From Matthew Chapter 11:
20 Then He began to denounce the cities in which most of His miracles were done, because they did not repent. 21 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles had occurred in Tyre and Sidon which occurred in you, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. 22 Nevertheless 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, will not be exalted to heaven, will you? You will descend to Hades; for if the miracles had occurred in Sodom which occurred in you, it would have remained to this day. 24 Nevertheless I say to you that it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for you.”
Jesus confronts His audience by denouncing entire cities – He is not the Jesus of cotton- candy theology, of feel-good religion, of “what’s in it for me” preaching – He says, “Woe to you! You are following me because you are fed, you are following me because you want to see the miracle show, you are following me because you think there is something in this for you without surrender to Me – but you haven’t got it, you haven’t seen it, you haven’t repented.
“I’ve been among you, I’ve taught, I’ve fed you with loaves and fishes, I’ve healed, and I’ve delivered you from the devil – but you haven’t repented. You may talk about the heathen of Tyre and Sidon, you may talk about their idolatry, you may talk about the times they’ve faced the judgment of God, and you may think that you are so much better than they are – after all you are Israelites.
“And yes, you may look back to Sodom and talk about the gross wickedness of that city, and when you compare yourselves to Sodom you may think, ‘We are so much better. Fire and brimstone will never fall on us. We haven’t sunk to the abyss of debauchery that Sodom did.’
“Ah, but to whom much is given much is required. If Tyre and Sidon and Sodom, and so many others, had seen and heard what you’ve seen and heard they would have repented long long ago. So let me tell you something that you will not believe – it will be better for Sodom and Sidon and Tyre than for you on the day of judgement – for you have great light and they have had little light.”
It is a dangerous thing to judge by appearances. To all appearances Sodom would deserve harsher judgment than Capernaum – yet Capernaum will descend to Hades. Sodom looks worse than Capernaum – to the natural eye. Perhaps the people of Capernaum thought that because Jesus used their town as a base of operations that they were righteous, that they were better than others. How could their town possibly descend to Hades?
When we judge by appearances we place our own evaluation on things, when we judge by appearances we often make ourselves the benchmark of evaluation, when we judge by appearances we nearly always make ourselves look better than we are. When we judge by appearances we often take pride in ourselves and we disparage others.
During the past few centuries few nations have had the light of the Gospel as the United States of America and its predecessor English colonies. But what now? It has codified repudiation of the image of God, it has codified repudiation the sanctity of life, and much of the professing church within its land has traded the Cross for the dollar and for political agendas.
Tyre and Sidon and Sodom would have perhaps repented had they had what we have had.
Our hope is in Matthew 11:25 – 30; let the great and powerful and fear mongers do what they will – if we will humble ourselves and take the yoke of Jesus Christ we will find rest in a world of turmoil.