Can you imagine visiting the town where Jesus lived – while He lived there? Or worshipping the Father in the same synagogue Jesus so often taught in?
Just the thought filled our group with awe.
Walking in the ruins of the Capernaum synagogue, we were overwhelmed. There we were, standing in what was once a synagogue built in the 4th century – which was itself built on the remains of the synagogue mentioned in our Bible.
One source sums it up historically:
Excavations have revealed a synagogue from the time of Jesus with walls made of worked stone and 4 feet thick. These earlier walls were preserved up to 3 feet high and the entire western wall still exists and was used as the foundation for the later synagogue.(1)
And we were there.
This wasn’t just any ancient synagogue, mind you; we were standing among synagogue ruins in the same town Jesus must have called home.
It’s verified for us in the Gospels. A faithful reporter tells us that Jesus moved there, to that very town, after His 40-day wilderness experience. Matthew 4 says that “when Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, he went to Galilee. But instead of staying in Nazareth, Jesus moved to Capernaum. This town was beside Lake Galilee in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali.” (CEV)
And this was the town where Simon Peter, Andrew, James and John and Matthew the tax collector all lived.
So we see that, for Jesus, this was where He kept going back to. And although we may think of it now as Capernaum, back then He would have called it by its former Hebrew name Kfar Nahum – or “Village of Nahum.” And the Gospels clearly teach He spent a lot of time there during His earthly ministry. (3)
So we were actually in the town where Jesus once lived, in what remained of the synagogue He often taught in.
But none of us knew the full story.
Remember that Roman centurion begging Jesus to heal his servant? The one who, when Jesus agreed to go with him, protested he wasn’t worthy…but if Jesus just said the word, it would be done?
That conversation happened in Capernaum. And healing that man’s servant was just one of many miracles Jesus performed there. But what makes it even more interesting is how the Gospel tells us this centurion was respected by Jewish society because…get this…he built the Capernaum synagogue.
This means tourists today can visit the town where Jesus lived and stand right there among the ruins where He used to worship. At the same time knowing the foundations were built by someone who met Jesus face to face, asked Him for a miracle and received it.
The ruins of Capernaum’s synagogue are awe-inspiring even now, impressive with ornately carved stones, some dating back 2,000 years. Breathtaking in beauty, they tantalize their visitors who can only try to imagine the former glory.
But imagine being there with Jesus.
- Matthew 4:13; 8:5; 17:24; 11:23; Mark 1:21; 2:1; 9:33 Luke 4:23,31; 7:1; 10:15; John 2:12; 4:46; 6:17,24,59 http://www.bible-history.com/sketches/ancient/capernaum-synagogue.html
- Jesus healed the centurion’s servant (Luke 7:1-10), Peter’s mother-in-law and many others (Matthew 8:14-17; Mark 1:21-34; Luke 4:31-41), the man with a palsy when friends lowered him into the house where Jesus taught (Matthew 9:1-8; Mark 2:1-12; Luke 5:17-26), raised Jairus’ daughter from the dead (Matthew 9:18-26; Mark 5:22-43; Luke 8:40-56), healed the woman with an “issue of blood” (Matthew 9:20-22; Mark 5:25-34; Luke 8:43-48) and also the man with the withered hand who He healed on the Sabbath in the synagogue (Matthew 12:9-14; Mark 3:1-6; Luke 6:6-11).