Then Jesus began to denounce the towns in which most of his miracles had been performed, because they did not repent. “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I tell you, it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted to the heavens? No, you will go down to Hades or 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” (Matthew 11:20-24).
Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum: What had they done to deserve such reproach? What had they done to earn such a curse?
Nothing. They’d done nothing. And that was the point. In the words of the old King James, “…they repented not” (11:20).
Our great grand-daddy of Presbyterians, John Calvin, in his commentary on the Gospel of Matthew, named their indifference was the sin of ingratitude. It was, he wrote, “As if there had never been poured upon it a drop of Divine grace.” The punishment would be greater “in proportion to the higher favors which it had received from God” (https://www.ccel.org/study/Matt_11:22-11:24).
Simply put, the miracles dazzled their eyes, but didn’t change their hearts. Jesus wasn’t a Messiah to them; he was a magician, nothing more. Their hearts weren’t changed. They didn’t turn their lives around. That’s what “repent” means, after all. “To turn around.” To turn from the old and embrace the new. To turn from sin and choose virtue instead. To turn from death and rejoice in new life.
But, u-turns are hard to make some times…for lots of reasons. Even when you’ve had that heart stopping moment of God’s presence wrapped around you, [Read more…]