The Return to Galilee

         Christ Jesus, when struggling with the burden of the world's woe in the garden of Gethsemane, told his disciples, who were soon to desert him, that after he was risen again he would go before them into Galilee. When the two Marys went to the sepulcher, the angel said to them, "Go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him." And as they departed from the sepulcher, Jesus himself met them and said, "Tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me." It will be remembered, likewise, that although Joseph was a citizen of Judea and had previously gone to Bethlehem to be taxed, as Luke tells us in the second chapter of his gospel, when he and Mary returned from Egypt with the young child Jesus, they went, not into Judea, but to Nazareth of Galilee.

         Why does Galilee thus stand out so prominently in the life of Christ Jesus that he was called the Galilean Prophet? There he spent his childhood; there he performed his first miracle, the turning of water into wine; and there many more of his miracles were performed. The majority of the disciples were Galileans, and the faithful women who followed him to Calvary were likewise Galileans. We read in Matthew, "And many women were there . . . which followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering unto him."

         A study of the four gospels makes clear that the Galileans were more receptive to the great truths taught by Jesus than were the people of Judea. There was not the resistance to his healing works in Galilee that there was in Judea. Judea was the seat of the ecclesiastical authority of the Judaic hierarchy; and it was this hierarchy, jealous of its powers and privileges, which stirred and poisoned the people against Jesus and his works. The mentality of the people of Judea was also less receptive to Jesus' teachings. He wisely began his work in the locality of least resistance; and from that base the leaven of the truths he uttered, and the healings he accomplished, radiated in every direction.

         It is significant that the word "Galilee" means "circle" or "ring." Galilee was the one place on earth at that period where the distance between the individual and Truth was not so great but that it could be bridged by spiritual teaching and demonstration without undue shock. Men must be prepared to accept Truth, in order that spiritual teaching may pierce their false beliefs and do its regenerating work. In "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" (p. 53) Mrs. Eddy points out the cause of the mental stir which mortals experience in the presence of spiritual teachings. She says, "Science shows the cause of the shock so often produced by the truth, — namely, that this shock arises from the great distance between the individual and Truth." In Galilee the people were receptive. The spiritual teachings of Moses and the prophets enlightened them. False theological concepts were not so assiduously propagated by organized sectarianism. Hence, "Jesus walked in Galilee: for he would not walk in Jewry, because the Jews sought to kill him."

         The Master began his three years' ministry by going to be baptized of John in Jordan; and then he "went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people." Drawn by his teachings and healings, people came from all points of the compass to hear him. In Galilee he preached that wonderful Sermon on the Mount; fed the five thousand; found and called his disciples, and prepared them for their lifework of preaching the gospel and healing the sick. Aside from the short journeyings into Samaria, Jerusalem, and the region of Tyre and Sidon, the main part of his ministry was in Galilee.

         When Jesus sent forth the twelve disciples on their first journey of preaching and healing, he did not send them to the darkened thought on the north and east, nor across the Mediterranean to pagan Rome and Greece, nor to the Samaritans on the south, whose religion had been adulterated by Babylonian paganism and materialism. They were sent to the "lost sheep of the house of Israel." In other words, they were sent to those who were more or less firmly grounded in the teachings of Jacob, Moses, and the prophets, and to some degree understood and accepted monotheism, the one God. The hearers were sufficiently prepared to receive the disciples' message. The disciples themselves were not yet so firmly grounded in the Christ, Truth, that they could approach and reach the pagan thought, which had no clearly defined concept of God, and worshiped, as Paul said, "the unknown God."

         Perhaps the disciples in their first journeys for healing and preaching did not go out of Galilee. But Jesus knew that Jerusalem, as well as Galilee, must be reached. To him it was evident that, despite all opposition, his work must be established at Jerusalem; and he likewise knew that God would sustain him in making that great demonstration. Jerusalem was the capital of the Jewish nation. There the Pharisees sat in Moses' seat, and interpreted and applied Mosaic law according to tradition.

         Jerusalem was the city of David around which centered the teachings of prophet and seer. Unless the demonstrations of Christ Jesus could stem the sectarian bitterness which flowed from Jerusalem, it was inevitable that his redemptive mission would be greatly hindered. In the long Galilean sojourn, during the last two years of his ministry, Jesus was preparing himself and his disciples for that inevitable struggle with ecclesiastical despotism centered at Jerusalem. His supreme duty was to meet and master all false claims of the Adam-dream, whether manifest in Jewish fanaticism, Roman despotism, or pagan idolatry; and Jerusalem was the one city where his supreme victory over death and the claims of the corporeal senses would most profoundly impress mankind, whether barbarian, Jew, Greek, or Roman.

         The nature of Jesus' work at Jerusalem is clearly seen when we study the definition of Jerusalem in the Glossary of "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" by Mary Baker Eddy (p. 589): "Mortal belief and knowledge obtained from the five corporeal senses; the pride of power and the power of pride; sensuality; envy; oppression; tyranny. Home, heaven." One purpose of the Master in delivering himself up at Jerusalem was to prove the nothingness of the mortal sense of Jerusalem and bring out the spiritual sense, — "Home, heaven."

