Capernaum was home to about 1,500 people.

There are advantages to growing up in a small town. Everyone knows where you live, what you drive, and what you did last night. You grow up with great trust in humanity and knowing no stranger. You truly learn to love your neighbor as yourself. Friendships are forged for life. No feud is ever worth missing your weekly burrito on Mexican Food Night at the local café.

There are also some frustrating aspects unique to growing up in a rural community. Everyone knows where you live, what you drive, and what you did last night. You grow up dreaming of moving to a big city and escaping the scrutiny of your nosy neighbors. You long for the ‘bigger and better’ where everyone does NOT know your name… and what you may or may not have done last Friday night.

While modern technology has greatly increased the rate of speed at which world news travels, it’s still got nothing on my grandma on her front porch with her rotary dial phone. Growing up, my elementary school playground sat directly across from her house and every time I was at recess, she would be out there watching me. When I got home after school, my mom would already know my big news of the day, whether it was catching a touchdown pass in football or getting in a scuffle with kids on the opposing team. Good or bad, she knew before I could tell her. That’s just how fast the word spread.

Jesus understood this well. He spent his childhood years in Nazareth, but referred to Capernaum as his hometown. Capernaum was strategically placed on the Via Maris, an ancient trade route, and was home to about 1,500 people. The Via Maris was a direct passage connecting Egypt to Syria, and whenever something happened on this route, word spread all the way from …

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