The Cursed City of Capernaum:
Why Was the Center of Jesus’ Ministry Abandoned?
Capernaum was an ancient farming and fishing village that had a population of approximately 1,500. It was located on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee, approximately two miles west of the Jordan River. The village wasn’t mentioned by name in the Old Testament, but it was referred to as Jesus’ “own city” because Jesus taught and lived there for several years.
Jesus moved to Capernaum from Nazareth and began his ministry when he was about 30 years old. Jesus “went into Capernaum, and immediately on the Sabbath He entered the synagogue and taught.” (Mark 1:21). Capernaum is also where Jesus met and converted the Apostles Peter (also known as Simon or St. Peter), James, Andrew, Matthew and John. Jesus often stayed at Peter’s house, where he performed many miracles. Peter, James, Andrew, and John were fishermen, and Matthew was a tax collector.
Miracles That Jesus Performed in Capernaum
Jesus demonstrated his ability to heal at the synagogue, where he encountered a possessed man and cast out the evil spirit. News of this miracle quickly spread throughout Galilee. Jesus performed another miracle at Peter’s house, where he saw Peter’s mother-in-law in bed with a fever. Jesus touched her hand and her fever went away.
It was also in Capernaum where Jesus healed a paralyzed man. Large crowds gathered at the house where Jesus was teaching, so some men had to make an opening in the roof to lower the paralyzed man into the home. After Jesus spoke to the man, he got up and walked.
Why Jesus Pronounced a Curse on Capernaum
Capernaum is one of three cities that Jesus cursed because of its lack of faith. He said, ” And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted up to the skies? No, you will go down to the depths. If the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Sodom, it would have remained to this day. But I tell you that it will be more bearable for Sodom on the day of judgment than for you.” (Matt. 11:23-24). “
As the center of Jesus’ ministry, Capernaum witnessed more of Jesus’ miracles than any other town. Jesus was revered by the common people there, but the Pharisees and scribes rejected him. Capernaum was abandoned in the 7th Century. By the 19th Century, it was nothing more than a pile of rubble. Other towns that witnessed the miracles of Jesus yet disregarded him met the same fate.
Sites of Interest in Capernaum
The ruins of ancient Capernaum were discovered in 1838 by American explorer Edward Robinson. Today, there are several attractions of interest to Christian pilgrims in Capernaum, including the ruins of St. Peter’s home, which are located about 30 meters south of the synagogue. An octagonal Byzantine church was erected above the ruins of St. Peter’s home in the 5th Century in his honor. Pilgrims who visited St. Peter’s home during the Roman period left graffiti on the walls with words like, “Jesus,” “Lord,” and “Messiah.”
The most prominent building in Capernaum is a white limestone synagogue that dates back to the 4th Century. The white synagogue was built over the remains of the synagogue where Jesus is thought to have preached. The earlier synagogue was made with black basalt rock.
Tread in the Footsteps of Jesus with Christian Holyland Tours
If you want to see the synagogue in Capernaum that was the center of Jesus’ activities and the home of St. Peter where Jesus performed miracles, join Christian Holyland Tours on a Christian tour to Israel. For more information, please call 1.800.2.ISRAEL (or 1.800.247.7235)