The Jesus Generation was ...
1. Never Satisfied (verses 16-19).
2. Never Repentant (verses 20-24).
In recent weeks, we have seen Jesus describe Himself as the Expected One (verses 2-6). We have seen Jesus describe John as the Greatest One (verses 7-15). This morning, we will see Jesus describe His own generation (verses 16-24). I am entitling my message this morning, "The Jesus Generation." I get this from verse 16, when Jesus asks, "To what shall I compare this generation?" Jesus will give us a glimpse of his generation. And it isn't a good one. Here is what Jesus said, ...
"But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the market places, who call out to the other children, and say, 'We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.' For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, 'He has a demon!' The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, 'Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax-gatherers and sinners!' Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds."
Then He began to reproach the cities in which most of His miracles were done, because they did not repent. "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. Nevertheless I say to you, it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment, than for you. And you, Capernaum, will not be exalted to heaven, will you? You shall descend to Hades; for if the miracles had occurred in Sodom which occurred in you, it would have remained to this day. Nevertheless I say to you that it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for you."
Jesus will give two characteristics of His generation (which is
also similar to ours). The generation of Jesus' day was ...
1. Never Satisfied (verses 16-19).
In verse 16, Jesus said, "To what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the market places, who call out to the other children, and say, 'We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.'" Jesus compares His generation to children who were playing in the streets, who aren't quite getting along very well with each other. One child would suggest a game, but some of the children always objected to what was suggested, and refused to play. If the game was joyful and called for dancing, some of the children would refuse to dance. If the game was sorrowful and called for mourning, these same children refused to mourn.
Several commentators (Charles Spurgeon and John MacArthur) describe these games as "wedding" and "funeral." Imagine a young, Jewish child saying to his friends, "Hey, let's play wedding. Let's pretend that Titus and Rebecca are going to be married! Ezekiel, you can be the Rabbi. Hezekiah, you can be the groomsman. Hannah, we'll let you be the bridesmaid. After the wedding, we'll pull out our flutes and dance like the grown-ups do!" Then response from some of the children was, "No, we don't want to play wedding." Perhaps the child might suggest another game, "Okay, let's play funeral. Let's pretend that Titus died. He can sit in this box real still. Hannah, you can pretend to be the widow. I'll be the Rabbi. Rebecca and Hezekiah, you can be the mourners. Be sure to wail real loud." Another response would come, "No, we don't want to play this game, either." It didn't matter what game was played, some children simply didn't want to play at all.
I've seen this many times. One child wants to play one game, but the other wants to play another game. Constant friction develops as they complain and argue and bicker about the game they want to play. In our house, the tension was between playing chess and Legos. I remember going through this type of thing myself. I remember a long, long time ago, when I was a little boy, we used to play baseball outside almost every day in the summertime. (It wasn't really baseball. Rather, it was a form of baseball. We used tennis balls and wiffle ball bats.) In order to get enough players, we would often go to our friends houses to see if they were available to play. For the most part, our friends would quickly be able to tell us whether or not they were able to play with us. If they couldn't play, there was usually some good excuse:
- "I'm going to the dentist this morning."
- "My mom says that I have to help her clean the basement."
- "I have to mow the lawn."
- "We're going on vacation tomorrow, and I don't have time today."
But I remember one of our friends, who would often say, "I don't want to play," but wouldn't give a legitimate reason. More often than not, we would find him in the basement, where it was nice and cool. He would often be sitting on his bean bag chair, watching television. This was his preference. Rather than running around in the heat with the boys, he would prefer to sip his lemonade in front of the television set. I remember on many occasions trying to persuade him to come and play baseball with us. I used every argument that I could think of:
- "C'mon, Baseball is more fun than cartoons."
- "I'll tell you what. We'll only play for 30 minutes."
- "You think that it is too hot outside? You can bring your lemonade!"
- "Do you realize that we only have 5 players. How can you make two teams with 5 players? We need a sixth to make even teams. We need you."
- "Let's make a deal, if you come out and play today, I won't bother you tomorrow."
Sometimes he would come and play, but often he would refuse to give in to my persuasion. Such a refusal to play is like the generation that Jesus faced (and sadly, it is like our own.).
In verses 18 and 19, Jesus explains His parable. He said, "For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, 'He has a demon!' The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, 'Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax-gatherers and sinners!'"
