March 20, 2021
And He sent away the multitude, got into the boat, and came to the region of Magdala (Matthew 15:39).
Trying to identify places in the land of Jesus is not always an easy task, especially since we are 2,000 years removed from the biblical record. That is true with identifying Magdala. The parallel passage in Mark 8:10 identifies the place as Dalmanutha. A.T. Robertson identifies the place as Magadan, Albert Barnes says it is ancient Migdol (Joshua 19:38) in the land of Gennesaret on the western side of the Sea of Galilee, directly east of Cana where Jesus turned water into wine.
“It is a wretched hamlet of a dozen low huts huddled into one, and the whole ready to tumble into a dismal heap of black basaltic rubbish (The Land and the Book, vol.2, p. 108). It is believed Mary Magdalene was born there (hence the name Magdalene - Mary of Magdala). She was the woman from whom Jesus cast out 7 demons (Luke 8:2). It is believed Dalmanutha was a small village near Magdala. Neither community exists today.
This marks a turning point in Jesus’ ministry. The 3rd period of ‘retirement’ is concluded (ministry to Gentiles) and the 4th period of ‘retirement’ began (return to the Jews in Galilee). Again, the idea of ‘retirement’ is not the same then as it is today. Jesus did not ‘retire’ from His ministry. His desire was to focus on preparing the disciples for His death, burial, and resurrection, and their leadership in the Gospel ministry after His ascension to heaven. So, His ‘retirement’ was simply an attempt to transition from public ministry to private ministry.
Will this 4th period see His desire to focus on the disciples achieved? No. But there is a lesson here. While we may have the intention to minister to a select few (personal discipleship, individual Bible study group, individual ministry group, etc.), the need for other people to hear, believe, and develop in the Gospel of Jesus Christ is as great as it has ever been. Do you not say, “There are still four months and then comes the harvest?” Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest! And he who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit for eternal life, that both he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together. For in this the saying is true: “One sows and another reaps.” I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored; others have labored, and you have entered into their labors (John 4:35-38).
“Father, may we never forget that the ministry of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is never ending - there will always be people ready to hear and respond to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. May we never be so tied down with our personal agendas that we cannot see the bigger picture of the Kingdom in this area. Open avenues and doors and hearts/minds to the truth of Jesus Christ, and may Your Holy Spirit lead us to those opportunities to share with others His salvation. To Your honor and glory I ask, Amen.”