‘On the Sabbath he went as usual to the synagogue.’ Luke 4.16
Capernaum in northern Israel goes back to biblical times, when it was a village along the trade route between Damascus and Egypt. Jesus of Nazareth chose Capernaum as his HQ. Several of its residents became his followers.
The Gospels tell us that Jesus not only performed miracles in Capernaum, but taught in the synagogue, which is Greek for ‘congregation’. The word refers to places of worship that were scattered across the Jewish lands and constructed in such a way that people would be looking towards the great temple in Jerusalem.
The religious leaders took offence at Jesus performing healing miracles on the Sabbath, the holy day of rest, so much so that they began to talk about killing him. Jesus respected the Sabbath, but he argued, why on earth would God object to people interrupting their rest to help others in need?
Jesus’ life had ordinary moments. He became tired and thirsty, he knew pain and had a natural rhythm to his life. On the Sabbath, you’d find him teaching. But had you been there listening to him, you’d have sensed his extraordinary power. Luke records Jesus going about his teaching duties and reading the familiar promise of the messianic age in Isaiah, only to go on interpreting it like nothing people had heard before.
In fact, Jesus boldly claims to be the fulfilment of Isaiah’s prophecy! Oppressed by Rome, Jews were waiting on one to bring freedom and usher in God’s rule. Jesus says the wait is over; ‘I am the one!’ He doesn’t just talk a big game. He goes on to fulfil the words spoken about him. He does what we could not do: set us free from sin and end the spiritual oppression.
When you know this to be true, even the most ordinary of days can be filled with extraordinary purpose.