Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Capernaum and Into Him

It was God's desire to make us~and even further to be with us and come to us that His ultimate desire to draw us into Himself might be realized~ into His life~ into the being of God that we might know Him, be with Him and be in Him.

Then they came to Capernaum, and on the sabbath he entered the synagogue and taught.
The people were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes.

In their synagogue was a man with an unclean spirit; he cried out, "What have you to do with us, 13 Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are--the Holy One of God!" Jesus rebuked him and said, "Quiet! Come out of him!"
The unclean spirit convulsed him and with a loud cry came out of him.
All were amazed and asked one another, "What is this? A new teaching with authority. He commands even the unclean spirits and they obey him." His fame spread everywhere throughout the whole region of Galilee.

On leaving the synagogue he entered the house of Simon and Andrew with James and John. Simon's mother-in-law lay sick with a fever. They immediately told him about her. He approached, grasped her hand, and helped her up. Then the fever left her and she waited on them.

This morning I remembered a time when I was in Capernaum, in Israel, along the Sea of Galilee. In Capernaum there is the remains of an ancient synagogue which has a mosaic floor from the first century. The floor and part of the foundation is from the time of Christ. Saint Peter's house is also there. At first it was amazing to be standing in a place with such historical significance and such beauty. Archaeologists have uncovered many items from this city (which was destroyed at the time of the Roman persecution) including several millstones. Millstones are large circular stones used from grinding grain (or anything else that required grinding) and it is believed that millstones such as these are what Jesus Christ was referring to when he said taught that it would be better for a person to be cast into the sea (with a millstone around his neck) than to cause "one of these little ones" to sin.

On our tour of Capernaum we were given time to look around on our own. I went and got my bible and began looking up passages that referred to the very place I was sitting. I had been to other sites and done similar things but there was, for me, something very special about this place. It was, in fact, where Jesus chose to center His ministry; this is where some of His disciples came from and there I remember being first struck by the overwhelming reality that Jesus Christ was a man.

This may not seem like much of a spiritual experience but for me it was astounding. Like many people I grew up hearing a great deal about Jesus Christ being God...King of Kings...Lord of Lords...Ascended to Heaven...seated at the right hand of God the Father. I heard a great deal of things that were good and true about Jesus Christ as God but I remembered hearing very little about Jesus being a man. It makes sense to me, of course, that if a Person is fully God and fully man that the "God-part" would be stressed. But there, in Capernaum, I came more face-to-face with Jesus the man.

It is true that we can't fully comprehend the Spiritual realm. In fact it is true that there is more about it that we don't understand about it than what we do understand. We are men and women bound on one level to our humanity though we are, like Christ, both divine and human beings. That which we see with our eyes has it's origin in the divine as it comes from the mind and heart of God. We are able to see because it pleased God to give us sight and to allow us to experience His wondrous creation. Amazing.

The point I would like to make is that it is the humanity of Jesus Christ that allows us to more fully experience the spirit within us as humans. The advent of Jesus Christ revealed to us that He was the God-man that we might become more fully divine. The heart of the Gospel is that we are no longer bound by sin and death because Jesus Christ, fully God and fully man, chose to be bound by sin and death for us that we might choose to be made alive with Him. As surely as Jesus Christ was put to death for our sake in flesh we, who inherited death in the flesh, might inherit life in the Spirit. Many would falsely believe themselves able to ascend to divinity on their own merit, their own effort, or by their own way. Jesus Christ came to demonstrate the falsehood of this belief.

He humbled Himself on Earth, in Capernaum and elsewhere, that we might be exalted with Him in Heaven. Therefore we must also humble ourselves on Earth by submitting to His desire and accepting His initiative. Jesus Christ walked here that we might ascend to Him.

Through Him, with Him and in Him in the unity of the Holy Spirit...ONE God forver and ever!

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