Jesus' move from Nazareth to Capernaum (Matt. 4:13) was a strategic decision. Capernaum was on the main highway through Galilee. Both Roman and temple taxes were collected there, likely because it was the eastern outpost of Galilee (the cities further east were Hellenized). The city had royal officials as well as a contingent of Roman soldiers.

By some accounts, the town may have had a population of 10,000 to 15,000 and may have been larger than Nazareth. Though it was not among the largest or most influential of Galilee's cities, it was at a crossroads. Miracles, exorcisms, and healings accomplished there would enjoy a wide report throughout the country. It was also a fishing village, one of over a dozen small fishing anchorages along the Galilee seacoast. It shouldn't surprise us, then, that much of Jesus ministry and teaching were shaped by the culture of lakeside Galilee.

Rich metaphor

The Gospels contain many stories about life on the lake. When there was danger of a crowd overwhelming Jesus, the disciples had a boat ready for a quick departure. A boat also provided restful solitude. He was so comfortable in boats, he taught from them to crowds on the beaches of the sea. At one point, he even joined the disciples on their boat when they were at sea—and he walked on water to them.

The fishing trade provided Jesus with raw materials for parables as well as a job description for his apostles ("I will make you fishers of people"). Fish stories abounded in his ministry: he described the kingdom of God as a great haul of fish, and when he fed the 5,000, he provided fish along with bread. He even located money for taxes in a fish's mouth.

Net results

Net fishing was the stock-in-trade of the people who lived on the lake, and the ...

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