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Jesus and the Cities

By Richard Gunther

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Mat. 11:20-24

Jesus castigated the cities in terms which would have made anyone other than him sound like they had totally lost their temper! But the righteous anger of Godís son had full justification. He was the miracle-worker, fully qualified to speak with all authority, yet the people would not listen.

Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum are compared by Jesus with Tyre, Sidon and Sodom - all cities which God destroyed for their sins. Also see Luke 10:13 - 15 and Mat.l5:21.

What kind of prior witness did these cities receive?

They are called "the cities where MOST of his mighty works were done".

1. Jesus went to work in the coasts of Tyre and Sidon, where he met a woman who was a Syrophoenician - Mark 7:24.

2. A great multitude came from about Tyre and Sidon when Jesus was beginning His work - Mark 3:7,8, Luke 6:17. The multitudes who returned would have spread the word about him, but apparently there was no substantial repentance in Tyre, Sidon, or Chorazin, Bethsaida or Capernaum despite the incredible witness of Godís own Son!

Jesus must have given each city a clear message and warning, because he upbraids them severely. It would be unfair for Him to expect repentance without a reasonable opportunity beforehand. Here, in Matthew, the words sound too severe to our soft Western ears, but scripturally, it was God's love and mercy which sent them His Son, when they really deserved NOTHING at all.

How arrogant Man is! As C.S.Lewis puts it, Man has put God in the dock, whereas the reality is the other way round. Man in his foolishness thinks he can sit in judgment on God. These proud, stubborn cities decided that Jesus was not to be listened to. They refused to acknowledge the evidence which Jesus presented to them. Jesus responded in the only way he had left - as the Judge of Man.

Why were Sodom and the other four cities destroyed?

1. Gen. 13:13 "The men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the Lord exceedingly".

2. Gen. 18:20 "Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous".

3. Gen. 18:32 If there had been only 10 righteous in Sodom, God would have spared it.

4. Ez. 16:49 "Behold this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom: pride, fullness of bread, and abundance of idleness . . . neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy . . . they were haughty, and committed abominations before Me".

5. Jude 7 They "gave themselves over to fornication, and they indulged in unnatural vices and sexual pleasures, breaking through the bounds which God had set.

Footnote: "giving themselves over". In the Greek/English Inter-linear the phrase is "having given themselves to fornication". The word "fornication" = Greek: ekpomeuo = an intensive form of 'pomeuo'. Ekpomeuo means "excessive indulgence".

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