Jesus spoke in parables to drive home some principle about the spiritual meaning of life; he also uses some forms of speech, the meaning of which may not be immediately apparent. Luke 10 has some good examples. He did many miracles in Capernaum and other cities and challenges them, “If the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon they would have repented long ago” (verse 13).
Capernaum had seen many miracles, but these did not spark repentance! They pursued Christ for mass feeding of loaves and fishes, and the Master lamented, “you are seeking me … because you ate the fill of the loaves” (John 6:26). This attitude leads Jesus to say, “… you Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You shall be brought down to Hades” (Luke 10:15). The city experienced seeing heavenly powers, they marvelled, yet it did not affect them personally. They did not seek to understand his teaching but they got really excited about his miracles.
The ‘reward’ of Capernaum for this failure would be by going “down to Hades”. That’s “Hell” in the old AV Bible, the grave, in many modern versions. And Capernaum was buried for about 1,800 years – until archaeologists uncovered its ruins; so Jesus words were fulfilled, it was “brought down to Hades”. In Luke 12 Jesus makes a significant point, “Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required” (verse 48). The people of Capernaum failed on this important principle. Can we fail in this way today? God’s word is readily available to us all, but are we taking any notice of it?
Jesus’ disciples are sent out on a preaching and healing mission and when they return Jesus says, “I saw Satan like lightning fall from heaven” (10:18). This is not to be understood literally. These words mean that the enemies of Jesus, those seeking his destruction, were “disarmed” by the demonstrations of heaven’s power and these self-important priests and lawyers lost their position as heaven’s representatives. In chapter 11 Jesus ridicules their attempts to deny his heavenly powers (verses 15-23) and ends by saying, “Whoever is not with me is against me”. We can take no neutral position when it comes to our personal relationship with Jesus. It is vital we all remember that!