23 “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. 24 “Nevertheless I say to you that it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for you.” (Matt 11:23-24)
In the past, the reading of this passage has been accompanied either by a sense of the weight of the judgment being pronounced, or by a sort of self-righteous agreement with what Jesus is saying. Today it struck me differently. Sodom has become a symbol for us of perversion and wickedness, yet Jesus says that if he had come to them and done the same miracles there that He did at Capernaum, they would have repented! Now I see here the sovereignty, justice, and mercy of God.
When we read the story of Sodom and Gomorrah from Genesis 19, most of us will correctly conclude that they got what they deserved. Yet Jesus says here that He could have saved them. So, couldn’t He have done something to save them then? If not coming in person, couldn’t the Angels have accomplished similar wonders through the power of God and turned the city around? I suppose He could have, but He didn’t. He was under no obligation to do so. He was just in exacting punishment for their wickedness.
From this I am reminded of two things. God is under no obligation to extend to us mercy instead of judgment, but He has chosen mercy. And no one to whom He has chosen to show mercy is beyond His reach.