Reasons for Retiring to Galilee.

-. JESUS SETS OUT FROM JUDÆA FOR GALILEE. Subdivision A.REASONS FOR RETIRING TO GALILEE.
a MATT. 4:12; b MARK 1:14; c LUKE 3:19-20; d JOHN 4:1-4.

      c 19 but Herod the tetrarch [son of Herod the Great, and tetrarch, or governor, of Galilee], being reproved by him [that is, by John the Baptist] for Herodias his brother's wife, and for all the evil things which Herod had done [A full account of the sin of Herod and persecution of John will be found at Markvi 1:1 Matthew 14:1-12 and Mark vi. 14-29 Matthew 14-29 . John had spoken the truth to Herod as fearlessly as to the Pharisees, publicans and soldiers],

  20 added this also to them all [the sins of Herod, as a ruler, already outweighed his virtues; (comp. Daniel 5:27 ); but, with reckless abandon, Herod went on, adding to the weighty reasons which justified his condemnation], that he shut up John in prison. [In the fortress at Machærus, east of the Dead Sea, as we learn from Josephus. The duration of the ministry of John the Baptist is variously estimated at from fourteen to eighteen months.]

  b 14 Now after John was delivered up [either delivered up by the people to Herod ( Matthew 17:12 ), or delivered up by Herod himself to the warden of the castle of Machærus ( Luke 12:58 ), or by Providence to Herod himself-- Acts 2:23 ], a when he [Jesus] heard [he was in Judæa when he heard it] that John was delivered up [and],

  d 1 When therefore the Lord knew that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John [We saw at John 3:26 how the Baptist heard about the number of Jesus' baptisms, being informed by his jealous friends. Like jealous friends, no doubt, informed the Pharisees. Jesus may have known of this information being given by reason of his supernatural powers, but it is more likely that he heard of it in a natural way]

  2 (although Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples) [Jesus, as divine Lawgiver, instituted baptism, and his disciples administered it. We nowhere hear of the disciples of John administering baptism. In fact, the Baptist, like the disciples of Jesus, baptized under a divine commission, and could not delegate the power to others. It was the office of Jesus to commission others to this work, not to perform it himself. Had he done so, those baptized by him might have foolishly claimed for themselves some peculiar honor by reason thereof ( 1 Corinthians 1:14 1 Corinthians 1:15 ). Jesus was the spiritual baptizer, in which baptism the efficacy lies in the administrant; but water baptism, the efficacy of which lies rather in the spirit of the one baptized than in the virtues of the administrant, Jesus left to his disciples],

  3 he left Judæa, and departed again {a withdrew b came} d into Galilee. [We have in these verses two reasons assigned for the withdrawal of Jesus into Galilee, namely: 1. The imprisonment of John the Baptist 2. Knowledge of the Pharisees that Jesus was baptizing more disciples than John. The first gives us the reason why he went to Galilee, the second the reason why he left Judæa. Jesus did not go into Galilee through fear of Herod, for Herod was tetrarch of Galilee. The truth is, the absence of John called for the presence of Jesus. The northern part of Palestine was the most fruitful soil for the gospel. During the last six or eight months of John's ministry we find him in this northern field, preparing it for Christ's kingdom. While we can not say definitely that John was in Galilee (Bethabara and Ænon being the only two geographical names given), yet he certainly drew his audiences largely from the towns and cities of Galilee. While John occupied the northern, Jesus worked in the southern district of Palestine; but when John was removed, then Jesus turned northward, that he might sow the seed of the kingdom in its most fruitful soil. But if there was a reason why he should go to Galilee, there was an equal reason why he should depart from Judæa. His popularity, manifesting itself in the number of his baptisms, was exciting that envy and opposition which caused the rulers of Judæa eventually to take the life of Jesus ( Matthew 27:18 ). The Pharisees loved to make proselytes themselves ( Matthew 23:15 ). They no doubt envied John's popularity, and much more, therefore, would they be disposed to envy Christ. The influence of the Pharisees was far greater in Judæa than in Galilee, and the Sanhedrin would readily have arrested Jesus had he remained in Judæa ( John 7:1 ; 10:39 ), and arrest at this time would have marred the work of Jesus. Therefore, since it is neither sinful nor unbecoming to avoid persecution, Jesus retired to Galilee, when he remained until his second passover. By birth a prophet of Judæa, he became, in public estimation, by this retirement, a prophet of Galilee. Though Jesus first taught in Judæa, the ministry in Galilee so far eclipsed the work in Judæa that it was spoken of as the place of beginning ( Luke 23:5 ; Acts 10:37 ), and prophetically designated as the scene of the divine manifestation-- Matthew 4:14 .]

  4 And he must needs pass through Samaria. [The province which took its name from the city of Samaria, and which lay between Judæa and Galilee. Owing to the hatred which existed between Jews and Samaritans, many of the Jews went from Jerusalem to Galilee by turning eastward, crossing the Jordan, and passing northward through Peræa. This journey required about seven days, while the more direct route, through Samaria, only took three days. Galilæans often passed through Samaria on their way to and from the Jerusalem feast (Josephus' Ant. xx. 6, 1). The arrest of John would scatter his flock of disciples ( Mark 14:27 ), and Jesus, as chief shepherd ( 1 Peter 5:1-4 ), hastened to Galilee, to gather together those which might else go astray and be lost.]