         Towards the close of the third year of his work Jesus left the comparative quiet of Galilee to go to Judea, and there to beard the lion of materialism in its den. He went there to prove that matter, sin, and death are powerless to harm the God-inspired. In face of the intense antagonism of fanaticism and bigotry, the disciples wavered. Their understanding of Spirit was not sufficient to overcome the fear of threatening evil. They fled; and the Master was left alone to make that supreme sacrifice to which love for God and man impelled him. But where should they go? The Master had foreseen this contingency, and had provided for it: Go back to the quiet and peace of friendly Galilee; I will be there before you. Chastened and humbled, the disciples returned to Galilee. They no longer argued among themselves about who should be greatest in the kingdom of God. Humbled by their failure, they saw how imperfectly they had grasped their great Teacher's instructions and demonstrations. They had not been able to drink of his cup of bitterness. But when they turned from their worldly concepts and sought Truth righteously, their Master, victorious over death and the grave, was there again to greet them, to feed them, and to inspire them. When laboring at their fruitless fishing, they heard his loving call, "Children, have ye any meat?" Mrs. Eddy discerned the real spiritual import of that breakfast of the disciples with their risen Lord on the shore of the Galilean sea. She says in Science and Health (p. 34), "What a contrast between our Lord's last supper and his last spiritual breakfast with his disciples in the bright morning hours at the joyful meeting on the shore of the Galilean Sea!" And then she adds on the following page, "Discerning Christ, Truth, anew on the shore of time, they were enabled to rise somewhat from mortal sensuousness, or the burial of mind in matter, into newness of life as Spirit."

         Their Lord's victory over hate, malice, pain, and death, his reappearance to them in the same physical body, inspired and strengthened the disciples. They beheld more clearly the omnipotence of divine Love; and because they understood Love more clearly, they no longer feared human hate; nor did they ever again tremble before the frown of ecclesiasticism. Galilee had been their preparatory school, with the Master for a teacher. While they had failed in that first mighty test in their warfare with the powers of darkness at Gethsemane and Calvary and Jerusalem, we have no record that they ever again wavered. From the time of that spiritual breakfast on the shore of the Galilean sea, they were better healers of the sick and more profound preachers of divine metaphysics.

         The Christian Scientist has his Galilee when the "still small voice" of the Christ, Truth, first reaches his consciousness. Perhaps perplexed and doubtful, he was struggling with dogmas and creeds when Christian Science came to him with light and peace, satisfying his reason, quieting his fear, and calling him to be a fisher of men. Or, perhaps, social conventions bound him, and so filled his thought that the call of Truth awakened no answering response in his heart. Then a chance acquaintance on a train tells him of the power of Christian Science to heal and save. The truth of Christian Science dawns upon him, and he begins his Galilee service in the Master's vineyard. But in whatsoever manner Truth calls him, there is the same need for preparation and consecrated service, so that when the Armageddon battle comes, when the accumulated forces of evil and error are arrayed to stop the progress of Truth, he may hold his ground in unwavering consciousness of the power of divine Love to conquer every evil belief, however threatening or imposing it may appear. Sooner or later he must conquer hate and evil for himself, whether apparently within himself or supposed to be projected at him. He must conquer his own fears and overcome his wrong desires, as well as the belief of assaults from without. It is just as essential to withstand the more vigorous attacks of evil, as to experience the joy, sweetness, and peace of the Galilean days when divine Mind unfolds its sweet concords and profounder meanings.

         The reasons why a Christian Scientist fails sometimes to stand when he follows the Christ, Truth, from Galilee to the more severe tests of Jerusalem, are not difficult to see. Like the disciples, he sometimes thinks about who shall be greatest, instead of pondering the things of Spirit: he thinks about place and power. He may believe that he is not appreciated, and that his talents are not recognized. He becomes darkened; he no longer has clear spiritual discernment, and lacks the healing power which banishes pain and sin.

         Or Christian Science may come to him in an hour of great need. Perhaps he is healed of some serious physical ailment, or is rescued from mental darkness and depression. Whatever the healing, he is filled with rejoicing; he gladly begins the study of Christian Science, and follows the footsteps of the Master and the inspired admonitions of our beloved Leader. After a time, larger opportunities open before him. Patients come asking for help, and he may refuse to treat them on the specious plea that he is not a practitioner and his business takes all his time. Or his advancing course may arouse the envy and hate of the carnal mind; he fails to take the time from his daily business affairs to keep his thought on the spiritual teachings of Science and Health, and, like the disciples of old, he approaches Jerusalem without being prepared to overcome its false claims. What is the result? He, too, must return to Galilee and there again work, meekly and humbly awaiting the call of Christ, Truth, which always seeks us out when we are ready to be exalted and are prepared for the holy ministry of destroying hate, fear, and disease, — leading men to the throne of God.

         Sometimes a Christian Scientist experiences struggles in giving up positions of place and authority in the Christian Science movement. Perhaps he has become a Reader or a church officer, or occupied other places of trust and responsibility, filling these positions creditably and acceptably. But after a time the march of events and his own growth may make clear to him that he should devote his entire time to the work of healing the sick. Blessed is he who can, happily and joyously, discern and follow the leadings of divine wisdom. He is thus prepared to behold the risen Christ and to receive that Pentecostal outpouring of Spirit which follows obedience and humility. If he does not obey what to him is the demand of Truth, it may be necessary for him to go back again to Galilee and begin over again. But he will discover that the Christ, Truth, is ready and willing to feed him, if he is hungry and has profited from his failures and experiences; for

". . . warm, sweet, tender, even yet
         A present help is He;
And faith has yet its Olivet,
         And love its Galilee."

         A Christian Scientist may have to go back to Galilee many times before he is freed from pride, fear, hate, and desire for place and power, and is so purified that he is a vessel fit for the Master's use. Then he not only can respond to the Master's call to preach to the lost tribes of Israel, but is prepared for that universal call, after the spiritual breakfast on the shores of the Galilean sea, to go "into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature," and to prove his work with "signs following."


"The Return to Galilee" by Ezra W. Palmer
The Christian Science Journal, December, 1923

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