As Jesus began His formal ministry, He traveled to the small villages that dotted Galilee, teaching about God and the people’s relationship with Him. In one town, Capernaum, Jesus not only taught the people but healed those who were sick. Leaving Capernaum, He traveled to the town of His childhood—Nazareth.
Of course, news of Jesus’ teachings and healings in Capernaum traveled along with Him to Nazareth. The crowd in Nazareth logically would have expected the same for their town. As the people gathered at the synagogue to hear Jesus teach, they were impressed by Him. “All who were there spoke well of him and were amazed by the gracious words that fell from his lips” (Luke 4:22).
But in a matter of minutes, Jesus’ message did not seem nearly as gracious to the crowd. They became furious when Jesus implied that their skepticism about His being sent by God would cause them to lose not only God’s blessing but keep Jesus from doing the kinds of miracles He had done in Capernaum. “Jumping up, they mobbed him and took him to the edge of the hill on which the city was built. They intended to push him over the cliff, but he slipped away through the crowd and left them” (Luke 4:29-30). Thus ended Jesus’ interaction with the townspeople of Nazareth.
Jesus returned to Capernaum where people throughout the region came to hear the wisdom of His teachings and to experience the healing of the sick or those tortured by demonic power. Jesus stayed in Capernaum for a time because of the receptiveness of the people. Before departing the area, Jesus needed a time of rest and preparation for the next part of His ministry. He went into the wilderness where the crowds were unlikely to follow because of the harshness and difficulty of that place.
But the people of Capernaum had experienced the power, kindness, and wisdom of God through Jesus. When Jesus couldn’t be found in Capernaum, “the crowds searched everywhere for him” until they found Him (Luke 4:42). The severity of searching in the wilderness didn’t stop them, for they had found that the troubles in their lives—and there were many—were bearable while they were with Jesus.
Jesus has told us to seek and we shall find. Luke 4 tells of two different crowds and two different searches. The crowds of Capernaum “searched everywhere” for Jesus. The crowds of Nazareth searched for something less than Jesus and the truth that He brought, something to fit their own expectations.
What are we searching for, and where are we willing to search? If we are searching for Jesus during our good times and our wilderness times, we will find Him, for He desires to be found. If we are searching for Jesus only during specific times in our lives—such as difficult times—we will shortchange ourselves. If we are searching for something other than Jesus, we may or may not find it, but we will ultimately be disappointed by the inferior imitations for which we have settled.
When the crowds of Capernaum finally found Jesus, “they begged him not to leave them” (Luke 4:42). Jesus had made that much of a difference in their lives. Their minds were open to what He had to say to them, their hearts were open to what He asked of them, and their souls had experienced the life-changing reality of Jesus as Lord.
Lord, help us to be like the crowds of Capernaum, willing to search for the real You.
© 2010 Arlina Yates