The ministry of John the Baptist and the ministry of Jesus were quite different. John chose to abstain from many earthly pleasures. He lived in the wilderness, where it was dry and hot and rough. He restricted his diet, eating locusts and wild honey (Matt. 3:4). He probably drank no wine either. He dressed in rough clothes: a garment of camel's hair (Matt. 3:4). The word we would use today to describe him is an "ascetic." He was like a monk in a monastery, who willingly inflicts punishment upon his body as a display of humility and repentance. John the Baptist was "singing a dirge" (verse 17).
Jesus, on the other hand, enjoyed many earthly pleasures. He lived in Galilee, where the weather is like Hawaii. The Pharisees and Sadducees thought that He was too loose with his Sabbath-keeping, as he picked grain and healed on the Sabbath, which were "no-no's" in the eyes of the Pharisees. His diet wasn't so restrictive, like John's was. He didn't fast regularly as the religious leaders thought necessary for genuine piety. Jesus replied that you don't fast at a wedding when the bridegroom was around. Jesus was "playing the flute" (verse 17).
Yet, the generation in which Jesus lived wasn't satisfied with either of their ministries. When evaluating John's ministry, they thought him to be a ranting, raving madman. They claimed that he had a demon (verse 18). They put John in the same category as the uncontrollable demoniacs, who lived in Gadera (Matthew 8:28-34). They thought him to be crazy and out of touch. When evaluating Jesus' ministry, they thought him to live too loosely. Because he didn't fast, they went to the extreme of calling Him a glutton and a drunkard. Because he had compassion upon the downcast of society, He was called, "a friend of tax-gathers and sinners," which was a great insult in Jesus' day -- something which the Sadducees and Pharisees would never dream of being. They thought that John didn't eat enough and that Jesus ate too much!
At the end of verse 19, Jesus said, "Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds." Some Bible translations say, "Yet wisdom is vindicated by her children," which is parallel to Luke 7:35. Either way, I don't believe that it makes much of a difference in meaning. Jesus said that they both would be vindicated. Their actions would vindicate them. Those who believe would vindicate them. Though they were scandalized in their day. Time would demonstrate them to be true and real. Those of Jesus' day should have known better! They should have perceived John to be the forerunner. They should have understood Jesus to be their Messiah. If they had been wise, they would have understood.
But, to these people, it didn't matter that they were sent from God. They were never satisfied. We will see this demonstrated in a few weeks when we arive in Matthew 12. Jesus heals a man with a withered hand (Matt. 12:9-14) and the people were outraged. They didn't deny the miracle. But, they found fault with the fact that Jesus healed on the Sabbath! They were professional religious complainers.
There are people like this in the church, who will never be satisfied with anybody. We call them fault-finders. They are overly critical at every type of fault they find in anybody. In Jesus' day people found fault with the rigidly religious John, because he was too religious for them. They found fault with the gracious lover of souls, Jesus, because he was accused of being too loose in His living.
In our day, people will visit a church, and will criticize anything and
everything. They will criticize the music that is played.
- If the music is too loud, they criticize.
- If the music is too quiet, they criticize.
- If there are drums, they criticize.
- If there are guitars, they criticize.
- If there is a bass guitar, they criticize.
- If there aren't any hymns, they criticize.
- If there aren't any choruses, they criticize.
They will criticize churches...
- If the church isn't loving, they criticize.
- If the church's doctrine doesn't match up 100% with their doctrine, they criticize.
- If the church serves communion every Sunday, they criticize.
- If the church doesn't serve communion every Sunday, they criticize.
- If the church doesn't have a Sunday evening service, they criticize.
- If everybody wears suits and ties to church, they criticize.
- If people dress too informally, they criticize.
They will criticize the preacher...
- If the sermon is too long, they criticize.
- If the sermon is too short, they criticize.
- If there are too many stories, they criticize.
- If there aren't enough stories, they criticize.
- If there is one sentence spoken that they disagree with, they criticize.
- I have a pastor friend of mine who was criticized for smiling too much.
You may think that these are far out, but I have heard every single one of these complaints expressed.
Are you like that? When you come to Rock Valley Bible Church, do you dismiss the message we are proclaiming, because of some fault in your eyes with the church service, or with me, or with those who attend? Let me tell you, you will find fault in me. I am far from perfect. I haven't arrived. I am a sinner, like all of you. If those who lived in Jesus' day found fault with Jesus, you will easily find fault with me. I simply ask you to be gracious with me, as I trust you have found me to be patient and forgiving with you.
