Jesus: to His New Home, Nazareth to Capernaum
Luke 4:31-44 – August 29, 2021
4:31 – 31 Then he went down to Capernaum, a town in Galilee, and on the Sabbath he taught the people.
People who have hiked from Nazareth to Capernaum find it to be about 40 miles of walking.
I would like to take a side trip now and talk about the map of that trail.
Just outside Nazareth and to the South we can see Mount Precipice (a modern name) but if we go back to verse 29 this is where they likely intended to push Jesus off a cliff and then stone him to death.
Due North of Nazareth is Zippori called the ornament of all Galilee by Josephus as it provided a birds eye view of Galilee and it was halfway between the Mediterranean Sea and the Sea of Galilee. It was also the administrative capital of Galilee in the 1st century.
Then there is Cana where Jesus performed his first miracle at a wedding as noted in John 2:1-11.
Much further up the trail we come to Migdal the home city of Mary Magdalen.
-*Almost to Capernaum we are at Tabgha aka seven springs (six have been located) and one is known as Job’s spring and large enough to swim in.
Between Tabgha and Capernaum is Mount of Beatitudes, the traditional site of the Sermon on the Mount from Matthew 5-7 which contains the Beatitudes.
And finally, we are at Capernaum.
Capernaum was a town located on the northwest shore of the Sea of Galilee, 680 ft (204 m) below sea level.
It existed since Hasmonean times and was a major trade and economic center in the North Galilean region.
The population in the first century is estimated to be around 1,500.
Capernaum became the hub of operations for Jesus’ Galilean ministry.
The site was discovered in 1838 by the American explorer E. Robinson, and major excavations began in 1905 by German archaeologists H. Kohl and C. Watzinger.
In 1968 remains from the time of Jesus visible; in that year a series of annual archaeological campaigns that lasted until 1985.
This work uncovered what is thought to be the house of Simon Peter as well as ruins of the first century synagogue beneath the later synagogue from the fourth or fifth century A.D.
Today gently rolling hills and date palms frame the first century site, a favorite tourist destination of visitors to the Galilee.
4:31-32 – 31 Then he went down to Capernaum, a town in Galilee, and on the Sabbath he taught the people. 32 They were amazed at his teaching, because his words had authority.
Historical records show it was typical to cite a list of authorities to make one’s point.
4:33-34 – 33 In the synagogue there was a man possessed by a demon, an impure spirit. He cried out at the top of his voice, 34 “Go away! What do you want with us, [Leave us alone] Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!”
The NIV says the man was possessed by a demon, an impure spirit, others might say an unclean, demonic spirit. Either way it is redundant as all possessions were impure or unclean by definition and evil. Often Luke simply writes of an unclean spirit to describe demonic possession.
4:35-37 – 35 Be quiet!” Jesus said sternly. “Come out of him!” Then the demon threw the man down before them all and came out without injuring him. 36 All the people were amazed and said to each other, “What words these are! With authority and power he gives orders to impure spirits and they come out!” 37 And the news about him spread throughout the surrounding area.
I like the translations that begin v35 with Jesus ordered or Jesus commanded the spirit as they show the authority of Jesus’ words which is shown in His next command Come out of him! There was no argument, no discussion between Jesus and the demon. Of course the people were amazed, and they were aware of Jesus’ authority and power. Others may have performed exorcisms but would have done so with much more verbiage quoting rabbis and scripture.
4:38-39 – 38 Jesus left the synagogue and went to the home of Simon. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was suffering from a high fever, and they asked Jesus to help her. 39 So he bent over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her. She got up at once and began to wait on them.
Nonetheless, in Simon’s home mother-in-law was suffering from a high fever and of course they asked Jesus to help her. It’s one thing to have a fever and feel under the weather, but she had a high fever. Today we might say she feels like she is ‘burning up” and suffering, then we would take her temperature using a thermometer. Some translations say Jesus told the fever to leave! A few say ordered or commanded it to leave. Most simply say rebuked. What we have here is the first example of Jesus’ power over sickness. Notice the quality of the healing, She got up at once and began to wait on them as there was no waiting between the healing of the fever and her complete recovery.
4:40-41 – 40 At sunset, the people brought to Jesus all who had various kinds of sickness, and laying his hands on each one, he healed them. 41 Moreover, demons came out of many people, shouting, “You are the Son of God!” But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew he was the Messiah.
At sunset a new day begins, so that is when the people started bringing people to Jesus to be healed. This was likely due to what happened in the synagogue and word also likely spread about the healing of Simon’s mother-in-law as well. Jesus denied no one, He healed all who were brought to Him.
4:41 –41 Moreover, demons came out of many people, shouting, “You are the Son of God!” But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew he was the Messiah.
It was not just the sick but also the possessed that were brought to Jesus. Luke is careful here to distinguish between healing and exorcism showing the two are not one and the same.
Also, why did Jesus continually silence the demons? Because the time for such disclosure was not yet at hand, and such a revelation would have certainly been misunderstood by the people.
4:42-43 – 42 At daybreak, Jesus went out to a solitary place. The people were looking for him and when they came to where he was, they tried to keep him from leaving them. 43 But he said, “I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent.” 44 And he kept on preaching in the synagogues of Judea.
There would be many synagogues, as any town with at least ten Jewish men could establish a synagogue.
Jesus came with a divine commission to proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God. In Matthew 3:2 He would say, Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.
4:44 –44 And he kept on preaching in the synagogues of Judea. In Mark 1:39, we have So he went into all of Galilee preaching in their synagogues and casting out demons. And in Matthew 4:23 we have Jesus went throughout all of Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and sickness among the people.