“And when he returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home”. (Mark 2:1)
Sitting on the North-West shore of the Sea of Galilee is the fishing village of Capernaum. It may have been small in comparison of Magdala, its larger neighbour, but it was an important town occupying a strategic spot on the road to Damascus. Less popularly, it was also a place where the Romans collected their taxes and recent excavations have unearthed a Roman milestone. The empire was well and truly present in this small place, and a ruling official had his residence there.
After his rejection at Nazareth, Jesus made Capernaum his base and it is referred to as his “own city” (Matthew 9;1). It was here that he called Matthew (a tax-collector), and here Jesus also paid his temple tax. In this fishing village, Jesus called four fishermen - Peter, Andrew, James, and John - to be his disciples and he taught in the local synagogue (Luke 7:4-5). The foundations of this synagogue can still be seen, and stands as a testament to friendly relations between the Romans and the Jews in the area. It was built by a Roman Centurion.
The village saw Jesus teach and also work many miracles. It was here that Jairus’ daughter was healed, as was Peter’s mother-in-law. A paralysed man was let down through the roof of a house in Capernaum, and walked out a healed man. In such a small place all this, along with other miracles, surely would have set tongues wagging away but ultimately they too rejected Jesus.
In the end it is not impressive words, or the working of miracles, which turn a person to Christ but rather a work of the Holy Spirit in the heart. Whilst at Capernaum Jesus commented: “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him”. The rejection of Jesus by a place which had seen so much of his ministry serves to prove his point