He said, “And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You will be brought down to Hades. For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I tell you that it will be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom than for you.” Matthew 11:23-24
J.C. Ryle observes the lesson we need to heed from Capernaum:
No city in Israel appears to have enjoyed so much of our Lord’s presence during His earthly ministry as did Capernaum. It was the place He dwelt after He left Nazareth. It was the place where many of His miracles were worked and many of His sermons were delivered. But nothing that Jesus said or did seems to have had any effect on the hearts of the inhabitants. They were amazed. They were astonished. They were filled with wonder at His mighty works. But they were not converted…And they drew the heaviest condemnation that Jesus ever pronounced against any place, except Jerusalem…
We are all to ready to suppose that it only takes powerful preaching of the Gospel to convert people’s souls, and that if the Gospel is only brought into a place everybody must believe. We forget the amazing power of unbelief, and the depth of man’s hatred for God. We forget that the Capernites heard the most faultless preaching and saw it confirmed by the most surprising miracles and yet remained dead in trespasses and sins. We need reminding that the same Gospel which is the savor of life to some is the savor of death to others (2 Corinthians 2:16) and that the same fire which softens the wax will harden the clay. Nothing, in fact, seems to harden man’s heart so much, as to hear the Gospel regularly and yet deliberately prefer the service of sin and the world. Never was there a people so highly favored as the people of Capernaum and never was there a people who appear to have become so hard.
Let us beware of walking in their steps…”from hardness of heart, Good Lord, deliver us.” (Taken from Expository Thoughts of Mark, p. 27-28.)
Sometimes, the people furthest away from Christ are those in the pews every Sunday.