The King of Stories-- A Certain Nobleman, and the First Night in a New Home

Introductory note from Jason Pratt: see here for the previous entry; and see here for the first entry of the series. (It explains what I'm doing, and how, and contains the Johannine prologue.)

Since some of the later chapters are long enough that I'll want to break them into two parts, I'm taking the opportunity to consolidate some shorter chapters here.

The Nobleman and the King

When Jesus went on up into Galilee (says the Evangelist; meaning from Sychar in Samaria, via Nazareth as implied the Evangelist’s peculiar callback to Luke 4:16-30), the Galileans received Him, having seen all the things He had done in Jerusalem at the (Passover) Feast; for they themselves had also gone to the festival.

And what He preached in Galilee (adds the Follower)--after leaving Nazareth (adds the Disciple)--was: "The time is now fulfilled; the kingdom of God is near! Commit to doing better, and trust in this good news!"


Thus He came again (from Nazareth) to Cana of Galilee (says the Evangelist), where He had made the water wine. [Footnote: Cana would also be the first town of significant size on a road between Nazareth and the northwest laketown district, where Capernaum was located.]

Now, there was a certain court official whose son was sick in Capernaum. [Footnote: perhaps Chuza, steward of Herod?] This man, hearing that Jesus is now coming up into Galilee from Judea, went to Him, requesting Him to go on down (to Capernaum, perhaps another ten miles east or so, probably through Magdala) and heal his son, for he was about to die.

Then Jesus said in his direction, "Unless you all see testifying signs and miracles, you absolutely will not believe!" [Footnote: the plural ‘you’ probably isn’t addressed to the Capernaum nobleman.]

The courtier is saying to Him (perhaps 'toward Him', trying to get His attention), "Sir! Go down, before my little boy dies!"

Jesus is saying to him, "Go on. Your son is living."

And the man trusts in the word that Jesus has said to him; and went away.

Now, as he already is going back down (the next morning--having spent the night on the way in Magdala perhaps), his slaves meet him; and they report, saying his boy is living.

He then made certain from them the time in which he was better; they said to him, "The fever left him yesterday at about 7 pm."

The father knew that had been the hour in which Jesus said to him, "Your son is living."

Now he believes--he, and his whole house!

Here again (says the Evangelist), is a second sign Jesus does; coming out of Judea into Galilee.

First Night in A New Home

So (says the Disciple), Jesus, leaving Nazareth, goes to settle in Capernaum; by the lake (of Galilee) which is in the region (formerly inhabited by the tribes) of Zebulon and Naphtali (before the deportation of the Ten Northern Tribes centuries earlier).

This (adds the Disciple) was done so that the prophecy declared through Isaiah would be fulfilled:

The lands of Zebulon and of Naphtali
The lakeroad and the other side of the Jordan
Galilee of the nations--
The people sitting in darkness perceived a great light;
A light arises for those in the province and shadow of death!


Now (says the Follower, taking the lead for this part of the story) as He was passing along beside Galilee Lake (on His way to Capernaum), He saw Simon--who would be known as 'Peter' (adds the Disciple)--and Simon's brother Andrew purse-netting in the sea, for they were fishermen.

And Jesus is saying to them, "Come here! Follow Me!" Immediately leaving their nets, they follow Him.

Now moving along a little further from there, He sees James bar Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with their father Zebedee, adjusting the nets.

And straightaway He calls them; and leaving their father in the ship with his hired men, they came away after Him, entering into Capernaum.

Very soon (at sundown) it was the Sabbath, so entering the synagogue (the following morning) He taught; and they were astonished at His teaching, for He was speaking as having authority, and not (constantly making reference back to judgments of others) as the scribes.

Now, a man having the spirit of an unclean demon went straight to the synagogue; and he cries out: "Aha!! What are we going to do with You, Jesus the Nazarean!? Did You come to destroy us?? I am aware of You, and of Who You are--the Holy One of God!"

Jesus rebukes him, saying, "Be strangled!--and get out of him!"

And, pitching him into their midst with convulsions, the unclean spirit came out of him, shouting with a loud voice--but in no way harming him (adds the Scholar).