There will be others in this body with whom you will find fault. I simply
exhort you with the words of Paul, "be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving
each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you" (Eph. 4:32). When you think of
somebody, do you first think of their problems and things that rub you the wrong way?
Or do you think of what you can commend in them? Let me warn you: If you foster a
critical spirit, you will find yourself disappointed in everybody and every church you
Charles Spurgeon said, "If we will not hear one preacher, we may soon find ourselves quite weary of a second and a third, and before long it may come to pass that we cannot hear any minister to profit" (Matthew Commentary, p. 139).
The generation of Jesus' day found fault with two of the greatest men that ever lived: John the Baptist and Jesus. Both of these men were sent from God. Both of these men came with the same message to proclaim: "repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matt. 3:2; 4:17). Both of these men were rejected by their generation and eventually killed.
Let me ask you, "Are you satisfied with the ministry of John the Baptist and the ministry of Jesus Christ?" John's ministry (as we saw last week) was to point to Jesus and say that "He is the One we have been expecting!" Do you believe that? Do you believe that Jesus is the Messiah, who came to redeem His people?
Jesus' ministry was "to seek and to save that which was lost" (Luke 19:10). When Jesus took on flesh and blood, Jesus came to be with sinners. "The word became flesh and dwelt among us [i.e. sinful people]" (John 1:14). He, Himself, said, "I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners" (Matt. 9:13). This is why He ate with them and reached out to them and went to be with them (Matt. 9:11). He didn't wait for sinners to change their ways and then come to Him. Rather, Jesus was actively pursuing rebellious sinners. He came to teach these sinners of the love of a heavenly Father, that would graciously receive back a son who demanded his inheritance and went off to a distant land to waste it in sinful living (Luke 15:11-31).
Jesus demonstrated His compassion upon sinners -- the downcasts of society. Against all cultural norms of the day, He spoke graciously with an adulteress, Samaritan woman (John 4:9). Against all ceremonial laws of the day, He touched and healed a leper (Matt. 8:3). He visited homes of the most despised of men like Zaccheus, a chief tax-gatherer, who was considered a traitor of the Jews and an outcast of society (Luke 19:5). He healed the wild, uncontrollable, demon-possessed men, of Gadera (Matt. 8:28-34). He healed the lame (Matt. 9:6), the blind (Matt. 9:28), and the deaf (Matt. 9:32). He was close to sinners, though never defiled by them.
He died for sinners. It wasn't when sinners changed their ways and made themselves good that Jesus died for them. Jesus didn't wait for them to clean up their act. On the contrary, we are told, "While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Rom. 5:8). We were reconciled to God by the death of Jesus "while we were enemies" (Rom. 5:10). It was while we had our fists ready to fight against, that He opened His arms of love and embraced us. This is the glory of the cross: It isn't for the noble or the wise or the strong! It is for the shameful and the despised (1 Cor. 1:26-28), who simply look to the cross and believe that Jesus' death satisfied God's righteousness requirements. The cross of Jesus Christ is the story of God's grace.
When I was a young boy, about ten years old, I used to wear a retainer in my mouth. It had a few false teeth on it, because several of my permanent teeth had been displaced by an infection when I way about eight years old. It was my custom to take it out while I ate, and put it back in again when I finished eating. I remember one time we were on vacation in northern Wisconsin. Our family had stopped at McDonalds for a bit to eat. As usual I had placed my retainer on my tray. Unfortunately, I proceeded to throw it away as we were leaving. We were about 20 miles down the road when I suddenly realized what had happened. I said, "Mom! Dad! I forgot my retainer on my tray at McDonalds." They turned around, went back to McDonalds and started rummaging through all of the garbage bags at McDonalds to "seek and save" my retainer, which was "lost." This is the story of the cross. There were lost people on the earth, who desperately needed saving. Jesus Christ went out of his way to come to earth, that He might rummage through the garbage and find and save lost souls of men.
Are you satisfied with Jesus and His ministry? It is a sad commentary of the state of the church in our generation that many people aren't satisfied with the ministry of John the Baptist and Jesus? Some churches refuse to believe John's testimony that Jesus is the only one who can save! Some churches refuse to be satisfied with Jesus' ministry. Many in the church today are looking for something more. Charismatic churches want bigger and better signs and wonders. Seeker sensitive churches want the latest methodology of church growth. There are scores of people who seek greater and greater preachers. Few people really find their satisfaction in the grace of God as demonstrated in the cross of Jesus Christ. But, do you realize, church family, that God has been satisfied in the ministry of Jesus. And you ought to be satisfied in Him as well.
