“Now when Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, He departed to Galilee. And leaving Nazareth, He came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is by the sea, in the regions of Zebulum and Naphtali, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying:
‘The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, by the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles: The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and upon those who sat in the region and shadow of death Light has dawned’ “Matthew 4:12-23 NKJV
Every day I am excited about the upcoming journey and filled with anticipation. This is especially true around Galilee where Jesus and His disciples spent so much of their time. Today was no exception. Eric, my son, always gets up early to find coffee, call his family, and walk, explore or talk to people. It takes me longer to get it together in the morning, but I do make it down in time to partake of the wonderful breakfast buffet and onto the outdoor patio overlooking the beautiful Sea of Galilee. Each morning it seems I’m sitting with a different party from our group, often those traveling on a different bus. It was so wonderful meeting other believers who are on this journey with us.
Every day of our journey we have visited multiple sites and this day was no exception. I’ve been sharing them as separate adventures in an effort to keep them short. However, there is so much to share about each and I’ve not always accomplished the short goal I know. One of the stops today was Capernaum -called Jesus headquarters. Who wouldn’t be excited about that stop!
Capernaum is located at the north corner of the Sea of Galilee and really not very far from our hotel. Just around the lake a bit. This is the town where Jesus began His ministry and where He spent most of His time during His earthly ministry. WOW! Besides calling this Jesus’s headquarters others just call it Jesus’s town. Why Capernaum? The name means village of Nahum (and Nahum means comforter – so Village of the Comforter. A perfect name for someplace Jesus would call home. Isaiah predicted that the Messiah would come here 700 years before it happened. Not by the city name but he gave 4 indications of where it would be. Mathew refers to Isaiah and specifically, he is referring to Isaiah 9:1 -both verses quoted at the beginning of this piece.
Again, why here? Besides the name, this wasn’t too far from His hometown of Nazareth, which could be another one of the reasons. Perhaps again, because this is where His disciples lived. Fisherman Peter, Andrew, John and James lived here as did the tax collector, Matthew all of whom became Jesus’s disciples’.
“As Jesus passed on from there, He saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax office. And He said to him, “Follow Me.” So he arose and followed Him. Mathew 9:9
Finally, why Capernaum? Because Jesus is God and He came not to abolish the old testament, nor the law, but to fulfill it.
“And they went into Capernaum, and straightway on the Sabbath day He entered into the synagogue, and taught” Mark 1:21
This synagogue logically would have been the one He frequented most often because He lived there. Unfortunately, there are only partial remains of the original synagogue where Jesus taught. A larger Roman synagogue was built on top of the original. This one also now in ruins, with the exception of the foundation and columns (see pictures). We stood among the ruins on that hot day, trying to imagine what it would have looked like during that time. The newer ruins were constructed of white limestone. The older local black basalt so you could tell the difference.
The overall ruins of the village consisted of about 1/3 of the town that would have existed back then. It is estimated that there would have been about 1500 people living there. Surrounding the synagogue, you could see more of the black basalt stones, remnants of what were once homes and perhaps businesses where real people worked and lived just like us albeit more rustically.
The really cool part of this site is that we saw Peter’s house! It was built in a circle and we were able to walk up to the perimeter, touch the rocks, peek inside. The Greek Orthodox constructed a church on the rock- like stilts above the house to protect the site. It’s not like there is so much to see inside the house and really you have to use your imagination of where they would have slept or eaten or just hung out together. But come on, it is PETER’s house where Jesus and the other disciples spent a lot of time and it was here Jesus healed Peter’s mother-in-law. Awesome! (refer to Luke 4:38-40)
There were many very “religious” Jews living in Capernaum. In fact, we’re told they were shackled with religion to the point they couldn’t see the truth that was living with them. So sad! ½ of the recorded miracles and works were done in this town and nearby area. Jesus didn’t turn one person away who needed healing. Crowds followed Him hoping to be healed or witness a miracle. But Jesus wasn’t there to heal temporarily –we all die, 100% of us. Rather, Jesus came to heal us forever! He came to show that He had the authority over life and death. He is the comforter and healer IF you CHOOSE to allow Him to be. Tragically people in His own town chose the temporary healing or wanted to see the healing like a circus show. They rejected the Healer and the eternal healing just as those in Nazareth had done. The people that actually followed Jesus as Lord, were from the other side of the Sea from the Decapolis area. This is the saddest thing ever! To be living with Jesus -right in front of your face and miss the healing that allows you to live in Heaven FOREVER and to live a new, better life here on this earth for the time we have left. It is also why Jesus consigned both Capernaum and Nazareth to one of the deeper regions of hell for rejecting Him when they had the most exposure to the truth. He came to open the eyes of the blind to see eternity. Sadly, most in Capernaum chose to see only the earthly.
“And you, Capernaum, who are exalted to heaven, will be brought down to Hades “Luke 10:15
This week, I saw a documentary film that Pastor Greg Laurie had made on the Life of Steve McQueen. Steve McQueen was a famous and very successful actor, but he had a horrible, abusive childhood. He lived most of his life angry and bitter. Whether he was poor, homeless and running the streets or living the life of the rich and famous, he was not fulfilled and the demons from his youth were with him. That is until he met Jesus. He then saw THE Light. His blinded eyes were opened by the truth of love and grace. He finally found peace. He contracted cancer soon afterward and died at the young age of 50. He said his one regret was that he wasn’t able to tell everyone about how Jesus had transformed and healed his broken soul. 25+ years later, Greg Laurie, who also had a heartbreaking childhood, heard Steve’s story, and it resonated with him. Greg felt compelled to make this documentary allowing Steve’s regret to be fulfilled so many years later. God has a plan and has a miraculous way of fulfilling His purpose
Both Steve and Greg’s eyes were opened to eternity. Steve is now in heaven totally healed, Greg still here on earth leading I don’t know how many thousands to true healing including my own pastor, Jack Hibbs.
How about you? I pray you too will accept healing of the soul that has eternal rewards.
Debbie lives in Southern California with her husband Doug and her children and grandchildren.
The people who walk in darkness
Will see a great light;
Those who live in a dark land,
The light will shine on them.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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