Woes Upon the Privileged Part 2
by John Lowe
(Laurens SC, USA)
But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you. (Matthew 11:22)
Here are some of the great truths expressed in these words of Our Lord:
1. Everyone that hears the Gospel is either wonderfully blessed or left more wretched than before. For the word of God will not return void, but will always have an impact.
2. The miracles that Jesus did were done for the purpose of leading men to repentance because they demonstrated that He had the power to force them to repent (which He never did.).
3. Even among those men who stand condemned at the judgment, there is a difference, and the punishment will be more dreadful for some than for others.
4. That God takes into account our opportunities before He measures our guiltiness and sets our judgment.
We are not told what they are, but it is plain to see, from God’s word, that there are degrees of punishment, that depends upon our exposure to the Gospel. That is proof to me, that man has a “free will” to accept or reject the Gospel. It is not the terribleness of our sin, which decides our fate; it is that we reject Christ.
This verse begins with, “But I say unto you.” What Christ says, can be depended upon to come true, because He will make it so.
He said, “It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you.” Christ will mete out different degrees of judgment because some sins are worse than others. Those who have heard the Gospel will suffer more because they will be conscious of the reality, that they could have escaped punishment if they would have believed. Jesus said that part of what He had come to do was to make men aware of their sin:
• “Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth.” (John 9:41)
• “If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloke for their sin.” (John 15:22)
As soon as you come to faith in Christ, you recognize that you are a sinner, and that none of your sins are unknown to God, and that you need a Savior. There is sufficient evidence of God’s grace, coming through His son, that men should believe, and for that reason, God has said that we are without excuse. Now is the time to ask for mercy from God, because none will receive mercy on the Day of Judgment; only justice.
And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. (Matthew 11:23)
Capernaum was a city on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, which at that time was home to 30,000, including Jesus, Peter, and Andrew.
Capernaum was the most privileged city on all the earth because Christ made His home there. There were many lectures on grace given by Him there, and more miracles were done there than in any other city. They received the Gospel like it was daily bread; for that reason, they had a great advantage for the pursuit of heaven.
He told them that they “shalt be brought down to hell:” Hell, or as it is called in some translations, “Hades”, means the abode of the dead. Christ is saying that because of God’s displeasure, Capernaum will be utterly destroyed. In less than 30 years, the Romans smashed that city, and in so doing, proving the certainty of His predictions. Sin not only destroys individuals; it destroys cities and nations.
Jesus states here, that if He had done the same miracles in Sodom that he had done in Capernaum, even though the Sodomites were as bad as they were that they would have repented and their city would have remained today as a monument to God’s saving mercy. Where there is true repentance through Christ, even the greatest sin will be pardoned and the greatest ruin prevented, and Sodom is no exception. It must be a forewarning to the people of this era, that on the great day of judgment, our punishment will be greater than what will fall to Capernaum, because we are greater debtors than they are, for we have received more of the Gospel, we have more of the word of God, and today the Holy Spirit prepares the hearts of men to receive the Gospel.
But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee. (Matthew 11:24)
Remember, He is speaking to the inhabitants of Capernaum.
Sodom had been destroyed, nearly 2000 years earlier, but its people were still awaiting judgment because He was speaking of the future eternal judgment of God. Therefore, we can see that
worldly punishment doesn’t satisfy God’s vengeance. In the present day, we can see the accuracy of Christ’s words confirmed by fact, because even though both Sodom and Capernaum were destroyed, the ruins of Sodom remain until today, however, nothing has been found of the city of Capernaum. We can see in this verse;
1. The people of Sodom and Capernaum are still alive, in the spiritual realm.
2. There will be a future judgment, where all men, good and bad, will stand before Our Lord.
At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. (Matthew 11:25)
When He said, “I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth,” I believe that in this prayer to His Father, that He looked up into heaven, as it is reported that He had done before. He was not discouraged by His rejection by Capernaum, where He gave out the Gospel and performed miracles more than in any other city; and allegations made against John the Baptist and Him by the religious leaders, calling one a glutton and friend of sinners and the other a man possessed by a demon. It is at this time, when most men would be disheartened, that He gives thanks to God. In like manner, we should be grateful to our Heavenly Father, even more, when we suffer, knowing that because He is our Father, that He will deliver us from our problems, and be merciful to us if it is His will. We should note also, that Jesus calls His Father “Lord of heaven and earth”. He is sovereign, and His will, will be done, and we should always give Him respect and praise.
He thanked God, “because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent,” The wise and prudent are the Pharisees and Scribes, who have considerable learning, and they are proud of what they have accomplished, and they crave the praise and admiration of other men, more than they desire to obey God. God does not affect their minds so that He prevents their understanding, He just leaves them to their own understanding, and to go their own way, because men without God will always choose to do evil. It is true that God has not used great men to give out the Gospel, but He chose simple fishermen and publicans, who were poor or despicable. The Bible has this to say about the people of God:
• But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise, and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;” (1 Corinthians 1:27)
• “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marveled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.” (Acts 4:13)
• “For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.” (1 Corinthians 1:21)
If you are a child of God, then you know that you did not come to Him, by your own merit, but that you were saved by grace, and that He has been merciful to you by saving your soul.
He went on to say, “and hast revealed them unto babes”; but He is not speaking of children, or of persons who are depending on their own abilities and goodness to gain entrance into God’s fellowship. The Holy Spirit works in the hearts and minds of men, who recognize that they are sinners and that they need a Savior. If you have been saved, you cannot brag, you can only thank Him for revealing Himself to you. The salvation of a sinner is the work of Christ. He did the work when He hung on the cross. His death was payment, for the debt of sin that each one of us owes. His miracles, His resurrection, and even His rejection, by fulfilling scripture, are proof, that He was God, and that He has the power to save us and to keep us.
Finally, our only hope of living the Christian life, in this world, is due to the support of the Holy Spirit, who comes to live in the heart of every believer. We are told in Colossians 1:12-14, “Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:” Our part of Salvation is to believe the Gospel-That Jesus was the Son of God, that He died to pay our debt of sin, and that he rose from the dead and is in heaven today. Christ takes care of all the rest.