I had the opportunity to travel to Israel recently. I had the privilege and the pleasure to visit Capernaum, the hometown of Jesus.
And leaving Nazareth he went and lived in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali,Matthew 4:13
Why did Jesus choose to reside in Capernaum? Why not go to Jerusalem, the great city and make an impact there?
Matthew, who also lived in Capernaum tells us why.
“So that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:Matthew 4:14-16
“The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali,
the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the GENTILES—
the people dwelling in darkness
have seen a great light,
and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death,
on them a light has dawned.”
The region of Galilee was predominantly Gentile in its population. Matthew dd not fail to recognize the significance of Jesus making his home in Capernaum. LIGHT had come to this region of Gentiles! Yes, His primary focus was the Jews but the Gentiles are not left out!
(He is) a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.”Luke 2:32
Jesus chose to live and preach and teach and heal in this region. It became His chosen base of operations for the duration of His ministry in Galilee. As result His fame spread everywhere and great crowds followed Him.
“Great crowds? But only Jews right?“
And great crowds followed him from Galilee and the Decapolis, and from Jerusalem and Judea, and from beyond the Jordan.Matthew 4:25
Galilee was predominantly Gentile.
Decapolis, was a Roman and generally Gentile district to the south and east of the Sea of Galilee.
Gentiles followed Him too.
“But he ignored them, right? He chased them away, right?“
So his fame spread throughout all SYRIA, and THEY brought him all the sick, those afflicted with various diseases and pains, those oppressed by demons, those having seizures, and paralytics, and he healed THEM.Matthew 4:24
Syria, was a Gentile region north of Galilee, between Damascus and the Mediterranean Sea. The Syrians heard about Him and brought their sick to Him. And He healed them!
The miraculous feeding of the 4000 was in Gentile territory. (The earlier feeding of 5000 was in Jewish territory.)
Who was the first missionary Jesus sent out to preach?
Not Peter, not John or any of the other apostles.
Long before Paul, Jesus sent out a Gentile man, who he had healed of demon-possession, to go preach to the Gentiles.
“Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis (Gentile region of ten cities) how much Jesus had done for him, and everyone marveled.Matthew 8:19-20
Jesus had many encounters with Gentiles. Somehow, Muslims develop a blind spot when it comes to these things. Jesus healed Gentiles, He taught them and spent time with them.
Once He even stayed in a Samaritan village to teach and preach and give them salvation. They recognized what many Jews failed to discern, that He was the Savior of the world.
Here is the account in John 4.
“So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. And because of his words many more became believers.
They said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.” (John 4:40-42)
What does all this mean? Matthew connects the dots for us.
In Him the Gentiles will put their hope.Matthew 12:22