Jesus’ ministry in Galilee - cont.
The commissioning of the twelve disciples
Jesus next goes through all the towns and villages of Galilee, teaching in the synagogues, preaching the good news of the
kingdom, and healing people of all kinds of diseases and sickness. There are now a great number of people in need of his
ministering, so Jesus gathers his chosen twelve disciples to prepare them for the task. They are Simon (who is called
Peter), his brother Andrew, James and John, sons of Zebedee, Philip, Bartholomew, Thomas, Matthew, James (son of
Alphaeus, not Jesus’ brother), Lebbaeus, Simon the Canaanite and Judas Iscariot. Jesus commissions them to go and
preach the kingdom of heaven is at hand, but commands them not to go to the Gentiles or Samaritans, but to go only to
the lost sheep of Israel. They are given instructions on how they are to go about their task, and given authority to heal the
sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead and cast out demons.
Ministering throughout Galilee
Now John the Baptist, who has been imprisoned, sends two of his disciples to Jesus to get confirmation that he is the
Messiah. Jesus tells them to go back to John and report the things they have witnessed and heard concerning his healing
works, knowing that John would recognise these as having been prophesied by Isaiah. Turning to the crowd, Jesus talks to
them about John the Baptist, commending him. He then speaks against the cities, where most of his good works had been
done, for not repenting, mentioning Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum by name.
Sometime later, on the Sabbath, Jesus is walking through the cornfields with his disciples who are feeling hungry and so
pluck and eat ears of corn. The Pharisees see this and question Jesus because they view this act as work, which is not
lawful on the Sabbath. Jesus rebukes them citing David eating the shewbread when he was hungry, and how priests by the
law work in the temple on the Sabbath. Jesus then questions their understanding of the scripture that says, For I desire
mercy and not sacrifice [Hos 6:6], having stated he is greater than the temple and that the Son of man is Lord even of the
Jesus leaves them and goes to the synagogue. There he finds a man with a withered hand and seizes the opportunity to
confront the Pharisees by healing him. The Pharisees then begin to plot against Jesus and discuss how they might destroy
him, but Jesus, knowing their thoughts, slips away.
Later, a blind and dumb man, possessed with a demon, is brought to Jesus and is completely healed by him. The people,
amazed at what they have witnessed, begin to recognise that this man might be the son of David. When the Pharisees hear
this they again accuse Jesus of casting out demons in the name of the Devil. Jesus is offended by this accusation and tells
them that he casts out demons by the Spirit of God. He explains the fault in their kind of logic and warns them that
blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven. The Pharisees, despite what they have witnessed, ask Jesus for a
sign. He again rebukes them and, referring to Jonah, covertly prophesies his death and resurrection.
Later, his mother and brethren come to speak with Jesus. When Jesus is told they are waiting to see him, he gestures
towards his disciples saying, Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in
heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.
The Kingdom Parables
The same day Jesus goes and sits by the sea and a large crowd gathers around him. The crowd grows so great that Jesus
gets into a boat and sits a little way off from the shore. He then speaks to them in parables, the first being the parable of
the sower who sows seeds on various types of ground. When his disciples ask why he speaks in parables, Jesus explains
that it is so that only the spiritually discerning can understand and receive the benefits. Jesus then explains the parable of
the sower, providing a key to understanding further parables. He then goes on to tell the parable of the tares that the
enemy sows amongst the wheat. The next two parables are given, the first telling of the mustard seed that grows
unnaturally large so that birds (representing the Devil, from the parable of the sower) are able to lodge in its branches. The
next tells of leaven (idiomatic of sin) hidden in three measures of meal, contaminating the whole.
Jesus then sends the crowd away and returns to the house where his disciples ask for an explanation of the parable of the
tares. This Jesus does and tells them three more parables likening the kingdom of heaven to treasure hidden in a field, a
pearl of great price and a net cast into the sea gathering good and bad, the bad being eventually cast away. Jesus asks his
disciples if they understood these parables, to which they reply they did.
Jesus then leaves the house and returns to Nazareth to teach in the synagogue. The people are so astonished at his
teaching, his words of wisdom and the mighty works they know he has done that they question how the son of a carpenter,
whose brethren they knew and still live amongst them, could possibly attain such abilities. Jesus tells them, A prophet is
not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house. Because of their unbelief, Jesus no longer ministers in
Jesus withdraws from Galilee
Herod’s reaction to Jesus’ ministry
A while back, Herod the tetrarch had beheaded John the Baptist on the occasion of Herod’s birthday. John had been
imprisoned for speaking against the marriage of Herod to Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, because it was unlawful.
Herodias had her daughter dance for Herod and he was so aroused that he rashly promised her up to half his kingdom.
Having been coached by her mother, she asked for the head of John the Baptist on a platter. The request dismayed Herod,
but his promise was made in front of all his guests, so John was executed. Now, when the fame of Jesus reaches Herod’s
ears, he fears that Jesus might be John the Baptist risen from the dead.
