42 At daybreak he departed and went into a deserted place. And the crowds were looking for him; and when they reached him, they wanted to prevent him from leaving them. 43But he said to them, ‘I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God to the other cities also; for I was sent for this purpose.’ 44So he continued proclaiming the message in the synagogues of Judea.*
They started bringing the sick to Jesus at sunset; he likely healed and cared for them until late in the night. But already, early in the morning, at daybreak, he went out into a deserted place – a wilderness sort of area. Jesus, like any of us, needed to take time away from the hectic work he had taken on, away from the crowds, away from the demands – to meet alone with God! It is a good thing they did not have cell phones in those days!! Can you imagine – Jesus getting a text from Peter, “where did you go?” “I’m on the mountain praying.” “People are looking for you!” Well, that is sort of the way it went – Jesus found his solitary place, and his time for prayer, but soon they were looking for him – Luke says it was the crowds searching for Jesus, because they want him to stay with them. Wouldn’t it be nice to keep Jesus always by your side, always in your village? Oh, we can do that as well! He IS always with us! That is part of what Advent is about – Emanuel, God with us! But back to the story – the people of Capernaum did not know that; they just knew that he had healed everyone who was sick the night before, and perhaps, having such a celebrity in their town would bring business, tourists who wanted to see the miracle worker.
But Jesus was about more than working miracles – and they were losing the point; he was about proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God! And he tells them that he must go and proclaim this word to the other cities also. This was the purpose for which he was sent! Healing the sick, making the lame to walk, and the blind to see – these were signs of who he was, not side-show tricks to charm the crowd! He had work to do. And so, he traveled around Galilee, and Judea (some ancient manuscripts read Galilee and some Judea here), proclaiming the message of the Kingdom of God!
This is a transitional paragraph for Luke; he has finished the one story, of Jesus teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum, and healing the sick at Simon’s house. Luke transitions to the next story by telling of how Jesus left Capernaum. But notice – the stories are in the order in which Luke chose to present them, not necessarily chronological, for the story now goes to the calling of the disciples, including Peter, which would necessarily have happened before they went to Peter’s house. (Mark tells it in that order.) We study Scripture based on what the writer before us is saying, and the way he chooses to tell his story. Luke wanted us to see the beginning of Jesus’ ministry – his rejection at Nazareth, contrasted to his overwhelming success in Capernaum. From there he goes on to preach and teach across the region.
The photo is more of the ruins at Capernaum – the little basalt rock homes.