Miracles Jesus Performed in His Own City
WOULD you be glad to see sick loved ones restored to health? Would it thrill you to observe the ears of the deaf unstopped, to hear the tongue of the dumb sing, to witness the eyes of the blind being opened and even to welcome back the dead? You would? But do you say that could never happen? Yet it has happened before!
Just a little over 1,900 years ago there was a man who performed miracles such as these in the land that is now the Republic of Israel. That man’s name was Jesus. The Bible reports regarding Jesus’ public appearance in this region: “So, boarding the boat, he proceeded across [the Sea of Galilee] and went into his own city.”—Matt. 9:1.
But which city was Jesus’ “own city”?
HOW JESUS’ CITY CAN BE IDENTIFIED
It was near the sea, for when Jesus got off the boat he went into this city. Well, then, was Jesus’ city Bethlehem? That is where he was born. How could it be, since Bethlehem is nowhere near the Sea of Galilee? It is some sixty miles or so away.
Well, was Nazareth Jesus’ “own city”? This is where Jesus grew up and became a carpenter. (Luke 4:16; John 1:45; Mark 6:3) But Nazareth is not near the sea either. Evidently the modern town of En Nasira is the site of ancient Nazareth, and it is about a five-hour walk from the Sea of Galilee.
Near the beginning of his preaching, Jesus returned to Nazareth and spoke in its synagogue. However, the men became angry, rushed Jesus out of the city and tried to kill him. But Jesus got away. (Luke 4:16-30) The Bible explains that after Jesus was forced to leave Nazareth, “he came and took up residence in Capernaum beside the sea.”—Matt. 4:13.
Yes, Capernaum, where Jesus took up residence beside the sea, was Jesus’ “own city.”
SETTING OF MANY MIRACLES
While he was walking alongside the sea near Capernaum, Jesus called to his first four disciples to follow him. They were Simon Peter and his brother Andrew, and James and his brother John. Jesus said to them: “Come after me, and I shall cause you to become fishers of men.” The five of them then entered Capernaum.—Mark 1:16-21.
Here Jesus went into the synagogue and cured a demon-possessed man. The Bible says: “Immediately they went out of the synagogue and went into the home of Simon and Andrew with James and John.” (Mark 1:22-29) From this we learn that Peter and Andrew were now living in Capernaum, having moved there from their former residence in Bethsaida.—John 1:44.
Peter’s mother-in-law, who was evidently living with Peter and Andrew, was sick with fever. So Jesus cured her. The Bible account continues: “After evening had fallen, when the sun had set, the people began bringing him all those who were ill and those demon-possessed; and the whole city was gathered right at the door. So he cured many that were ill with various sicknesses, and he expelled many demons.”—Mark 1:30-34.
What a marvelous witness this was to all those people of Capernaum! They saw firsthand many miracles of Jesus.
Perhaps while living in Capernaum Jesus stayed at the home of Peter and Andrew. If so, Jesus was at their home when, as the Bible later says: “After some days he again entered into Capernaum and he was reported to be at home.”—Mark 2:1.
When people heard that Jesus had returned, they flocked to the house. The crowd was so great that they jammed the doorway and spilled over into the area outside. The stage was set for a truly remarkable event. The Bible says: “Men came bringing him a paralytic carried by four. But not being able to bring him right to Jesus on account of the crowd, they removed the roof over where he was, and having dug an opening they lowered the cot on which the paralytic was lying.”
What did Jesus do? Was he angry? Not at all! He was deeply impressed by their faith, and said to the paralytic: “Child, your sins are forgiven.” Imagine that! Could Jesus actually forgive sins?
The religious leaders present did not think so, and Jesus knew what they were thinking. So he said: “‘In order for you men to know that the Son of man has authority to forgive sins upon the earth,’—he said to the paralytic: ‘I say to you, Get up, pick up your cot, and go to your home.’ At that he did get up, and immediately picked up his cot and walked out in front of them all.”—Mark 2:2-12.
The cure was clearly by divine power. But later Jesus performed an even more remarkable miracle. The daughter of Jairus, the presiding officer of the synagogue there in Capernaum, became sick and died. Yet Jesus responded to the requests for help and went to the man’s house. The Bible says: “Taking the hand of the young child, [Jesus] said to her . . . ‘Maiden, I say to you, Get up!’ And immediately the maiden rose and began walking, for she was twelve years old. And at once they were beside themselves with great ecstasy.”—Mark 5:41, 42.
Certainly those people of Capernaum had every reason to accept Jesus as the Son of God! But only a few did. The vast majority were concerned simply with the personal benefit they could receive.
WHAT SIGNIFICANCE FOR US TODAY?
Capernaum no longer exists as a city. Its ruins stretch out for about a mile along the northern coast of the Sea of Galilee. Interestingly, one of the finest synagogue ruins yet discovered has been excavated there. Although it dates from the second or third century, it is suggested that it may have been built on the site of an earlier synagogue in which Jesus himself preached. So, then, these ruins are a reminder of Jesus’ many miracles in “his own city.”
It is true that the healings and resurrection that Jesus performed in Capernaum were only of temporary benefit, since eventually those people again got sick and died. Yet Jesus proved something—he proved that health and even life itself can be restored. Thus we have certain basis for believing that what Jesus did on a small scale he can do on a global scale now that he has been resurrected and is installed as God’s heavenly king. But will he really use his power in this way?
We have Jesus’ own promise. He said: “The hour is coming in which all those in the memorial tombs will hear his voice and come out.” (John 5:28, 29) Do you believe this? If so, do not be like those residents of Capernaum who saw but refused to become Jesus’ followers. May you, rather, on the basis of your belief, be motivated from an appreciative heart to love and serve Jesus and his heavenly Father.—Matt. 11:23, 24.
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Sea of Galilee