Capernaum, A Stop On The Via Maris

Aerial of Capernaum Synagogue (Courtesy of Bible Lands Pictorial Library)

Capernaum By the Sea

In existence from the 150 B.C. to 750. A.D., Capernaum lies along the western shore of the Sea of Galilee about 3 miles from where the upper Jordan River, fed by the snow pack on Mount Hermon, empties into the lake. Situated on the Via Maris, an ancient trade route also known as The Way Of The Sea, and home to approximately 1500 people during the time of Christ, it was a center of trade and commerce, with many residents engaged in the town’s major industry, fishing.

Capernaum Synagogue and Village Homes (Courtesy of Bible Lands Pictorial Library)

Home and Hub

Jesus made Capernaum His home and headquarters during His three year ministry. The village is mentioned repeatedly in the Gospels as His dwelling place and ministry hub after He abandoned Nazareth. “Leaving Nazareth He went and lived in Capernaum.” [Matthew 4: 13]  After preaching in the countryside along the Galilean shores, He would return to Capernaum, apparently as a guest of the disciple Peter and his wife.  Presumably Peter’s mother-in-law also resided there as we read in Mark’s Gospel that Jesus cured her of a fever.

Aerial of Capernaum by the Sea Of Galilee (Courtesy of Bible Lands Pictorial Library)

Disciples From Capernaum

The Gospels record many events in and around Capernaum. From this small fishing village, Jesus called His first four disciples, Peter, Andrew and the two sons of Zebedee, James and John.  Later, still at Capernaum, He chose the publican and Gospel writer Matthew, also known as Levi, as a disciple.  Matthew worked at the Roman customs house in Capernaum, performing such duties as collecting tolls and levies from merchants traveling through on the Via Maris and taxing the fisherman who worked the Sea of Galilee.

Capernaum Synagogue (Courtesy of Bible Lands Pictorial Library)

A Village and Centurion Devoted to God

Excavated ruins of the Capernaum synagogue not only reveal a village devoted to God, but also a Roman presence, including troops being garrisoned there. Additionally, the excavations confirm Luke’s account, found in chapter 7 of his Gospel, of Christ healing the Roman Centurion’s servant.  This faithful military officer, stationed in Capernaum,  is credited by the Jews for building the synagogue we  stand in on Holy Land trips.  The walls from this first synagogue, visible today, were preserved up to 3 feet high  and  used as the foundation for a later Byzantine synagogue.

Basalt (Black) Stone Wall from 1st Century Capernaum Synagogue (Courtesy of Bible Lands Pictorial Library)

No Question Jesus Was Here

While the dating of the synagogue in Capernaum continues to be debated, that Jesus walked, taught and lived here is not questioned at all.   In John 6: 30 – 59 we read that Jesus’ sermon revealing that He was the Bread of Life was delivered at the Capernaum synagogue, “He said these things while teaching in the synagogue at Capernaum.” [John 6: 59] He was confronted by a demoniac while teaching in this synagogue, for the demons knew exactly who He was, even if the Jews didn’t! [Luke 4: 31-36]

Excavated Capernaum Homes and Walls (Courtesy of Bible Lands Pictorial Library)

Capernaum Miracles

Jesus was well-known in the region. It was in Capernaum that He healed the paralyzed man lowered through a home’s roof by friends, raised a Roman centurion’s daughter who had died, cured a woman who touched Him and restored the sight of two blind men who were following Him.  The common attributes of these believers is faith, humility and action.  The father comes to Jesus and kneels before Him, the woman quietly reaches out to touch His hem, the two blind men followed him, calling out “Have mercy on us, Son of David,” and the friends lower the ill man knowing that his hope lies in Jesus Christ.

Capernaum Faith

Faith is not simply working up a feeling or suppressing doubts but a demonstrated commitment to follow and trust the One in whom we believe. Consider the two blind men healed at Capernaum, they followed Jesus calling out to Him, they didn’t sit somewhere waiting for Him to come to them.  They could have, after all they were blind.

Grow Closer To Christ in Capernaum

Don’t stand on the sidelines waiting for Jesus to come to you, be determined to get close to Him, study His word, fellowship with other believers, trust and follow Him. Consider the blessings of Christian travel, fellowshipping with other believers in the very places where Jesus ministered, praising and worshiping Him where He worshiped and taught.  Experience all these blessings; join us on a faith-based tour and immerse yourself in His Word while standing in Capernaum, His home and ministry headquarters.

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