Feeding the 5000 on the eastern shore of Galilee
After burying John, his disciples come to Jesus and tell him of all that had happened. Jesus, wanting to spend some time
alone, crosses the sea by ship to a quiet place. But the people, hearing of this, gather and go around the coast to meet
him. When Jesus reaches the shore and sees all these people, he is filled with compassion and heals their sick. When
evening comes, the disciples become concerned the crowd will not have time to get to a town to buy food. The disciples
have just five loaves and two fishes between them. Jesus asks the people to sit; he looks to heaven, blesses and breaks
the food, then gives it to his disciples to distribute amongst the people. When they have finished eating, there are still
twelve baskets of fragments remaining, having amply fed five thousand men plus women and children.
The crowd is dispersed and Jesus sends his disciples back across the sea while he goes up the mountain to be alone and
pray. During the night, when the disciples’ boat is in the middle of the sea, the weather changes and a strong wind begins
to toss the boat around. Jesus is now coming to join them and is walking across the sea, but they do not recognise him
and, thinking they are seeing a spirit, they become fearful. When Jesus calls out to them, Peter asks if he can walk on the
water to meet him. When he does he is distracted by the waves, begins to sink and calls out to Jesus to save him. Jesus
reaches out to Peter, telling him that he started to sink through lack of faith. When the two get into the ship, the wind
ceases and the disciples worship Jesus, acknowledging he is the Son of God.
Later, the Pharisees again challenge Jesus, this time asking why his disciples ignore the tradition of the elders by not going
through the elaborate ritual required when washing their hands before they eat. Jesus rebukes them, telling them that they
disobey God’s law of Honour thy father and mother by their tradition through which, in declaring their actions towards their
parents as a gift by which their parents will profit (called ‘Corban’), they avoid any commitment. Jesus tells them, and later
explains to his disciples, that it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth,
which is from the heart.
Jesus then goes to the region of Tyre and Sidon. From there a woman comes to him begging for mercy and help with her
daughter who is suffering badly from possession by the Devil. He initially ignores her but draws out a confession of faith
whereby she, as a Gentile, likens herself to a puppy being given food from its master’s table. Jesus acknowledges her great
faith and her daughter is healed.
Jesus feeds the 4000 at Decapolis
Jesus then moves on and comes to a mountainside by the Sea of Galilee, where great multitudes come with many sick
people requiring healing. After three days, Jesus has compassion for them and seeks to feed them. As with the five
thousand before, the people are all fed by the multiplication of food. This time it is from seven loaves and a few little
fishes, feeding four thousand men besides women and children, and having seven baskets left over when all are fed.
The people are then all sent away and Jesus goes by boat to the coast of Magdala. Here the Pharisees and Sadducees
approach Jesus asking for a sign from heaven, but they are rebuked for not recognising the signs of the times from
scripture. He then turns to his disciples warning them to take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the
Sadducees. At first, they don’t understand, confusing the warning with their lack of bread. Jesus reminds them of the
feeding of the five thousand, then four thousand, emphasising that lack of food isn’t a problem and that his warning is
specifically against the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees. The penny drops and they realise Jesus is warning them
against their doctrine.
To Caesarea Philippi
They then travel on to the region of Caesarea Philippi where Jesus asks them who they think he is, to which Peter
acknowledges him as the Christ, the Son of the living God. Jesus tells Peter (whose name means a rock or stone, that is, a
little rock) that this was revealed to him by the Spirit and that his church would be built on this rock (that is a ‘mass of
rock’, meaning Jesus himself). They are told not to reveal to anyone that he is the Messiah. From this point on, Jesus
begins to explain that he must go to Jerusalem where he will suffer at the hands of the elders, chief priests and scribes, be
killed and will rise again on the third day. Peter rebukes Jesus for thinking this way, but is told that his thoughts are from
Satan, contrasting with his earlier revelation from God.
Six days later, Jesus takes Peter, James and John up a mountain where they witness his transfiguration and meeting with
Moses and Elijah. The three are told not to mention what they have seen to anyone until after his resurrection.
Soon after, they join a multitude of people amongst whom is a man whose son is possessed, and whom the disciples were
not previously able to heal. Jesus rebukes the Devil, and the child is cured. When asked by his disciples why they were
unable to cure him, he tells them that their faith was not strong enough, but, in any event, this kind of exorcism would
have required prayer and fasting.
Jesus last ministry in Galiliee
Jesus discusses his death
Whilst still in Galilee, Jesus again tells his disciples how he will be betrayed and killed, but will rise again on the third day.
When they then arrive at Capernaum, Peter is approached by the tax collectors asking if Jesus pays his tribute. He replies
yes, but Jesus later explains to Peter how he, Jesus, shouldn’t be obliged to pay tribute, being the ‘heir to the kingdom’.
But to avoid offence, the tribute money is miraculously provided from the mouth of a fish caught by Peter.
His disciples had been disputing which of them should be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven, and put the question to
Jesus. He doesn’t answer their question as asked, but draws a child to him and tells them that anyone with the faith of a
little child will enter the kingdom, and anyone who humbles himself as a little child will be among the greatest in the
kingdom of heaven. Then, using children as a metaphor for those who are truly humble in their faith, Jesus warns of the
consequences of anyone who offends such a person, for he came to save the lost, and it is the will of the Father that none
of those saved should perish.
