The folly of rejecting Christ
Matthew 11 v20-24
During His earthly ministry the Lord Jesus Christ was one who often used illustrations of one kind or another to reinforce His truth. Remember how he tells of the rejoicing shepherd who found his lost sheep .With such words He taught how there is joy in heaven when a person repents of their sin. Recall in the Sermon on the Mount how He used salt to show the effect that the life of Gods people should have on society. As salt purifies, so the good testimony of a Christian will restrain others from sin. Think of his interview with Nicodemeus, when He used the wind to show what it means to be born again of the spirit of God. Just as God sends the wind, so it is through God sending the Holy Spirit that people are born again.
And then in our bible reading today Christ uses three different cities to highlight the folly and consequences of all who die in their sin rejecting Christ as saviour. The cities that he mentions are Tyre Sidon & Sodom and He uses them to warn the people in Chorazin, Bethsaida, & Capernaum about their folly & ruin in rejecting Him as Saviour Matthew 11 v 20- 24 says, "Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not: 21 Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, 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 unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgement, than for you. 23 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. 24 But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgement, than for thee.
And just as the people of Chorazin, Bethsaida & Capernaum were to face God's judgement because they would not repent of their sin nor receive Christ as Saviour. So it is still the same today for all who do likewise this because God is one who changes not. Therefore it for this most solemn of reason that I want to you to think at these cities that were to face Gods judgement. In doing so I trust if you are still not saved that you will be wise and flee to Christ for the salvation of your soul He alone can save you from the wrath to come.
As you think then about Christ's warning to the cites of Chroazin, Bethsaida & Capernanum note-
1 .The Privileges of these Cities.
V20, "Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done,
The people in these cities had privilege of witnessing the mighty acts & preaching of Christ. Bethsaida & Chorazin were on the edge of the sea of Galilee an area where the most of Christ's public ministry took place. In v23 Christ says, "And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven," Capernaum was graced with the Lords ministry as well. Here Christ healed the centurion's servant, the nobleman's son and the sick of the palsy was healed as well. Here Christ proclaimed in John 6 v's 35& 47, " I am the bread of life,…and he that beliveth on me hath everlasting life."
Such privileges remind us of the privileges that many in Ulster has enjoyed over the years.
And I wonder are the people of these 3 cities a picture of you who are still unsaved. You have often heard the Gospel,- of your need to be saved, -of your need to repent of your sin, -of your need to get right with God & trust Christ as your saviour. Your ears have frequently heard the word of John 3 v3, " Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." The hymn writer says, " there is a story sweet to hear I love to tell it too, it tells me God the son came down from glory's throne to die, that I might live to wear a crown & reign with him on high. "Just as the hymn writer knew this message, so you also know it well. Like the people in these 3 cities your are familiar with the Gospel.
But not only have you heard Gods word, like the people of Chorazin, Bethsaida, & Capernaum, you have witnessed the Lords power at work in the lives of others.
The bible says in 2 Corinthians 5 v17, "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." When the Lord saves a person there is a change in that life for Good. Likewise you have known someone who has got saved, with your own eyes you have witnessed a change in their life by the grace of God.
Also, you have heard the testimony of others Christians telling how Christ made a difference in their life. If these are things that you have witness, seen & heard in your unsaved state then your privileges are just like those in the cites of Bethsaida, Chorazin, & Capernaum. "
2. The Pride of these cities.
At the end of v20 Christ says, "..and they repented not" In v21 Christ says to the people of Chorazin & 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. In v23 he says the same to Capernaum, "for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.
From such words we see how the people of these cities did not repent of their sin, nor did they seek Christ for salvation. despite all the privileges they enjoyed. And their failure to get right with God shows the pride that was in their hearts. Verse 23 says that Capernaum was a city that was , "exalted ."
Such was their pride they reused to turn from their sin. .As such they were now guilty of the worst sin of all that of rejecting Christ as their saviour.
In the verses that we have read Christ compares the people of Bethsaida, Chroazin & Capernaum with the people of Tyre, Sidon & Sodom. Now the cities of Tyre, Sidon & Capernaum were heathen cities. The people there were given over to gross wickedness, immorality & idolatry. Yet Christ says, that if those people had the same mercies & privileges as Capernaum, Chorazin & Bethsaida, they would have repented long ago. They would have sought Christ. Yes the people of Tyre, Sidon & Sodom were sinful.
