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God Knows What He Is Doing

John 4:1-3
The Pharisees heard that Jesus was gaining and baptising more disciples than John, although in fact it was not Jesus who baptised, but his disciples. When the Lord learned of this, he left Judea and went back once more to Galilee. (NIV)

Jesus did not want to start a religious movement. He had no interest in the Jewish agenda of overthrowing the Roman occupation, nor competing with John the Baptist (or any other group such as the Pharisees) by having more disciples. Jesus’ agenda had already been agreed in heaven with the Father and the Spirit. He was to demonstrate the character of God in a human lifestyle, train a small group of Apostles before dying on the cross, rising again and returning to heaven.

Jesus knew the timetable, and ensured that He was not distracted away from it. The whole of His life and ministry was focussed on the cross – and He arrived there just at the right time to be the Passover Lamb, who was sacrificed for the sins of the world (1 Corinthians 5:7). The region of Galilee, extending to the west of the Lake, was away from the religious focus of the country in Jerusalem, separated from it by the region of Samaria. No self-respecting religious Jew would pass through Samaria. And so Galilee was the ideal place for Jesus to train His Apostles … sufficiently out of the way to avoid official religious criticism or precipitate His arrest before God’s appointed time.

God often does His deepest work away from the spotlight. That is how He worked with Bible characters like Jacob, Joseph, Moses, David, and Paul. The trainee Apostles needed time to observe what Jesus was doing in public, and time in private to question Him about the meaning of His words and deeds. They needed to digest great truths without intimidation. We often learn important lessons when God allows circumstances which encourage us to listen to Him. However when we have learned the lessons, God will expect us to put them into practice in the public square, unashamed of our Saviour and confident of our identity in Him. So do not be discouraged when you see life changing: it probably means that after a period of spiritual retraining, you will become very useful to the Lord again.

Gracious God. I am grateful that You know everything and that You have Your plan for my life. Forgive me when I become distracted by the pressures of life and fail to listen to You or allow myself to be shaped by Your Word. Please help me to realise that You are working in me through all the circumstances of life so that I may become useful to You and a joy to Your heart. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams