Today we will visit Capernaum and Bethsaida. Jesus concentrated His ministry along the north shore of the Sea of Galilee near these two cities, both of which appear frequently in the Gospels. Matthew refers to Capernaum as Jesus’ “own city” (Matt. 9:1). Jesus lived in Capernaum for a time and called His first disciples from the villagers and fishermen nearby (Matt. 4:12–22; Mark 1:16–20; Luke 5:1–11). Located on the north end of the Sea of Galilee about three miles east of Capernaum, Bethsaida played a key role in Jesus’ Galilean ministry. Three of Jesus’ disciples—Peter, Andrew, and Philip—came from Bethsaida (John 1:44; 12:21). Jesus performed a healing miracle in Bethsaida (Mark 8:22–26) and fed the hungry multitude of five thousand nearby (Luke 9:10).

The stubborn, prideful hearts of the citizens rejected His teaching. Matthew 11:21-23 gives us Jesus response to these two cities. It says, “Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I tell you, it will be more bearable on the Day of Judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you. 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.”

All that remains at both sites are ruins. They remind me of Shelley’s poem, “Ozymandias.” It reads as follows: I met a traveller from an antique land, Who said: “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand, Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command Tell that its sculptor well those passions read Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things, The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed. And on the pedestal these words appear: `My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings: Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!’ Nothing beside remains. Round the decay Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare, The lone and level sands stretch far away”.

“And he went down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee. And he was teaching them on the Sabbath, and they were astonished at his teaching, for his word possessed authority.” Luke 4:31-32