To Whom Much Is Given
November 7, 2020
And you, Capernaum, will not be exalted to heaven, will you? You will descend to Hades; for if the miracles had occurred in Sodom which occurred in you, it would have remained to this day. Nevertheless I say to you that it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for you (Matthew 11:23-24).
What sets Capernaum apart from Chorazin and Bethsaida? Why didn’t Jesus include this town with the other two in v. 21? Look back at Matthew 7:21-23, Not everyone who says to Me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?” And then I will declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.”
On the day of judgment there will be people who will make their case with the Lord Jesus Christ that they preached and taught in His name, they healed people in His name, and they demonstrated superhuman power in His name. But they never knew Jesus personally and He never knew them personally. They were not involved in God’s will.
Chorazin is mentioned twice in the Gospels. There is no record of Jesus doing anything there for the sake of the Kingdom. In Bethsaida Jesus did minister, but only briefly and with no results save that Peter, Andrew, and Philip came from that town. Both towns were indifferent to Jesus.
Capernaum, on the other hand, was the home-base for Jesus’ ministry in Galilee. For three years Jesus frequented Galilee and stayed in Capernaum, probably in Peter’s home. Jesus did many powerful works in Capernaum. He healed untold numbers of people including Peter’s mother-in-law. So why would Jesus pronounce ‘woe’ upon the city? For the same reason He declared ‘woe’ on Chorazin and Bethsaida - indifference, apathy, unconcern for the Kingdom of heaven.
Jesus was popular in Capernaum, but His popularity was temporal and superficial. People flocked to Jesus for what He could do for them or provide for them. Their concern was not for salvation, not for repentance of sin, not for preparing for the coming Kingdom of God. It was in Capernaum that Jesus taught the people the key principles of salvation (see John 6). As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore (John 6:66). And this was early in His ministry. No wonder they would receive the greater condemnation.
“Father, we are a privileged nation, having had the gospel of Jesus Christ with us from the very beginning. Your presence is noted in our Constitution, in our laws, and was once the center of our culture. But today our leaders are writing You out of our public consciousness. Forgive us Lord, for I know the ‘woes’ of Jesus upon Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum will surely befall us if there is no repentance of sin and returning to You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”