Capernaum

At the beginning of His ministry, Jesus moved His base of operations from the sleepy town of Nazareth to bustling Capernaum by the Sea of Galilee, “fulfill[ing] what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet” (Matthew 4:14).

A thriving fishing village, Capernaum strad-dled the international highway that stretched from Syria to Egypt. By choosing Capernaum, Jesus selected a city that enjoyed a constant flow of people who could carry His message to many places. And that’s exactly what happened (see Matthew 4:24–25).

Matthew also refers to Capernaum as Jesus’s “own city” (Matthew 9:1). More of His miracles were performed here than in any other city, and yet the people did not believe. Their doubt escalated to the point that when Jesus healed people in Capernaum, the religious leaders attributed His miracles to Satan (Matthew 12:2–29). Until then, Jesus had offered His message of salvation to Israel. But upon their rejection of His offer, Jesus shifted the focus of His ministry from preparing the nation for the kingdom to preparing the disciples for the church.¹

  • As a border town between the tetrarchies of Herod Antipas and Herod Philip, Capernaum housed a portion of the occupying Roman army.
  • Jesus called fishermen Peter, Andrew, James, and John to be apostles from the shores of the Sea of Galilee near Capernaum (Matthew 4:18–22; Mark 1:16–21).
  • Here, Jesus called Matthew, a tax collector, to be an apostle (Matthew 9:9–13).
  • While in Capernaum, Jesus healed the centurion’s servant (Matthew 8:5–13), a paralytic (Mark 2:1–13), Jairus’s daughter (Mark 5:22–24, 35–43), and a nobleman’s son (John 4:46–54).
  • Jesus healed Peter’s mother-in-law in Capernaum (Matthew 8:14–15; Luke 4:38–39).
  1. Adapted from Wayne Stiles, Going Places with God: A Devotional Journey through the Lands of the Bible (Ventura, Calif.: Regal, 2006). Used by permission.