Capernaum – To Walk Where Jesus Walked

Capernaum –                                                     To Walk Where Jesus Walked

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 IMG_2003and 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

IMG_2012Today 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?Magdala

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    CapernaumAerialView

To Walk Where Jesus Walked-Bethsaida

To Walk Where Jesus Walked-Bethsaida

For me as Christian, visiting the Holy Land was a “bucket list” wish – to walk where Jesus walked. I wanted to see the places I had heard about in Sunday school as a child and read about over many years. Somehow the reality of the topography, richness of the culture and land had been lost on me all these years. Over this summer I will be sharing a six-part series on several of the places that came alive, “off the page” so to speak, during my recent trip.

Bethsaida is part of what is called the “Evangelical Triangle” with Capernaum and Chorazin. Jesus warned the cities of their unrepentant hearts because He did most of His miracles in this area north of the Sea of Galilee. (see Matt.11:20-24)  It was a fishing village and home to the apostles Philip, Andrew and Peter.

bethsaida_map

Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand

10 On their return the apostles told him all that they had done. And he took them and withdrew apart to a town called Bethsaida. 11 When the crowds learned it, they followed him, and he welcomed them and spoke to them of the kingdom of God and cured those who had need of healing. 12 Now the day began to wear away, and the twelve came and said to him, “Send the crowd away to go into the surrounding villages and countryside to find lodging and get provisions, for we are here in a desolate place.”Plain-of-Bethsaida-13 But he said to them, “You give them something to eat.” They said, “We have no more than five loaves and two fish—unless we are to go and buy food for all these people.” 14 For there were about five thousand men. And he said to his disciples, “Have them sit down in groups of about fifty each.” 15 And they did so, and had them all sit down. 16 And taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and said a blessing over them. Then he broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd. 17 And they all ate and were satisfied. And what was left over was picked up, twelve baskets of broken pieces.           Luke 9:10-17 (ESV)

The Sea of Galilee lies in the depression of the Jordan Valley – approximately 686 feet below sea level. This explains a lot of the terminology of “going up” and “going down”. Many times Jesus would have stood down the mountainside preaching upwards, as the landscape made a natural amphitheater.

Jesus Heals a Blind Man at Bethsaida

22 And they came to Bethsaida. And some people brought to him a blind man and begged him to touch him. 23 And he took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village, and when he had spit on his eyes and laid his hands on him, he asked him, “Do you see anything?” 24 And he looked up and said, “I see men, but they look like trees, walking.” 25 Then Jesus laid his hands on his eyes again; and he opened his eyes, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly.    Mark 8:22-25 (ESV)

BethSaida3sroadStanding on actual stones that Jesus would have stepped on whisked me back in time. The road was not wide between houses and other buildings. If people laid their loved ones in the road, Jesus could not pass by without stepping on them! Instead, He lovingly bent down and healed each one.

The people of the village of Bethsaida had witnessed many miracles. They were fed from a boy’s tiny lunch. They witnessed the healing of a blind man and many others yet their hearts were cold. They wanted full stomachs and to listen to stories and watch the show – reaping all the benefits yet not accepting The Giver.

How about you my reader? What blessings has God given you that you take for granted? Have you witnessed the healing of people you prayed for and yet you have lost the awesomeness of God? Are we truly grateful for our daily bread and all of the creature comforts we enjoy?  Stop whatever you are doing and do so today.