The Land of Suffering and Pain
He went first to Nazareth, then left there and moved to Capernaum, beside the Sea of Galilee, in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali. This fulfilled what God said through the prophet Isaiah: “In the land of Zebulun and of Naphtali, beside the sea, beyond the Jordan River, in Galilee where so many Gentiles live, the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light. And for those who lived in the land where death casts its shadow, a light has shined.”
Matthew 4:13-16 NLT
I have to be honest; this passage has never made it into any of my Christmas messages or thoughts. I remember reading it, but I never understood the significance of these words that were first written by Isaiah hundreds of years before Christ was born.
Part of the problem is I’m not real knowledgeable about the geography and history of Israel. Zebulun and Naphtali mean nothing to me—at least it didn’t until today. Today, I discovered these are two areas in the northern part of Israel close to the Sea of Galilee. Historically, this was the area where people would first attack the nation of Israel. The Romans, Greeks, Syrians, Babylonians, and others would typically attack through this area. That’s why Isaiah called it “the land where death casts its shadow.”
This was a land of suffering and pain. They always took the worst of war and got little help from the rest of the nation.
In addition to the suffering, it was also a land where many Gentiles lived. This made the rest of the nation look down on people from this area.
But it was in this area—the place of suffering and death, the place of diversity—that Jesus chose to spend much of His adult life and start His ministry. Jesus started in a place rejected and neglected by others.
Perhaps, we should recognize that the place of our pain and suffering may be the place Jesus wants to start His ministry in us. When we invite Jesus into those places of hurt and rejection, we can discover His love and healing.
We should also note that Jesus started His ministry in this place full of Gentiles. He did not limit His ministry and miracles to the Jews only. Perhaps, we should recognize that Jesus did not come to earth for only one group of people—or one political party. Jesus came for the world—red, yellow, black, and white; they are all precious in His sight.
Holy Spirit, help me today to welcome Jesus into my area of pain and hurt. Help me to discover Your wholeness as You minister to and through me. Help me to see others the way You see them. Forgive my prejudice.
Scroll down to share what you feel God is saying to you based on today’s reading.