Visiting the Holy Land: Capernaum

July 7, 2011

 While visiting Capernaum, I was struck by all the things in Jesus’ ministry that happened there and nearby.  Shortly after Jesus began public ministry, he moved fromNazareth about 20 miles northeast to Capernaum, on the northwest shore of the Sea of Galilee (Matthew 4:13).  It was a strategic move, since Capernaumwas a larger, well-located town in that day.  Some of the most significant things Jesus did outsideJerusalemtook place in, or around, Capernaum. 

Capernaum was near Bethsaida, the base of the fishing operations of the (future) apostles Peter and his brother Andrew, as well as Philip (John 1:44).  Matthew was there as a Roman tax collector (Matthew 9:1, 9), covering the major highway between the Tigris-EuphratesValley and the Coastal Highway northeast from Egypt.  Other apostles, like James and John, lived nearby and Jesus encountered them walking along the Sea of Galilee(Matthew 4:21).

From the positive perspective, Jesus gave the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) on a hill overlooking Capernaum and the traditional locations of the great miracles of the feeding of the 5,000 (Matthew 14) and the 4,000 (Matthew 15) are nearby.  In Capernaum itself, He healed the paralyzed servant of the Roman centurion, whom he commended for having faith greater than anyone in Israel(Matthew 8:5-13).  Immediately after that miraculous healing, Jesus healed Peter’s mother-in-law of a fever (8:14-15) and cast demons out of “many who were demon-possessed” (8:16-17).

Sadly, that’s not the entire story on Jesus’ reception by the people of Capernaum.  After all His teaching in their midst, and all His miracles, most of them still refused to repent and rejected Him in unbelief (11:23-24).  The lesson here: the Lord does not look at all favorably on those who know the truth, but have hardened hearts!

           

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