Our virtual hike through Galilee has reached the ruins of Capernaum, the home base for Jesus’ ministry (Matthew 4:13). Capernaum was an ancient fishing village on the north shore of the Sea of Galilee in northeastern Israel.
Capernaum was one of the most prominent towns of Jesus’ life. It is mentioned 16 times in the Gospels and was the site for much of His teaching and many of His miracles. Matthew calls Capernaum Jesus’ “own city.” (Matthew 9:1; Mark 2:1)
Miracles at Capernaum
Jesus performed some of His most striking miracles around Capernaum. He performed so many great works there, that He said if Sodom had seen the Capernaum miracles, it would not have been destroyed [because the people would be so moved to repentance and faith] (Matthew 11:23-24).
Jesus taught with authority in the Capernaum synagogue with the result that His listeners were amazed at His teaching (Mark 1:21-22). It was in Capernaum that Jesus healed many who were ill with various diseases, and cast out many demons from those who were demon-possessed (Mark 1:32-34). Other well-known miracles at Capernaum include healing both Peter’s mother-in-law (Matthew 8:14-15; Mark 1:29-31) and healing the paralytic let down through the roof (Mark 2:1-12).
From Capernaum Jesus healed the centurion’s servant without even seeing him (Matthew 8:5-13; Luke 7:1-10). It was from Capernaum, after healing Peter’s mother-in-law, that Jesus left by sea to escape the crowds and stilled the storm on the Sea of Galilee (Matthew 8:14-27).
– Expelling a Demon (Mark 1:21-28; Luke 4:31-37)
Jesus taught with authority in the Capernaum synagogue, so much so that the people were amazed. It is one thing to speak in an authoritative manner as Jesus did. It is quite another to powerfully demonstrate authority over nature and the unseen spirit world.
The demon in the synagogue recognized Jesus as the “Holy One of God.” He recognized the sinless One sent by God the Father to redeem mankind from sin and from the power of the Devil. Jesus backed up the authority of His teaching by commanding the unclean demon to shut up and scram. Compelled to obey commands from the Lord of the Universe, the demon convulsed the man with a shriek and left.
This demonstration of Christ’s authority stupefied the witnesses with astonishment. A hubbub arose as they chattered among themselves, arguing over what they had seen. Jesus had backed up the force of His teaching with a convincing demonstration of His power.
The message is clear: One who commands devils’ obedience has earned a respectful hearing and worshipful obedience for His teaching. “He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey Him.” (Mark 1:27)
The witnesses’ reaction shows how deeply the miracle moved them, so much so that after the initial amazement and hubbub of questions, the news spread like wildfire throughout Galilee. As a result, later that evening the whole city of Capernaum gathered at the door of Peter’s house bringing many sick and demon-possessed whom Jesus healed. (Mark 1:32-34)
This account of casting out a demon in the Capernaum synagogue is remarkable for being the only incident in common between Mark and Luke that does not appear in Matthew.
Today it is common to dismiss the demon possessions reported in the New Testament as simply psychological maladjustments. Such a judgment won’t pass the muster of a close inspection of this miracle.
Notice that Jesus conversed with and issued orders to an active being other than the afflicted man. This was not a disease or insanity that Jesus spoke to, but another being who resisted and argued with Him. One does not talk to a disease or derangement. No sickness or mental instability would enable a man to recognize Jesus as the Holy One of God.
The Gospel records deserve respect as the Word of God. They explicitly report that these cases were not diseases but people inhabited by evil spirits.
Mark says, “There was a man in their synagogue with an unclean spirit.” (Mark 1:23)
Luke says, “In the synagogue there was a man possessed by the spirit of an unclean demon.” (Luke 4:33)
Even though we may not fully understand demon possession, this is what Scripture clearly reports. It is incumbent upon believers to accept the Biblical report.
Subsequent blog posts will discuss more miracles at Capernaum.
Soli Deo Gloria.
The Hike the Bible series is currently covering points of interest along two hiking trails through Galilee, the 40-mile Jesus Trail and the 39-mile Gospel Trail. These two trails re-create possible routes Jesus likely traversed during His sojourns in Galilee.
This is the twenty-fourth installment in the Hike the Bible series reviewing major hiking trails in the Lands of the Bible.
Read the prequels:
1. Hike the Bible – Jesus Trail (with video)
2. Hike the Bible – Gospel Trail (with video)
3. Hike the Bible – Jesus Trail vs. Gospel Trail
4. Hike the Bible – Nazareth
5. Hike the Bible – Zippori
6. Hike the Bible – Mash’had
7. Hike the Bible – Cana (with video)
8. Hike the Bible – Roman Road
9. Hike the Bible – Via Maris
10. Hike the Bible – Horns of Hattin
11. Hike the Bible – Sermon on the Mount
12. Hike the Bible – Arbel Cliffs
13. Hike the Bible – Magdala (with video)
14. Hike the Bible – Mary Magdalene
15. Hike the Bible – Mary Magdalene, Lady or Tramp?
16. Hike the Bible – Mary Magdalene & the Resurrection
17. Hike the Bible – Sea of Galilee
18. Hike the Bible – Jesus at the Sea of Galilee
19. Hike the Bible – Jesus at the Sea of Galilee 2
20. Hike the Bible – Jesus at the Sea of Galilee 3
21. Hike the Bible – Jesus Boat
22. Hike the Bible – Why Capernaum?
23. Hike the Bible – Capernaum Archaeology
Read the sequel:
25. Hike the Bible – Miracles at Capernaum 2
©William T. Pelletier, Ph.D.
“contending earnestly for the faith” (Jude 1:3)
Wednesday November 28, 2012 A.D.
Jesus was going throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people. (Matthew 4:23)