Before I went to Israel, Capernaum was merely a word on a page. A man leading another tour who is a professor and even writes articles for a major Christian publication said something interesting to me. He said, “You learn so much, before I came here Capernaum was just a word on a page.”
That statement resonated deep with in my soul as I stood there in the Capernaum archeological dig. One of the main changes in how I read the Gospels now is when it says Jesus was in such and such a city and then they went to this other one, some of our tour did just that. We were at Cana of Galilee and got on the bus and went to Capernaum . It took about 15 minutes therefore I know about what the walk was. Most of our minds get lazy over things like places and geneology unless we have some kind of reference for it. Capernaum was truly one of my favorite places on the trip. We had limited time, but I just wanted to stay there all day. I hope to one day go back and see it again.
The wedding at Cana in John 2 may have had several hundred people there. See also https://chaplapreneur.wordpress.com/2019/06/19/god-saves-the-party-at-cana-israel-trip/ . Many people were drinking and it seemed that their wasn’t a huge understanding that Jesus had performed this miracle. The servants knew. His mother knew. His disciples knew and possibly His brothers. But, that private revelation in public was quite a momentum boast for them all, I am sure.
So, His brothers (Yes, I realize the Greek word for brothers could be a cousin or a close relative), mother, disciples are all walking 16 miles with Jesus from Cana of Galilee to Capernaum (John 2:12). He may have begun to act as a Rabbi. He may be telling stories along the way. He carried a presence about Him that was amazing. When He taught the Sermon on the Mount the first thing said about Him when it is done is He taught as one who had authority and not like their normal teachers (Matthew 7:28-29). His brothers still wrestled with believing in Him, the disciples don’t know what is going on and here we have Jesus who is working the ground, beginning to walk and teach. This 16 mile walk was probably startling, comforting, disturbing and joyful all at the same time. This 16 mile walk was something different and because when our eyes just gloss over towns and distances we miss out on the story.
Notice, where they were going. They were going to Peter’s hometown. Now the Bible does mention Bethsaida which is about six miles away as Peter and Andrew’s home town (John 1:44). What that probably means is like Jesus was called, “Jesus of Nazareth,” Peter and Andrew were of Bethsaida. It was a town close by where they were probably born and raised and originally from. Bethsaida is inland, while the beautiful location of Capernaum is right on the Sea of Galilee. It would have been the perfect place for fisherman to live and work.
Often times we expect Christian leaders or people seeking to follow the call of God to make extreme sacrifices. It is a biblical idea, to be the greatest of all, you must be a servant of all. Jesus said it Himself (Mark 10:42-45). However, as I stood in the remains of this Biblical city and I saw the view of the Sea of Galilee, I couldn’t help but wonder did Jesus hand pick this location because of it’s beauty and aura? It was magnificent and it is no longer just a word on a page. I think Jesus seemed to go where The Father directed His steps (John 5:19-20). Part of that had to do with who was seeking after Him (Matthew 7:7). He also preached in the cities where the disciples were from, in other words He used his relationships with them as leverage in their own towns (Matthew 11:1). Jesus saw an open door with Peter, Andrew and James and John who were all hanging out here in Capernaum. We know Peter, James and John had a fishing business together. His relationship with them was intricate for how we understand the Gospel story and Christ’s revelation to us.
Oddly enough, Peter, James and John became his inner three and their are times where Andrew is mentioned with them (Mark 13:3-4). There are also stories like the Transfiguration where for whatever reason, Andrew wasn’t with them. I stood there too, I think the hill was too high and other nine disciples stayed back, while the inner three knew this is when the good stuff happened.
Back to Capernaum, Jesus set up his ministry here and this seemed to be a home base and maybe even a home for a time. We have to then ask the question, What if He would have set up shop in another city? Would we then be talking about different disciples who became His apostles? Would their be different stories? Would they have had different professions?
Mark, Luke and John are written in a way that the events would have happened chronologically so you can follow Jesus and where He walked. In John we see that Jesus is at Cana in Galilee at the wedding. After which, He, His mother, brothers and disciples walked over to Capernaum. We got on the bus on our tour and rode about 15 minutes. For Jesus to walk there with a group of people, it was about a 16 mile walk.
Now Matthew doesn’t necessarily write in chronological order in the same way as the other three Gospel writters, but he gives us something special in regards to this important city. Until I went to Capernaum my eyes glossed over this.
But, obviously since it was written about 700 years before (Isaiah 9:1-2), Jesus was going to Capernaum and I believe Peter, James, John and Andrew were all prepared for such a time as this. Matthew quotes Isaiah in his explanation.
12 Now when he heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew into Galilee. 13 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:
15 “The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali,
the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles—
16 the people dwelling in darkness
have seen a great light,
and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death,
on them a light has dawned.”
17 From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand (Matthew 4:12-17) (See Also Isaiah 9 especially verses 1-2)”[a]
They did see a great light. Peter’s mother-in-law was healed. A man was lowered through a roof by his friends for healing. The city also fell under great judgment at the words of Christ. There is so much more to talk about with Capernaum, that is enough for now. But, just know for me, Capernaum is no longer just a word on a page. Capernaum is the place that saw a great light, like Isaiah and Matthew mentioned. We will also learn that they fell under judgment at the words of Christ and what has been discovered to back that up. Stick with us as this site will teach us so much more.
The picture below is a picture of Peter’s house. It is closer to the Sea than most of the other homes dug up.
See Also Other Posts Israel Trip
Crazy Cousin John Part 2: https://chaplapreneur.wordpress.com/2019/07/11/crazy-cousin-john-part-2-israel-trip/
The Miracle of the Dead Sea Scrolls: https://chaplapreneur.wordpress.com/2019/07/22/the-miracle-of-the-dead-sea-scrolls/