Matthew 11 Part 2

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Unrepentant Cities

Matthew 11:20–24 ESV
20 Then he began to denounce the cities where most of his mighty works had been done, because they did not repent. 21 “Woe to you, Chorazin! 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. 22 But I tell you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you. 23 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. 24 But I tell you that it will be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom than for you.”
Pay attention - there are three Galilean cities (Capernaum, Chorazin and Bethsaida) where Jesus mentions performing “mighty works” - many miracles - a great amount/time in ministry. Yet here we find him denouncing, reviling, being harshly critical of the cities of Capernaum, Chorazin and Bethsaida because they DID NOT REPENT.
Had Jesus done his due diligence to present the Gospel Message to the people? Had Jesus lived a righteous life as an example to these people? Had Jesus given them an opportunity to turn from their sinful lifestyle? Of course, so what is the problem? Look back to:
Matthew 11:16 ESV
16 “But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to their playmates,
They simply did not want to hear His message. Like children, choosing to ignore their parents request. The generation is contrary, mindless, playful. They are fault-finders who cannot be pleased. They find fault with whatever is suggested. They just cannot accept and be pleased with anything that puts restrictions upon their loose play.
Doesn’t that sound like us today? I want what I want, and nobody else can tell me I need anything differently. They want no one giving them advice, direction, criticism, anything. And, personally, that’s what I believe happens when we raise a generation of “everyone gets an award” children. When they get older they think they deserve something for nothing.
Because of their lack of repentance, Jesus condemns them and judgment is given.
Woe to you Chorazin, Woe to you, Bethsaida!
They were privileged to have the gospel available. They had the presence of Christ, of believers and of the gospel. Such exposure condemns a person if he does not respond. Why? Because he has the opportunity to know Christ.
They refused to repent. A person who continues to live as he wills and refuses to turn to God condemns himself. God demands repentance.
They ignored and neglected Christ. Even in Jesus’ day, most people paid no attention to Him. Note: judgment is to be based not only upon doing wrong but upon not doing right. Just sitting around doing nothing [no gross or public sin] does not free a person from judgment. God expects commitment and diligence in serving Christ.
The degree of judgment for the two cities is to be greater than for most. The judgment upon the two cities will be much greater than for Tyre and Sidon. Tyre and Sidon never had the opportunity of Christ’s ministry. Chorazin and Bethsaida did, and they neglected and rejected Christ. Therefore, their judgment shall be much more severe.
Note the level of judgment passed on the most privileged city, Capernaum. It is to be even greater than the judgment upon Sodom. Why? Because it was the very center of the Lord’s ministry and the people still neglected and rejected Christ.
What should we take away from these verses? There is coming a day of judgment, and there will be degrees of judgment. Severe judgment will fall upon all who have had the opportunity to receive Christ but did not.
Our eternal state is determined by our response to Jesus Christ, and our state cannot be altered. The doom of Tyre and Sidon could not be altered, neither could the doom of Sodom. Their doom was set, having been determined while they were on earth. But note: Sodom will answer for much in the day of judgment but not for having neglected Christ. How much greater shall our judgment be because we have neglected and rejected Christ!
God forgives sin no matter how terrible. The sins of Sodom would have been forgiven if the people had repented. Judgment can be averted and escaped by repentance of sin.
Matthew 11:25–27 ESV
25 At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; 26 yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. 27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.
These nations were blind to God’s truth, His will and purpose, and they were blind to the Messiah. When Christ mentions “these things” He is speaking to the truth that the cities missed! You see, true wisdom does NOT come from us. It doesn’t matter how intellectual we are or how many degrees we hold we still are not wise UNTIL we recognize our need for a Savior. Spiritual truth is hidden in God. God has done the logical thing. He has taken spiritual truth and locked it up in Himself. The only access to truth is to come to Him. The only key to spiritual truth is faith and trust in God.
It is reasonable. The man who considers himself wise and intelligent and sufficient enough without God never comes to God. Therefore, a personal relationship with God is never known. The man does not come to know God nor the spiritual truth hid in God. Ro. 1:18–22
Romans 1:18–22 ESV
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools,
God and His presence and His plan for the ages are foreign to the self-sufficient man. The wise just do not believe God, not enough to come to Him. Therefore, the things of the Spirit and of the gospel are hid from him. But God’s heart and truths are open to the person who comes in dependency and trust.
What Christ condemns is not intelligence and wisdom but intellectual pride and self-sufficiency. God made man to think, reason, seek, and search in order to discover and build. But God expects man not to think of himself too highly.
