12Now when Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee. 13He left Nazareth and made his home in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, 14so that what had been spoken through the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: 15“Land of Zebulun, land of Naphtali, on the road by the sea, across the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles – 16the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death light has dawned.” 17From that time Jesus began to proclaim, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”
We don’t like to see Jesus running away from a fight. His cousin John has been arrested; and rather than rush to his defense, Jesus withdraws to Galilee—familiar ground. What follows is a great injustice. John is killed at the whim of the wicked king, Herod. We might even fault Jesus for this. When he hides in the wilderness, he’s reminded that he has the power to call down legions of angels to his defense. Of course, Jesus doesn’t do this—ever. He exercises caution and judgement, knowing that his time will come. He meets injustice himself, finding it at the cross. We might be frustrated, then, with Jesus’ inaction for a time—with God’s inaction in this present time. Jesus reminds us that the immediate solution isn’t always the best: that, in light of God’s coming kingdom, our job, above all else, is to repent. It’s not what we would have chosen, but it’s the light guide shines into the valley of the shadow of death.
Accept our repentance, God of grace, for the ways we have failed you. We have trusted in our own way instead of yours. We look for the bold solution, which drowns out your still, small voice. Let your Word speak deep within us, to remind us, assure us, and encourage us, that, in Jesus Christ, the kingdom of God is here. We pray in Christ. Amen.