Tasters from the King's Table

The disgrace of Capernaum

The Lord had barely started His ministry when he left Nazareth and moved to the neighbouring city of Capernaum. There He established a base for His activity.

Capernaum was the city where He spent the most time. Its streets saw Him pass through many a time, worn out by a tiring journey or renewed by a deserved rest. For the neighbours in the city, the face of Jesus was familiar and His miracles became a daily affair, so much so that they no longer surprised anybody.

Capernaum was honoured to the highest degree more than any other city before or after. For that reason the Lord said, “you are raised up to heaven” (Matt 11:23)

However the phrase of the Lord doesn’t end there: “to Hades you will descend”. From one extreme of exaltation it goes down to the other extreme of degradation. From the highest peak to the most frightening abyss. Why?

The Lord Himself gives us the answer, : “because if the miracles had occurred in Sodom which occurred in you, it would have remained to this day”. Capernaum had a blessing which Sodom did not have; but it also has a responsibility which Sodom didn’t receive.

The responsibility is proportional to the honor. And Capernaum was not faithful to the honor that was conferred upon it . The miracles of Jesus there had no effect on the heart. They showed that Abraham was right, in the story of the rich man and Lazarus , when he said : " If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded , though one should rise from the dead" (Luke 16:31). Miracles can not operate in the heart any more than persuasion by the Word of God.

Jesus concludes: "Therefore I tell you, on the day of judgment it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom than for you." The end is terrifying and sobering. What will remain of the honor conferred upon Capernaum ? Just a cloud of smoke, a witness of the just judgment of God.

But the fate of Sodom should not frighten us as much as as our own if we do not believe the Son of God. How shall we escape, if on top of the words of the Lord that will judge us on that day , the example of Capernaum should also count against us?

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