Romans 12:3 ESV
3 For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.
Philippians 2:3–4 ESV
3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
A person is to walk humbly during their short stay on earth, knowing from whom they have come and to whom they are going. We simply are to trust God, and put our time and destiny in God’s hands.
By resting in our own wisdom, God is helpless in revealing the truth.
Matthew 11:28–30 ESV
28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Christ paints two pictures in this passage. One picture is of extreme weariness. This is the person who has gone as far as he can; he can go no farther—he cannot take another step. The other picture is of extreme pressure. This is the person who is about to explode; he cannot take anymore. Christ does not say what caused the weariness or pressure (heavy burdens). It does not matter, for His invitation is open to all. It is a simple invitation, requiring so little and offering so much.
The first great invitation to this generation is “Come unto me.” Who is to come? The weary and the burdened—the person who is laboring, heavy laden, exhausted, despairing, weighed down, ready to stop and collapse.
What causes us to become weary? (work, the world, sin, guilt, money/material possessions, notoriety, power, rules, regulations, etc.)
Listen to me closely here. Not knowing the truth of life is one of the major causes of exhaustion. Searching for truth but never coming to the truth discourages, exasperates, exhausts, and burdens us. It causes us to whip ourselves in conscience, and it leaves us empty, uncertain, and insecure about the future.
Why should the weary and the heavy laden come to Christ? Very simply, Christ will give them rest. Christ will give rest to the struggling and despairing soul and to the empty and lonely soul—no matter how intense the struggle and despair or the emptiness and loneliness.
The answer to rest is coming to Jesus Christ. Rest is available, but we have to come to Jesus Christ in order to receive the rest of God.
Note the difference between the two rests promised by Jesus Christ. They are the two greatest rests imaginable. First, there is the rest of salvation or justification. This is the rest of deliverance from the slavery and bondage of sin, the power of Christ to conquer the enslaving habits that damage the human body and destroy the human soul. It is the rest of conscience that comes to a person’s soul when he ceases his struggle in the wilderness of sin. It is the rest of conquest and triumph which a person experiences when he conquers the enemies of sin and evil through the power of Christ—day by day. It is the rest of victory through the daily storms of life. Second, there is the rest of sanctification or of pleasure and satisfaction, of confidence and completeness. The rest is not a rest of inactivity, of no work, of an endless slumber, of the right to laziness. It is a rest of refreshment: a rest of refreshing one’s body, mind, and spirit. It is a rest that fits one for life: a rest that infuses a person with true purpose, meaning, and significance. It is a rest of encouragement and motivation of soul: a rest that stirs a person to live and undertake his God-given task with enthusiasm and vigor and endurance.
The second great invitation to this generation is, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me.”
Why should a person take up the yoke of Christ? Why should a person begin to learn of Christ? Christ was meek and lowly, considerate and understanding, mild and gentle, longsuffering and encouraging to every person who came to Him. We will find rest. Christ’s yoke is easy; His burden is light (v. 30). The “yoke” refers to an oxen’s yoke. The yoke was a wooden collar-like instrument placed on the neck and shoulders of the oxen. It was used for tying the ropes of a plough to the oxen or for tying whatever load he had to pull. It was extremely important that the yoke be fitted for the shoulders of the oxen to prevent rubbing the flesh raw and causing sores. At first the oxen might have rebelled against the yoke, but he soon learned that it eased the burden of pulling. The yoke refers to a man’s life and task while on earth.
The word easy (chrestos) can also mean well-fitting. Christ is saying that His yoke, His life and task, are fitted to a person. It is just what a person needs, and it is easy, the easiest life and task the person could live and undertake.
What are the conditions for finding this rest? There is only one condition. A person must simply take Christ’s yoke and begin to learn of Him. This simply means that we are to learn how to live and labor under His leadership, direction, guidance, and care.
Every man has his yoke, that is, his life to live and his task to do while on earth. From birth, he learns from others how to live and how to do his task. Some teachers are hard taskmasters, and most courses in life lead to exhaustion and living under heavy burdens. The only taskmaster who can teach and assure true rest (of body, mind, and spirit) is Christ, and the only yoke that really fits and proves to be easy is the yoke or life and task of Christ.
Leadership Ministries Worldwide. (2004). The Gospel according to Matthew: Chapters 1:1–16:12 (Vol. 1, pp. 267–268). Leadership Ministries Worldwide.
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