Mark – Have You come to destroy us?
The scene in this part of the Gospel of Mark is Capernaum, in the district of Galilee.
Read Isaiah 9:1-2 and Matthew 4:15-16. What do these verse tell us about those living in Galilee?
Capernaum means “the house (or, town) of Nahum”; however, the identity of this Nahum is unknown. In New Testament times, Capernaum was a centre of commerce. Fishing and trade were important, and the town was a Roman tax polling station. Capernaum was the home of Peter and became a kind of base of operations for Jesus’ Galilean ministry.
The lake on which Capernaum was built has four different names in the Bible:
- Sea of Chinnereth (Num 34:11; Josh 12:3; 13:27)
- Sea of Gennesaret (Luke 5:1; Josephus, Ant. 13)
- Sea of Tiberias (John 6:1; 21:1)
- Sea of Galilee (Matt 4:18)
Jesus performed the following miracles in Capernaum:
- Healed Jairus’ Daughter (Matt 9:18–26; Mark 5:21–43; Luke 8:41–56)
- Fed 5,000 people (Likely closer to Bethsaida, John 6)
- Caught a miraculous amount of fish (John 21:4–14)
- Healed a demon possessed man (Mark 1:21–28)
- Healed Peter’s mother-in-law (Matt 8:14–15)
- Healed a paralytic (Matt 9:2–8; Mark 2:1–12; Luke 5:17–20)
- Healed the centurion’s servant (Matt 8:5–13; Luke 7:1–10)
- Healed the woman with the issue of blood (Mark 5:21–43)
Synagogues, buildings for worship, originated during the time of the Exile as the result of Jews meeting together for prayer and the study of the Torah. Worshipping in synagogues did not replace the major festivals during which Jews had to worship in the temple in Jerusalem.
Jesus preached according to the “freedom of the synagogue” – a Jewish custom that permitted recognised visiting teachers to preach (based on the reading from the Law or Prophets) in the synagogue by invitation of its leaders—to bring the Good News to his countrymen.
1. Read verse 21: What was the major purpose of Jesus going into the synagogue?
2. Read verse 22: What did those who attended the synagogue think of the teaching of Christ? Where did Christ get his authority from? Read John 8:28-29
3. Read Mark1:23-24: The reading and the application of the Scriptures (Malachi 3:1-2, 4:5-6, Isaiah 40:1-3) had another response. What was it? Read also verse 25.
4. “What do you want with us?” indicates that the demons disassociated with and opposed Jesus. Make the question,“Have you come to destroy us?” statement; what does it mean?
5. Read 1John 3:8. What was the mission of Jesus Christ?