But the sin of Chorazin, Bethsaida & Capernum in rejecting Christ & the gospel was far worse in Gods sight. All sin is grievous to God, but the most grievous sin of all is that of rejecting Christ after having heard the gospel .
Notice how Matthew 11v20 begins, it says of Christ, " Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not:. "The word, "Upbraid is a very strong word. It means to revile someone very strongly, or to chide them with anger. Such was the pride of these cites in not repenting that they incurred divine wrath & displeasure. It has been said that "pride is the master sin of the devil." In the book of Proverbs we read of certain things that God hates and first on the list is pride in Proverbs 6 v17.
My friend let me warn you that your sin of rejecting Christ as saviour, and failing to repent of you sin after having heard the gospel is the same in Gods eyes as that of the pride of Bethsaida, Chorazin & Capernaum. And just as their rejection of Christ grieved God so your rejection of Christ as saviour is grieving to God as well. In Lk 10 v16, Christ says "…and he that despiseth me despiseth him that sent me." To despise Christ, is to despise God, His mercy, grace & love.
You may consider yourself to be moral, upright, clean living honest & a good neighbour that may be so.
But despite such outward character, by you continually refusing Christ as Saviour, you are putting yourself among the ranks of those who are the greatest of sinners in Gods sight. You are identifying yourself with the people of Capernaum, Chorazin & Bethsaida, people who despite having the best of privileges did not heed the Gospel and rejected Christ as their saviour.
3. The plight of these cities.
Rv 22, speaking to the people of bethsaida & Chorazin Christ says, "But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgement, than for you.
In v24 he says to the people of Capernaum, "But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgement, than for thee." In v23 he says, " and thou Capernaum shalt be brought down to hell." Notice how Christ begins v21 with the word, "Woe."
With these words he was telling the people of these 3 cities of the eternal misery and torment of hell that would befall them all because they shunned Christ as saviour & would not repent of their sin.
And this is the plight of all whoever they are who refuse Christ as saviour.
In Revelation 20 v12, 13 &15 it says" And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God;…v13 and they were judged every man according to their works. V15 …And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire. If you meet God on the judgement day unrepentant, not knowing Christ as your saviour, this is the awful plight you will face
But notice in Matthew 11 v22 & 24 how Christ said it would be more tolerable for Tyre, Sidon & Sodom than for the people of Bethsaida, Chorazin & Capernaum,
Here Christ was telling them that the punishment in hell of the sinner will be according to their privileges in life. The greater a persons light & privilege the more severe their punishment in hell will be.
Should you die in your sin, after hearing the gospel, & your need of Christ your punishment in hell will be far worse than those who have not had the same light as you. This is the awful prospect that awaits you should you die in your sin.
However this need not be so, if you will repent of your sin and trust in the lord Jesus Christ for salvation.
John 3 v16, 17, 18, &36. Says ,"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: v36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life:
Through confessing your sin to Christ, and trusting in him as Saviour, all your sins can be forgiven, you can be sure of everlasting life in heaven. This is what God offers to you in salvation. This is all because His Son came to this world, and died upon the cross of Calvary and rose again from the dead.
On the cross he died an atoning death for our sin. Isaiah 53 v5 says, "But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; … "
And by that once for all sacrifice for sin he satisfied divine justice and opened up a way for you & I to be saved. If you are to avail yourself of this so great salvation hen you must come by faith to Christ as a repentant sinner and trust in Him alone to save.
The story is told about a young man who was studying law and God was dealing with him about his need of salvation. Early one morning he began to think of the future and as he thought of the future he began to ask himself certain questions.
He asked the question what are you going to do when you finish your course? He answered practice law.
Then what? Get rich. Then what? Retire.. Then what ? Die. Then what ? The judgement. The Bible says in Hebrews 9v27, "And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgement:…"
As he thought of the awful reality of facing Gods judgement in his sin. He realised his great need of Christ and that day he sought Christ and was gloriously saved & made his peace with God.
You may not practise law, you may not get rich, you may not even be spared until retirement but one thing is sure you will die and after death comes judgement. If you are to sure of heaven when you come to die then heed the warning of scripture & flee to Christ for salvation. In Matthew 11 v28 Christ says, "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." He is the only one who can give you true rest & peace for time & eternity. Will you not come now to Christ & be saved? Amen.