If you are not satisfied with Jesus and His ministry on your behalf, you will be just like the generation of Jesus' day. The religious complaints that people had with these two men kept them from the truth of God. Sadly, there are many today who are like the generation of Jesus' day. They are never satisfied (verses 16-19).
Matthew gives us a second characteristic the generation of Jesus'
day. It was ...
2. Never Repentant (verses 20-24).
You can see this clearly in verse 20, which says, "Then He began to reproach the cities in which most of His miracles were done, because they did not repent." They heard Jesus. They knew Jesus. They saw Jesus. And they failed to respond to Jesus. They failed to see their sin. They failed to see their need of a savior.
Matthew tells us that Jesus "reproached" them. He "denounced" them (NIV). He "upbraided" them (KJV, MKJV). He "rebuked" them (NKJV). Jesus pronounced a "woe" upon them, "Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! ... And you, Capernaum, ... you shall descend to Hades" (verses 21, 23).
Jesus curses three cities: Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum. All of these cities were within several miles of each other. Capernaum was on the north western side of the sea of Galilee. Chorazin was 2 miles north of Capernaum. Bethsaida was several miles west (we don't know exactly where). According to verse 20, these were the primary cities in which Jesus performed His miracles. The gospels have recorded about 35 miracles of Jesus. I counted that half of these took place in the northern Galilee area. In addition to this, Matthew tells us, "And Jesus was going about all the cities and the villages, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every disease and every sickness" (Matthew 9:35). He also tells us, "And when evening had come, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed; and He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were ill" (Matthew 8:16). These took place in the region of these three cities. We have no idea the number of miracles that took place. There were many miracles of which we know nothing! But, Matthew gives us the sense that disease and sickness and demon-possession didn't exist in this region when Jesus was finished. Imagine what it would be like for everyone in Rockford to be disease free. Hospitals are empty. Doctors are putting out their resumes looking for jobs. This was life in northern Galilee during the time of Jesus. Furthermore, many of the miracles that Jesus did in these regions were precisely the signs that gave prove of that He was Messiah (according to Matt. 11:5-6).
Yet, the startling thing is that they didn't repent (verse 20). They
didn't believe the Scriptures, which prophesied exactly of Him.
They didn't believe Jesus' own teaching, in which He declared Himself to be the Son of God. They didn't believe His miracles.
And they were stunning miracles. Jesus healed the paralytic, who was lowered through the roof (Matt. 9:1-8; Mark 2:1-12). He raised Jairus' daughter from the dead (Matt. 9:18-19, 23-25). He instantly calmed a raging sea with a rebuke (Matt. 8:23-27). He healed several blind men (Matt. 9:27-31). He granted speech to several dumb, demon-possessed men (Matt. 9:32-34; 12:22-23). He healed the man with a withered hand (Matt. 12:9-14). He walked on water (Matt. 14:22-33). On several different occasions, He fed thousands of people by miraculously multiplying a few loaves of bread and a few fish (Matt. 14:13-21; 15:32-39). Jesus performed so many miraculous works that he appealed to the sort of testimony that they give to Him. On one occasion the Jews were ready to stone Him, but he appealed to His miracles. He said, "If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do them, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in Me, and I in the Father" (John 10:37-38).
In verse 21, Jesus put forth a hypothetical situation to demonstrate just how terrible it was for those in these cities to refuse to repent. He said, "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." For most of us, "Tyre and Sidon" doesn't mean anything. For those who heard Jesus speak that day, it did mean something. Tyre and Sidon were located on the Mediterranean Sea, northwest of Galilee. Tyre was about 30 miles away. Sidon was about 50 miles away. The prophets of Israel often spoke out against them (see Isaiah 23; Ezekiel 26-28) because of their wickedness. Isaiah devotes an entire chapter to how God will destroy Tyre and Sidon. Ezekiel devotes three chapters to explain their destruction. In the time of Jesus, they were notorious for their wickedness.
