Mk 1:21-34 They arrive at the lakeside town of Capernaum (meaning ‘village of comfort’) where Jesus teaches in the synagogue and casts an evil spirit out of a man. Afterwards, Jesus is invited to the home of the Barjonas family (meaning ‘Son of Jonah’ or ‘Son of John’ – see John 1:42) where Simon and Andrew now live with Simon’s wife and other members of the prosperous family fishing business. Many people are brought to Jesus, who heals the sick and drives out many demons.
Jesus made the Jewish village of Capernaum his base from the autumn of 27AD (see Map 6). He preached here, and performed many healing miracles – including the healing of Simon’s mother-in-law from a fever. Capernaum is situated at the foot of the Galilean Hills, where hot springs rich in minerals, bring naturally warm water to the surface. The town is situated on the shore of the Sea of Galilee in the Jordan Valley and lies at about 700 feet / 200 metres below sea level. As a result, the climate is much warmer than in Jerusalem or on the Judaean Hills, and it would have been pleasant for crowds to sit outside in the sunshine listening to Jesus – even during the autumn and winter. Jesus – significantly – spent his time in Galilee during the winters of the first three years of his ministry (26-28AD).
Modern-day visitors to Capernaum can visit the synagogue built in the 3rd century AD on the site of the one that stood here in Jesus’s day. The black basalt blocks forming the foundations of the earlier synagogue built by a Roman centurion (see Luke 7:5) can be clearly seen. A modern Franciscan church – in the shape of a boat – was built in 1990 over the remains of a house believed to be the home of Simon Peter – where Jesus healed Peter’s mother-in-law. The original house had been converted into an octagonal church in the 5th century.
Black basalt blocks form the base of the synagogue at Capernaum (Luke 7:5)
Jesus travels round Galilee
Mk 1:35-45 During the winter of 27/28AD, Jesus goes to the nearby villages of Galilee, preaching and casting out demons. In one village he heals a man with leprosy and sends him to the priest to offer a sacrifice in accordance with the Jewish custom (see Leviticus 14:1-7).
Map 7 Lakeside Teaching and Miracles