March 22, 2022 – Tuesday
Matthew 11:20-21 NIV
20 Then Jesus began to denounce the towns in which most of his miracles had been performed, because they did not repent.
21 “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.
I have never looked at these two verses in detail before. In my reading today I was surprised by the word denounce as in other versions it reads upbraid, rebuke, berate, and insult while Strong’s gives us in addition to denounce, reproach and revile.
To put it mildly Jesus was upset and we don’t have to wonder why as He tells us, because they did not repent. As a result, He pronounced woes upon them, especially Chorazin, a small town, and Bethsaida, large enough to be called a city. If you are not sure what woe means, a few versions simply say, How terrible it will be for you or How horrible it will be for you or What sorrow awaits you and one even says Doom to you. I mention all of these to impress upon you how terrible it is to have a woe pronounced upon you by anyone, but especially Jesus.
Jesus even goes on to say if He had performed His miracles in two known sinful cities, Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. In other words, there would have been no doubt about their repentance when they repented.
But He was not done. In the following three verses there is a terrible condemnation for Chorazin and Bethsaida, 22 But I tell you, it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you. 23 And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted to the heavens? No, you will go down to Hades [Hell]. For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Sodom, it would have remained to this day. 24 But I tell you that it will be more bearable for Sodom on the day of judgment than for you. Their condemnation will be greater than that of Sodom!
The NIV First Century Study Bible makes the interesting observation, The curses were not abstract but were about people who should have repented. Most of Jesus’ direct condemnation was directed toward the religious, not the “sinners.” Looking at prior chapters many sinners did repent, but none of the religious leaders, the Pharisees. They even accused Jesus of being in league with Satan when they said in 9:34, It is by the prince of demons that he drives out demons. Heal a person and make him whole and all they could do is accuse Him of being in league with Satan.
I wonder then what all of this means for us and all the generations that followed in the past two centuries? One commentary said, Not only does Jesus condemn the wicked, but also the indifferent, insisting that greater opportunity for belief calls for greater condemnation for rejecting Him. How many today are indifferent and rejecting Him? The rejection assures them of one thing, a clear path to Hell.
Bottom Line: Jesus personally makes it clear how important repentance is in these few verses. We would do well to listen and to share with others.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, Thank You for preserving Your Word so we can clearly know the importance of repentance when calling upon Jesus as our Lord and Savior. – In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
Riley D. Driver – Pastor
Calvary Chapel of Dayton