Jesus home by the sea was in Kefar Nahum (Capernaum). The Bible describes Capernaum as ‘His own city.’ (Matt. 9:1) Ancient Capernaum was abandoned about a thousand years ago. Today it is called Kefer Nahum (Hebrew) and Talhum (Arabic).
We walked streets unveiled by archaeologists in the early 1800s. Just 2.5 miles (4 km) from the Jordan River, Capernaum flourished on the northwestern shore of the Sea of Galilee (today called Lake Kinneret). In the Bible it was referred to as the lake of Gennesaret, Sea of Chunnereth and the Sea of Tiberias.
This was a crossroads where taxes were collected from travellers (Matthew 9: 9) which brings to mind Levi, the tax collector and the willingness of Jesus to befriend tax collectors despite their negative reputation with the locals.
Halvor Ronning observed: “Once his public career began in earnest after the forty days of temptation in the wilderness, Jesus’ fame grew rapidly. He could not live long in obscurity after moving to Capernaum because he was no longer in an out-of-the-way village, but on a much traveled trade route. He attracted so much attention that the houses of Capernaum, and very likely the synagogue itself, were not big enough for the crowds that gathered. Soon the hillsides of Capernaum became his outdoor auditorium.” (Kfar Nahum (Capernaum) the Village of Nahum by Halvor Ronning – Jerusalem Perspective.com)
We walked around the amazing archaeological sites and posed, photographed and talked of the amazing biblical history the stones of this location tell.
It is not surprising Jesus mixed with fishermen here. Capernaum was a fishing village. He called fishermen to be His first disciples, Peter, Andrew, James and John (Matthew 4:18-22).
Near Capernaum, the Lord fed five thousand with five loaves and two fishes (Matthew 14:13-21). On another day He fed four thousand people with five loaves and a few fishes (Matthew: 32-39). As I did my tourist thing, I visualized Yeshua calling on His disciples to cast their nets nearby.
There were many miracles performed here. Although the town is not mentioned before the Gospels, archaeologists have discovered coins which indicate Kefar Nahum was a happening place around the second century BC.
“Excavations carried out by Stanislao Loffreda showed from apostolic times onwards Capernaum and the surrounding area were continuously inhabited by Jewish Christians. They passed on their knowledge of the holy places in the area to the pilgrims who began to come to the Holy Land from the West in the fourth century and took home with them stories of what they had seen.” (http://www.planetware.com/river-jordan/capernaum-kefar-nahum-isr-nr-cp.htm)
“Caravans stopped at Capernaum to resupply themselves with produce and dried fish. At the lake shore, where Peter and other fishermen worked, archaeologists discovered a fish sales area.
This well-built structure measured 2 meters in width and 5 meters in length and contained two large, rather shallow, semicircular pools, one at each end, with a rectangular platform in the middle on which, presumably, the fish were cleaned and sold… The two pools had a thick coat of watertight plaster. [Herold Weiss, “Recent Work at Capernaum,” Bible and Spade, Vol. 10, No. 1 (Associates for Biblical Research, 1981), p. 24.]
It was not hard in any of those places to visualize Jesus and His disciples living their extraordinary lives right where we stood.
I remember singing “How Great Thou Art” in a small chapel on the shores of the Galilee. We were pleased to have more than 100 voices join in. They were tourists from Ethiopia who entered the chapel. Their physical arrival was measured, careful and sensitive, but they sang with great gusto.
Later with playful joy and excitement they placed logs into the Lake and took photos of each other. They walked out onto the logs and simulated shots of walking on water. They laughed and rejoiced as they did and we entered into their fun.
Already I knew I was experiencing a profound change in my Christian understanding. Consider the unique plan the Lord had for His people. He created the land and the people and He made His choices accordingly to His great plan.
He called the Hebrews out of Egypt. He could have brought revival without a change of location but instead He led the Hebrews into their ‘land of milk and honey.’
Remember His words to Abraham? “Now the LORD had said to Abram: “Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you.” (Gen. 12: 1) The Lord had a specific land in mind and He instructed Abraham to follow Him there.
In the land God trains His people in faith and trust. James Monson wrote: “ “This land served as God’s testing ground of faith. It was here, in this land where both personal and national existence were threatened, that Israel’s leaders and people were called upon to learn the true meaning of security and well-being, of trust in the Lord their God.”
(James M. Monson, The Land Between: A Regional Study Guide to the Land of the Bible, Fourth ed. (Rockfork, Ill.: Biblical Backgrounds, Inc., 1996))
We experienced the might and majesty of the Lord on Mt Sinai and then He took us to a new level of understanding as we traveled through Nazareth, Bethlehem and Capernaum (Kefar Nahum).
Our conversation overflowed with “Did you see?” “Did you feel?” “Can you imagine?”
I had no idea that my journey had just begun.