Then He began to rebuke the cities in which most of His mighty works had been done, because they did not repent: “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for you. And you, Capernaum, who are exalted to heaven, will be brought down to Hades; for if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I say to you that it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment than for you.” — Matthew 11:20-24 NKJV
Men, Jesus closes vs19 saying “wisdom is justified by her children”. Another translation says “wisdom is vindicated by her deeds”. In other words, the wise have not refused John or Jesus, but have come to repentance. From there, Jesus rebukes the cities of Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum. He tells the multitude that it will be better for the towns of Tyre, Sidon, and Sodom which were known as wicked places that had been judged by God. Each of these towns and the deeds done in them routinely could warrant a deeper look.
In general, Jesus has performed a number of miracles in the rebuked towns, but He was not acknowledged and the people did not repent. Jesus says that if those same deeds had been done in those cities which had long ago been judged they would’ve repented in sackcloth. Not so for the cities Jesus has personally visited and Jesus is disgusted with their hardness. Tyre, Sidon, and Sodom had all disobeyed God’s law and Word and they were punished. These current 3 cities have witnessed the Word made flesh, dwelling among them and have refused all opportunities to be made right.
When Jesus said “Woe to you (the rebuked cities) He was declaring a warning to them. These cities have had greater opportunity to come to salvation but refused. How much opportunity have our cities and nation had? If we are judged incrementally by the opportunities granted, how bad will it be for our cities and people? What judgment awaits our own lands? Move forward men, acknowledge the truth granted to us and believe Him. Don’t miss an opportunity to repent and turn even the smallest, most private things over to His hand. The evidence is sufficient for our acceptance of His Word.
How will we be known, to history and to heaven? Decide well.
And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force. Mathew 11:12, NKJV
Men, Jesus is still speaking to a multitude about John when He makes a statement we don’t often think about. “From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force.” The kingdom of heaven had and still has deep opposition. Jesus’ legal line was almost severed by Joseph who didn’t believe Mary’s story. Herod then ordered all male children under the age of two slaughtered, hoping to wipe out Jesus.
Things go quiet for a while until Jesus begins His formal ministry. There is growing opposition. John is often viewed as a lunatic, and is now imprisoned. The spiritual enemies of God are working out a deep physical resistance to the kingdom coming to men on earth. Hostility is increasing and both John and Jesus know it. The kingdom, Jesus says, is advanced through hostility and opposition, and in spite of it.
If John and Jesus experienced suffering as they advanced the kingdom then we certainly will too. Violent people will take the kingdom away by force. Remember, until “it is finished” the kingdom is Jesus Himself. We know that He and John both will later be killed by violent men. Thankfully, God our Father is not caught off guard by the schemes of the enemy. His perfect plan was carried out and kingdom is available through Christ’s atonement and the Holy Spirits indwelling. Deeper relationship with the Spirit brings broader access to the kingdom.
But the enemy does NOT want that happening. We make it easy for him by submitting to our own fleshly desires. Pride of life, pride of flesh, and lust all work against the kingdom until ultimately, the enemy will attack your life.
So be it men, move forward. Surrender life to the Kingdom. Die to the flesh and walk in His Spirit. Don’t fear the death of men, but fear the One who can kill both body and soul. Confess Christ in hostility and be counted among the faithful. Hostility against the Kingdom is not over, but our Lord goes before us, when we follow His lead.