Everyone was amazed, and discussed this among themselves, saying, "What new word is this? He is commanding the unclean spirits with power, and they are obeying Him!" [See first comment below for a footnote here.]

Many people ran straight out into the streets, to spread the news throughout the Galilean countryside. (Literally, "His fame went out at once into all the...")

But Jesus went straight to the house of Simon and Andrew, along with James and John, after leaving the synagogue. [See second comment below for a footnote here.]

Now, the mother of Simon's wife was lying in bed, pressed down with a fever; and they immediately spoke to Him, asking Him about it.

Jesus goes to her, standing over by her; and rebukes the fever, touching her hand. Then rousing her, He lifts her by her hand--and the fever leaves her.

At once, she serves them dinner.


Now after sunset (after the end of the Sabbath day), all the city gathered at the door, and people began to bring Him everyone who was sick; and He lays His hands on them, and cures them. Many unclean spirits were driven out this way as well, clamoring and trying to blurt out: "You are the Christ, the Son of God!"--but He rebuked them, and would not let them tell what they knew.

This happened (adds the Disciple) so that what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet would be fulfilled: "He took our infirmities, and He bears away our diseases."

But in the very early morning, while it was still dark, He arose, and went out to a desolate place, and there He prayed.

Simon trailed Him, though; and others followed afterward.

When they found Him, they said: "Everyone is looking for you!"

But He said to them, "Let us go on to the next towns. This is why I came out here."

The throngs of people (who had trailed Simon), however, tried their best to detain Him, so that He would not be going from them.

But Jesus told them all: "To other cities also, I must be bringing the good news of the kingdom of God! This is why I was commissioned!"

And (so) He went into their synagogues, all around Galilee, heralding, and casting out demons.

(Yet, implies the Scholar: Andrew and Simon and James and John once more stayed behind--but that is another story...)

Matthew 4:13-18
Matthew 4:20-22
Matthew 8:14-17
Mark 1:15-17a
Mark 1:18-39
Luke 4:31-43
John 4:45-54

[Next time: Actions and Consequences]


Jason Pratt said…
.......[first deferred footnote comment]

"What new word is this?" Exorcisms of the time often involved the use of 'magical phrases' repeated over and over, with variations, perhaps intending to hit upon the name of the devil; or calling upon various authorities up to and including God Himself, or variations of His names, in order to compel the unclean spirit. Jesus never does any of that. He acts as if He was the supreme authority the devils should be responding to. He also routinely shuts the devils up when they try to 'blow His cover' as the Authority!--a curious story detail.
Jason Pratt said…
.......[second deferred footnote comment]

Re the home of Simon and Andrew: GosJohn reports that Simon and Andrew came from the same town as Philip, Bethsaida (i.e. Bethsaida-Julias, on the northern shore). However, here they are living in Capernaum at this time, along with Simon's wife and possibly children.

One easy solution to this, is simply that people knew where Simon and Andrew grew up: in Bethsaida. Capernaum is soon known in the stories as Jesus' home town, but in those same stories the authors (and various characters) clearly remember He grew up in Nazareth and this is connected to a popular surname of His.

Naming conventions were rather loose; a person's name could easily change depending on how other people thought and referenced them. A woman who had become a key witness watching for something, might be popularly renamed the tower/watching-woman as a nickname, for example. Simon 'Kephas' himself would be a far more obvious (and less controversial) example.

Another solution, considering that there are two Bethsaidas in relatively close proximity, is that people got confused about which Bethsaida Andrew and Peter hailed from: the port-town suburb of Capernaum, or the Greco-Roman renovation project on the north shore? Considering that the Evangelist is making tacit side-references to Synoptic information, he probably wasn’t ignorant of the traditional information which clearly places Simon and Andrew living and basing their fishing-work in the Capernaum area.

Considering that his location of Andrew’s hometown being the other Bethsaida is fairly quiet and even offhanded, however, the author doesn’t seem to be competing against the standard understanding. It points to the Evangelist having tacit knowledge of a more complex historical reality--which points in turn to the prior theory being true: Peter and Andrew came originally from Bethsaida-Julias but were living and working in Capernaum’s Bethsaida in the days of Jesus’ ministry.

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