In thinking of a parallel for us, I was reminded of a conversation that I often have with people when I discuss my educational background. I say, "I went to college in Galesburg, Illinois, at Knox College." A very common response is for them to say, "Oh, so you went to the college of hard 'knocks'!" And then they laugh as if they were the only ones who had ever thought about saying such a thing. I normally smile as if it was a good joke. Then, I say, "I went to the Master's Seminary in Los Angeles." In almost every instance, I see their face get contorted and they say "That must have been an interesting place to study the Bible." Los Angeles has a reputation in our day for being a bastion of wickedness. So, if Jesus were addressing our lack of repentance, He would have said, "Woe to you, Rockford! Woe to you Belvidere! For if the preaching of the word had occurred in Los Angeles which occurred in you, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes."
Jesus' point is that Chorazin and Bethsaida have been greatly privileged in witnessing the works of Christ. There were no people in the world who were closer to the truth than the generation that lived at the time of Jesus. They were blessed with the Scriptures. Much of their lives were centered around the synagogues and the teaching of the Scriptures. They were looking for the fulfilment of the Scriptures. They saw the forerunner of whom Malachi spoke. The encountered the Messiah face to face. And yet, their hearts were hardened and they didn't repent! But, Jesus said that if he would take His miracles on a road show up to Tyre and Sidon, you would have had revival break out.
"Sackcloth and ashes" are symbolic of a deeply felt repentance. As we have read through the Bible this year with my family, we have seen on many occasions when people would be in great distress and would tear their clothes. My son (who is seven years old) has asked on several occasions why they did this. (I think that he is thinking of the trouble that he would get in if he tore his clothes). It has come up again and again and again. Each time, we often make a point of talking about it. Often the tearing of the clothes is associated with putting on sackcloth. Most recently, we read in Esther how Haman had issued a decree "to destroy, to kill, and to annihilate all the Jews, both young and old, women and children, in one day, the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month Adar, and to seize their possessions as plunder" (Esther 3:13). When Mordecai heard of the decree, we are told that "he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and ashes, and went out into the midst of the city and wailed loudly and bitterly" (Esther 4:1).
You say, "Well, Steve, this is purely for illustration. Surely such a thing would never really happen with a city like Tyre or Sidon or Los Angeles. They are too wicked for this." Have you heard the story about the wicked city Nineveh? When Jonah went to the that wicked city and preached that Nineveh would be overthrown in 40 days. We are told that "the people of Nineveh believed in God; and they called a fast and put on sackcloth from the greatest to the least of them" (Jonah 3:6). When the king heard of it, "He covered himself with sackcloth, and sat on the ashes" and issued a proclamation that the entire city (including the animals) were to fast and "call on God earnestly that each may turn from his wicked way and from the violence which is in his hands. Who knows, God may turn and relent, and withdraw His burning anger so that we shall not perish?" (Jonah 3:7-9). The entire city repented of their sin!
Could you imagine Los Angeles repenting? Shaquille O'Neal on his face in humility before God? Kobe Bryant on his knees? Shirley MacLaine in church? Steven Spielberg, confessing his sins? I believe that Jesus was speaking the truth here! If the number and quantity of miracles in the Galilean region took place in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented. When you begin to think about the reality of this for a little bit, you will come up with all sorts of questions in your mind. Many of them probably go along this line: "Why didn't Jesus go to Tyre and Sidon and do His miracles thing there, so that revival would break out and that God would be glorified? Why did He choose to leave them in an unrepentant (and hell-deserving) state? Why didn't He rescue them from hell?" (We will deal with those types of questions next week, beginning in verse 25). But here is the question I want you to deal with right now, "How have you responded to Jesus? How have you responded to the light you have received? (You simply need to read the words we sang today and you will realize the amount of light that you have received.) Does your life demonstrate Nineveh-like repentance? Or does your life demonstrate Chorazin-like resistance?"
As I think about the repentance of Nineveh, I am amazed...
- They were a wicked and despised city.
- They were a prosperous city, that thought itself to be self-sufficient.
- They had no promises from Nineveh that God would relent from bringing calamity from them.
- Their repentance was great!
As I think about Chorazin, I am amazed...
- They had a synagogue in their city (I know, because I visited its ruins). So, there was some familiarity with the Scriptures.
- They had a first-hand encounter with Jesus. They saw with their eyes.
- They heard Jesus teach them.
- The Sermon on the Mount (in Matthew 5-7) was delivered just up the street from Chorazin.
- The teaching of the kingdom (in Matthew 13) took place near Chorazin.
- But, their resistance was great.
How do you deal with your own sin before God? Do you brush it off and say, "Ahhh, it's not a big deal." Or is their anguish in your heart when you sin? Do you feel the weight of your offense before a holy God? Does it continue to break you and humble you and cry to Jesus for mercy and help?