Whilst speaking of offences, Jesus provides a three-stage approach for dealing with unrepentant sinners within the church
community: to approach the offender on a one-to-one basis; to then take one or more witnesses to convict the sinner; and
finally to bring the matter before the church. If none of these actions bears fruit, then the offender is to be treated as an
Peter asks Jesus how often he should forgive the same sin committed against him – till seven times? – to which Jesus
replies seventy times seven. Jesus then relates the parable of the unforgiving servant, representing the extent of God’s
forgiveness and the forgiveness we are consequently expected to extend to others.
[Matt 19:1-12; Lk 10:1-13:21]
Teaching concerning divorce
Jesus and his followers travel to the area of Judea where many more people follow Jesus and are healed. The Pharisees
come intending to entrap Jesus with a question concerning divorce and the law as given by Moses. Jesus responds by
referring to Genesis and confirming God’s true intent for marriage, one man and one woman, which should be for life.
Should a person then divorce, marriage to another is not permitted all the time the spouse is still living, the exception
given relating only to the Jewish period of betrothal.
The mission of the seventy
Jesus sends seventy of his disciples out to preach the gospel with the ability to support their preaching with miracles, and
with full instructions on how to practise their mission. They are to go without any physical means of support, relying on the
hospitality of those cities that accept them, but not lingering in those that don’t.
They later return with joy reporting the success they had experienced, including being able to exorcise spirits. Jesus tells
them they are blessed, as many prophets and kings had desired to have seen and heard the things they have seen and
The parable of The Good Samaritan
A lawyer asks Jesus what he should do to inherit eternal life. Jesus draws from him the need to love God and your
neighbour, then relates the parable of The Good Samaritan as an example of what is meant by loving your neighbour.
At Bethany with Mary and Martha
On an occasion when Jesus is at Martha’s house, Martha complains that her sister is spending time sitting at his feet
leaving her to do the work. He tells Martha that Mary is right to take the opportunity to care for her soul rather than the
things of this world.
Teachings in Judea
Later, when Jesus has finished praying, he is asked by one of his disciples to teach them to pray. He teaches them what we
refer to as the Lord’s Prayer, encouraging them to always ‘ask, seek and knock’ through prayer, to which God will respond.
When Jesus later casts out a demon, some people say that it is done in the name of Satan (perhaps having heard of the
Pharisees’ accusation some time before) to which Jesus explains the absurdity of that idea, and then warns it is possible for
a person to be repossessed to a greater degree if precautions are not taken once cleansed. A woman speaks up and says
how blessed Jesus’ mother is to have borne him, to which Jesus replies that it is more blessed to hear the word of God and
Then, when many people are gathered around him, Jesus refutes those looking for a sign, citing Jonas (Jonah) and
Solomon as being signs of their times, saying that one who is greater than Jonas and Solomon is before them, and their
eyes should be able to perceive this.
Jesus is then invited to dine with a Pharisee, but when he sits to eat the Pharisee expresses surprise that Jesus did not
wash his hands first. As before, Jesus condemns the Pharisees for their hypocrisy in appearing to be righteous by their
ceremonies and behaviour, but not following the spirit of the law in many things they do, pronouncing woes against the
Pharisees and the lawyers in his condemnation.
Meantime, a very large crowd has been gathering along with Jesus’ disciples who are waiting on him. When Jesus joins the
crowd, he first turns to his disciples and again warns them against ‘the leaven of the Pharisees’, which is hypocrisy, against
reticence in professing the gospel and in blaspheming against the Holy Spirit, the latter of which is an unforgivable sin.
In response to a request by a man concerning inheritance due him, Jesus tells a parable about covetousness, teaching his
disciples to first seek the kingdom of God, encouraging them to focus their lives on God and live in dependence on Him. He
then tells another parable to warn them they will not know the hour when he will return, but they are to remain faithful to
his teaching, for the faithful will be rewarded, but the unfaithful will be punished. However, they are to expect trouble and
persecution because of their faith.
Jesus then speaks to all the people, warning them to discern what is right, so they too might be prepared in time for the
judgement to come. On being told of Galileans who were slaughtered by Pilate when making sacrifices, Jesus teaches that
fate is not caused by sin, and emphasises the necessity of repentance. Then, using the parable of the fig tree, teaches the
importance of bearing fruit in one’s life.
Later, when Jesus is teaching in a synagogue on the Sabbath, he heals a woman who has been afflicted for eighteen years,
and puts to shame the ruler of the synagogue for his indignation that this healing work was done on the Sabbath. Jesus
then repeats the parables of the mustard seed and the yeast, first told when he was ministering in Galilee, as these
parables warn against false teaching in the church.
30-Day Reading Plan
This is a 30-day reading plan based on an average of 15 minutes per session - a total read time of 7½ hours.
The actual read times vary from 12 to 20 minutes to accommodate for practical read session end points. If the reading
times don’t suit you, then simply go at your own pace and note where you finished.
Please select your reading day below
New Testament History Books -
Old Testament History Books -
New Testament Epistles -
The Prophets -
The Poetry Books -