Sometimes things really are as simple as they seem. This will certainly be true in this PODCAST, as we discuss together one of Jesus’ most remarkable statements.
Matthew 11:20-24 (NKJV)
20 Then He began to rebuke the cities in which 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 which were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. 22 But I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for you. 23 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. 24 But I say to you that it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment than for you.”
We could use a whole series of words to describe what Jesus said, all of which begin with the letter “S.”
His message was surprising, as Jesus will say something that sounds totally out of character for Him.
His message was sobering, as His words contain a warning that, as you will hear, went completely unnoticed.
His message was simple; in fact, you could boil down all that He said in this powerful passage to one simple word. One word that truly is the Gospel in miniature.
Leave it to Jesus to take what we make so complicated and turn it into something so simple.
You see, this entire passage hinges on one particular phrase: “…they did not repent.”
If we look to the Old Testament story of Jonah, we see him (eventually) deliver God’s message to the wretched town of Nineveh, and the Ninevites completely repenting and turning from their ways. A dramatic behavioral change, indeed! They turned from their evil ways, turned to God, and their society lasted another 150 years.
Then, if we look at Jesus’ parable of the Prodigal Son, we see a young man who turned away from his father, but then “came to his senses”, repented and came back home to his father with a changed heart and changed behavior.
And what is God’s response to those who repent? Just like in the parable, He runs home, throws his arms around them, and welcomes them home to His kingdom.
You see, repentance is the coin of God’s realm.
And its value is immeasurable.
We, however, tend to add so many pieces to the puzzle on how to find favor with God and be welcomed into His family.
If only we could adhere more closely to the words of John the Baptist:
In those days there appeared John the Baptist, preaching in the Wilderness (Desert) of Judea
2 And saying, Repent (think differently; change your mind, regretting your sins and changing your conduct), for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
Or, consider Jesus’ words from Matthew 4:17
17 From that time Jesus began to preach, crying out, Repent (change your mind for the better, heartily amend your ways, with abhorrence of your past sins), for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
You see, Jesus’ message to the cities of Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum should resonate in the hearts of all of us today: repent now, because destruction is coming for those who refuse to choose to think differently, change their minds for the better, regret their sins and change their conduct.
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