also picked up some of the local culture. As they trickled gradually back to their homeland, most of them settled in the northern region. Though they were very much Jewish and believed in Torah, they also believed in miracles and were more prophetic in their faith, kind of like the charismatic Christians of today. On the other hand, the Jews who lived in the southern region of Judea were conservative, generally wealthier, and strict and orthodox in their traditions. While you might expect that Jesus would have gone to this heart of Hebrew culture to launch His ministry, He spent nearly all of His time preaching and teaching in the region of Galilee, because He was a revolutionary and He gravitated to people whose hearts were open to seeing things outside the box of religious tradition.
My point in sharing this history with you, my friend, is to remind you that the message of Christianity finds a home in the hearts of those who have lived long in the land of exile. The ones who have dwelt outside the bubble of tradition understand that the unconditional love of Jesus is risky and radical, yet it is the human heart’s greatest fulfillment. As a disciple of the Savior, it’s important to roam away from the safety and security of the church, for only in so doing can you truly be a light to the world’s darkness!