In elementary school, you basically had assigned seating at lunch. The guys sat together with other guys from their class. Sometimes, we even ate in the classroom at our desks. We had to wait for recess to hang out with our friends who had a different homeroom.
Middle school, and especially high school, was a whole different story. You got to choose where you would sit. It may not be an easy choice. It could define you. There was the table where the “queen bee and wannabes” posed (this may be the cheerleader section, too). Close by them was the “jock” table. They were loud and maybe obnoxious. Be careful; food may come from that area through the air. Across the room, in a quiet tone, were the “nerds.” The table had more books on it than lunch boxes or trays. By the door, so they could sneak out for a smoke, were the “rockers” or “burnouts.” In another corner were the “freaks” (self-appointed label). They liked to be different (hair color, black clothes, piercing, and ink). Although they are different from the norm, they are all alike in how they choose to be different. The preppies, choir, and band kids filled the center area. Of course, there are those few who are just lost.
Maybe I am overthinking this. Today, you just sit with everyone and play with your phone. You can even text someone sitting across the table from you.
1. What did your school lunchroom look like?
2. Where did you sit?
We have already discussed how Jesus was from Bethlehem, Egypt, and Nazareth. One thing those all have in common is that they are places where His parents took Him. Capernaum was the only place He chose to live.
Jesus chose to live in Capernaum.
After being tempted by the devil (Luke 4:1-13), Jesus went back to Nazareth. Verse 16 says, “And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read.” Those could have been such exciting times for the people; however, that was not their response, “When they heard these things, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath. And they rose up and drove him out of the town and brought him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they could throw him down the cliff” (verses 28-29). Jesus brought the truth, and they tried to kill Him.
In the midst of His message, Jesus said, “And he said, ‘Truly, I say to you, no prophet is acceptable in his hometown’” (verse 24). Jesus refers to Nazareth as His hometown, but it is time to leave. Matthew 4:13 says, “And leaving Nazareth he went and lived in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali.” As Jesus was starting His public ministry, He chose Capernaum.
3. Have you experienced the phrase, “no prophet is acceptable in his hometown?”
4. Some say they would have believed in Jesus if they saw Him firsthand. How does this contradict that thought?
Some feel it would have been easier to be a Christian while Jesus was on Earth. However, Jesus chose to limit Himself to being in one place at a time. When He left, He sent the Holy Spirit to be in us and with us at all times.
Jesus living in Capernaum fulfilled prophecy.
The move from Nazareth, overlooking the valley of Armageddon, to Capernaum, on the Sea of Galilee, happened at the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry. He chose to live and minister in Capernaum. The site is located at the north corner of the Sea of Galilee. It had a larger community as the water brought more opportunities for commerce.
However, there is more to the story. Jesus’ move to Capernaum fulfilled prophecy. Hundreds of years before Jesus was born, Isaiah wrote, “But there will be no gloom for her who was in anguish. In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time he has made glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations. The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone”(Isaiah 9:1-2).
Isaiah prophesied that “a great light” would come to the land that Zebulun and Naphtali occupied. That area is Capernaum, and we know who that Great Light is.
The prophecy may seem vague to us, but Matthew could see it clearly, “And leaving Nazareth he went and lived in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, so that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: ‘The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles— 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’” (Matthew 4:13-16). Matthew literally quotes Isaiah.
Jesus is the “great light:”
“The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.” John 1:9
“Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’” John 8:12
“I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness.” John 12:46
5. How is light a good picture of Jesus?
Matthew 5:14-16 challenges us, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”
6. What does it mean for us to be a light?
Jesus began His public ministry in Capernaum.
As Jesus began His work in Capernaum, He chose His disciples. Capernaum is the home town of the apostles Peter, James, Andrew, John, and the tax collector Matthew. The calling of Matthew (Levi) is recorded in three places:
“As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, ‘Follow me.’ And he rose and followed him.” Matthew 9:9
“He went out again beside the sea, and all the crowd was coming to him, and he was teaching them. And as he passed by, he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, ‘Follow me.’ And he rose and followed him.” Mark 2:13-14
“After this he went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax booth. And he said to him, ‘Follow me.’ And leaving everything, he rose and followed him.” Luke 5:27-28
7. What stands out to you in these passages? (See also Mark 1:16-20)
In Capernaum, Jesus healed many.
Jesus healed Peter’s mother-in-law. Mark 1:29-34 says, “And immediately he left the synagogue and entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now Simon’s mother-in-law lay ill with a fever, and immediately they told him about her. And he came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and the fever left her, and she began to serve them. That evening at sundown they brought to him all who were sick or oppressed by demons. And the whole city was gathered together at the door. And he healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons. And he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him.”
8. How did Peter’s mother-in-law respond to Jesus?
9. Who else does this passage say Jesus healed?
Apparently, Peter was married. That must have brought some challenges. However, church tradition lets us know that she remained faithful and was martyred right before Peter was crucified upside down.
In Matthew 8:2-4, we read about Jesus healing a leper, “And behold, a leper came to him and knelt before him, saying, ‘Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.’ And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, ‘I will; be clean.’ And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. And Jesus said to him, ‘See that you say nothing to anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a proof to them.’”
10. What does this say about the Leper’s faith?
11. Why do you think Jesus touched him?
In Mark 2:1-12, we read about Jesus healing a paralytic, “And when he returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. And many were gathered together, so that there was no more room, not even at the door. And he was preaching the word to them. And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him, and when they had made an opening, they let down the bed on which the paralytic lay. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven.’ Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, ‘Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?’ And immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves, said to them, ‘Why do you question these things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk?’ But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins’—he said to the paralytic— ‘I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.’ And he rose and immediately picked up his bed and went out before them all, so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, ‘We never saw anything like this!’”
12. Who all shows great faith in this passage?
13. Why was the crowd present? Did they already believe Jesus was the Christ?
Jesus cursed Capernaum.
Jesus chose to live in Capernaum; He fulfilled prophecy and brought light to an area of darkness through His words and actions. However, the people of Capernaum still did not receive Him.
Capernaum is one of the three cities cursed by Jesus for its lack of faith. Matthew 11:23-24 says, “And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You will be brought down to Hades. For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I tell you that it will be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom than for you.”
15. What is Sodom?
16. How harsh is the curse?
Jesus did a lot in Capernaum, and He expected them to respond appropriately. Luke 12:48 reminds us, “But the one who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, will receive a light beating. Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.”
17. How does this apply to us? Be specific.
“Veiled in flesh, the Godhead see;
hail the incarnate Deity.
Pleased as man with men to dwell,
Jesus, our Emmanuel.”
“The Son of God became man
to enable men to become the sons of God.”
C. S. Lewis