Why did Jesus hold the people in Capernaum accountable for rejecting him?
“And you, Capernaum will you be lifted up to the skies? No, you will go down to the depths. If the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Sodom, it would have remained to this day. But I tell you that it will be more bearable for Sodom on the day of judgment than for you. At that time Jesus said, ‘I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children.’” Matthew 11:23-25
Capernaum was favored above all other cities in the area since Jesus did most of his teaching and preaching there. Because the people heard the message of Jesus and his disciples, they were much more accountable for their actions than the Sodomites centuries earlier. Additionally, the people of Capernaum were Jews who knew right from wrong due to the Law of Moses. Because they had greater knowledge, they had greater responsibility for their actions. Therefore, their sin was greater and their punishment in the Day of Judgment will be in proportion to their past guilt.
In verse 25 Jesus thanks his Father for not allowing these worldly-wise ones to understand the spiritual message he was imparting. God wisely hides these things from all whose heart attitude is not in conformance to his dear Son. Obviously, the people of Capernaum had their Messiah in their midst teaching them and they were still spiritually unreceptive. Had they understood Jesus’ message and continued on their sinful path, their sin would have been even greater than it already was since they would be sinning against light.
Why would Jesus hold the people of Capernaum accountable for rejecting him if the truth was hidden from them? Jesus only held them accountable for their partial sin against the light they had through the Law of Moses. The complete truth about Jesus was mercifully hidden from them so that they would not be held accountable by sinning against that greater light. Jesus concludes that the truth about himself would only be revealed to “little children” (the honest-hearted, the unsophisticated, the meek and poor in spirit).
To learn more about how Jesus provided salvation for all including those who rejected him, listen to, “Are Jesus’ Ransom and Our Salvation the Same?”