This is a serious matter. In verse 22, Jesus said, "Nevertheless I say to you, it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for you." Jesus is saying that though Tyre and Sidon and Chorazin and Bethsaida all refused to repent, Chorazin and Bethsaida will face the worse punishment because they had the greatest opportunity to repent. After all, Jesus was there among them. Jesus taught them. Jesus performed His miracles in front of them.
God knows how much light everybody has seen and will judge everybody accordingly. Jesus once told a parable of a master who went away and left several slaves in charge of his matters. Jesus said, "And that slave who knew his master's will and did not get ready or act in accord with his will, shall receive many lashes, but the one who did not know it, and committed deeds worthy of a flogging, will receive but few. And from everyone who has been given much shall much be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more" (Luke 12:47-48). D. A. Carson said, "The implications for Western, English-speaking Christendom today are sobering" (Matthew Commentary, p. 273).
Last week I spoke about how the least in the kingdom is greater than John the Baptist, because we live on this side of the cross, and can identify Jesus more clearly than John the Baptist ever could. The same holds true for Jesus' warning statement in verse 22. Since we live on this side of the cross, every single one of you understand more of the mission of Jesus than anyone in Chorazin or Bethsaida did. Those who have heard the gospel of Jesus Christ today, have heard the truth even clearer than these people did. Church family, if you fail to repent, your punishment will be greater than that of Chorazin and Bethsaida. Jesus may rightly warn us, "It shall be more tolerable for Chorazin and Bethsaida in the day of judgment then for you, Rock Valley Bible Church, if you don't repent."
This is a serious matter! It is about eternal life and eternal death. It is about the degree of punishment that you may receive. In fact, if you continue to attend Rock Valley Bible Church and remain unrepentant, your future punishment is getting worse and worse, Sunday by Sunday. You would be better off for eternity not to come than to continually hear the light of the gospel and remain unrepentant. Now, the best thing for you for eternity would be that you would hear and repent. If you do, you will enjoy eternal happiness in heaven. I know of a godly man who passed away this week. When he parted with several of his Christian friends who had come to visit him on his deathbed, he said, "See you in heaven." It is a glorious place for you to look forward to. You simply need to be repentant of your sins.
Jesus demonstrates the weight of this matter by repeating in verses 23-24 the same thought as he did in verses 21-22. The names are slightly changed. There is a little extra tag about Capernaum, who "will not be exalted to heaven, will you? You shall descend to Hades." I believe that Jesus added this because He did more in Capernaum than he did in either of the other two cities that He mentioned. Jesus lived in Capernaum (Matt. 4:13) and made Capernaum the home base for his ministry.
To each of these cities, Jesus said, "Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest" (verse 28). Sorrowfully, Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum failed to take heed to the call. They simply needed to come to Jesus, and Jesus would have taken them into His arms, cleansed them, and spent eternity with them. Instead, they faced the wrath of God. Today, Chorazin is a heap of ruins. Today, Bethsaida is a heap of ruins. But nobody knows exactly where Bethsaida was. Capernaum also is a heap of ruins. Their ruins stand today as a testimony to how hard religious people can be!
Several of the men are reading David Brainerd's diary and journal together. In the reading for this week, David Brainerd wrote, "Discoursed upon the story of the young man in the gospel, Matthew 19:16-22. God made it a seasonable word, I am persuaded, to some souls. There were sundry persons of the Indians newly come here, who had frequently lived among Quakers. Being more civilized and conformed to English manners than the generality of the Indians, they had imbibed some of the Quakers' errors. ... These persons I have found much worse to deal with than those who are wholly under pagan darkness, who make no pretenses to knowledge in Christianity at all, nor have any self-righteous foundation to stand upon" (December 22, 1745). Religious people are often hard and unrepentant.
The good news of the gospel is that Jesus offers the same thing to our generation that He offered to the people of His own generation. You need not face a wrathful God. You simply need to come to Jesus by faith and find rest for your souls! Cry out to Him, "God, be merciful to me a sinner" (Luke 18:13).
The Jesus Generation was never satisfied (verses 16-19) and never repentant (verses 20-24). I pray that this would never be true of Rock Valley Bible Church. May we always be satisfied in Jesus' death and resurrection. May we always be repentant when we sin. Our hope is found in Christ alone!
This sermon was delivered to Rock Valley Bible Church on
June 29, 2003 by Steve Brandon.
For more information see www.rvbc.cc.