Truth, Understanding, Insight

Capernaum: A place of rest

19th October 2013, seh


The beauty of the Bible is that it has little pictures within little pictures. Take the eyewitness account of what happened after the feeding of the 5000 on the grassy mountain side, when Jesus, pronouced Y'shua, walks on water.

It was on the eve of the Passover, where the people might think of their redemption from Egypt. They might connect the miracle of the loaves with the Manna. They might also think to seek the peace or 'rest' in the land promised to their fathers. Paul says,

For if Joshua (Yehoshua) had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day. There remains therefore a rest to the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest, he also has ceased from his own works, as God did from his. (Hebrews 4:7-10)

As they identified Y'shua as 'that Prophet” Moses spoke of, they understood they were seeking the peace and 'rest' of the kingdom.

Then Jesus walks on turbulent water to calm them. This event is the focus of this article,

When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone.
And when evening was now come, his disciples went down unto the sea, and entered into a ship, and went over the sea toward Capernaum.
And it was now dark, and Jesus was not come to them. And the sea arose by reason of a great wind that blew. So when they had rowed about five and twenty or thirty furlongs, they see Jesus walking on the sea, and drawing nigh unto the ship: and they were afraid.
But he saith unto them, “It is I; be not afraid.”
Then they willingly received him into the ship: and immediately the ship was at the land where they went. (John 6:15-21)

There is a detail in this cameo picture of the events that night, that is a delight. It involves the point that John noted they were immediately at the land, their destination and the meaning of Capernaum.

It is made of two words 'Kapher' 'a walled village' and 'nahum' which means 'comfortable'. Comfortable from the word for a sigh, a breathing out, also has the sense of there being 'consolation' or 'repentence'.

From the parallel account of the events in Mark, we can know the discplies rowing that night were not going anywhere, as the wind was against them.

And when even was come, the ship was in the midst of the sea, and he alone on the land. And he (Y'shua) saw them toiling in rowing; for the wind was contrary unto them:
and about the fourth watch of the night he comes unto them, walking upon the sea, and would have passed by them.
But when they saw him walking upon the sea, they supposed it had been a spirit, and cried out: For they all saw him, and were troubled.
And immediately he talked with them, and saith unto them, “Be of good cheer: it is I; be not afraid.” And he went up unto them into the ship; and the wind ceased: and they were sore amazed in themselves beyond measure, and wondered. (Mark 6:47-51)

Putting the accounts together we undertsand that the disciples were struggling and weary with the work of rowing to the defence of the city of comfort, consolation and repentence. Then when our Lord comes to them immediately they are at the land of the city of repentence, comfort and consolation. They could cease from labour against the wind, which is symbolic of the vanity of life (Isaiah 41:29). They were given rest.

The account of Matthew has some added detail.

But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary. And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea.
And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear. But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid. And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.
And he said, “Come.”
And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, “Lord, save me.”
And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, “O thou of little faith, wherefore did you doubt?”
And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased.
Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, “Of a truth thou art the Son of God.” (Matthew 14:24-33)

The cameo picture is given more detail as the people on the ship immediately, without their own effort, though the presence of Y'shua, reach the walled city of consolation and repentence. There they confess Y'shua is the Son of God.

We can see a parallel to us. We often labour for vanity, and in so doing will achieve nothing, until we call on the Lord. In addition, Peter seeks to walk with his Lord and is given success, until he doubts. Peter is saved by taking the hand of the Messiah held out to him. When both Peter and Y'shua are come into the ship, the wind ceases and they are immediately at the destination they sought, the walled city of consolation, or the place of comfort, consolation.

We will be toiling against the adverse winds of life until the times of restitution, when once again the son of God is on earth. This consolation is the hope of the Bible, and with the hope of the lord stepping on board the our labour now is not in vain,

Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief. (Hebrews 4:11)

For more like this Solomon's prayer: a guide for us


Head of the corner

[22] The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner.