Capernaum was a busy fishing village with a population of about 1500 located on the northern shores of the Sea of Galilee. Archeological excavations have revealed two ancient synagogues built one over the other. A house turned into a church by the Byzantines is said to be the house of Saint Peter. (Wikipedia) It became an important stop for Roman soldiers. Jesus called His first disciples from the area and spent a lot of time in Capernaum and He may have lived with Peter’s family while here or other disciples.
And leaving Nazareth he went and lived in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, 14 so that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: (Isaiah 9:1-2) Matt 4:13-14 (ESV)
Since recently visiting Israel my scripture reading now includes better insights of how and where they lived and ministered. Peter’s house was right across the road from the synagogue!
And immediately he left the synagogue and entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. 30 Now Simon’s mother-in-law lay ill with a fever, and immediately they told him about her. 31 And he came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and the fever left her, and she began to serve them. 32 That evening at sundown they brought to him all who were sick or oppressed by demons. 33 And the whole city was gathered together at the door. Mark 1:29-33
Today this spot is surrounded first by an octagonal wall that was a 4th century church marking the historicity of the place and today a modern Catholic church hovers over the excavated area with a window in the floor for all to see the room where Jesus may have preached.
In this one town we read about people from many different walks of life coming to see Jesus. Unlikely people who would not have otherwise spoken to each other came in droves for healing and to hear the teaching from this incredible man of God. These stories of faith are filled with healing and restoration. There were no hospitals. The sick and lame were a burden to their families if they could not work. They were forbidden to enter the synagogue because they were “unclean”. Life changing miracles of restoration include not just body and mind but of life and purpose. Yet despite witnessing the power of God, Jesus later admonishes this town too for their unbelief.
Peter’s mother-in-law helped host many people in their home while Jesus was in town preaching. How often did she help serve the hungry band of disciples? One time the house was so packed four friends cut a hole through the roof to get their paralyzed friend to Jesus. Maybe they were out working together and he fell down the steep hillside…a terrible accident…would Jesus restore their friend?
A Roman centurion would have had total disgust for the Jews in general. But one understood Jesus’ power and authority and he humbled himself to ask for healing for his beloved servant. Jarius was synagogue leader that asked Jesus to heal his little girl while at the same time a woman, suffering from a bleeding disorder for twelve years, reaches to touch His robe and is instantly healed.
REAL PEOPLE. REAL STORIES. REAL LIFE SITUATIONS.
The world has vastly changed in building, knowledge, technology and travel; but people have not changed! That is one reason why the Bible is so relevant for today. We too have family, friends, government, work and worship.
Jesus also did many other things. If they were all written down, I suppose the whole world could not contain the books that would be written. John 21:25 (NLT)
My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life. John 10:10
I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
God stepped out of glory in the form of Jesus to live and share real life with mankind; all of it – the joys, fellowship, sadness and hurt. He understands. Come to Him in the middle of your mess or in your greatest joys… then share your story so all can hear of His love and life changing power.
Ariel view of Capernaum today