Faith of Jesus Daily Devotional - Day 45
Matthew:11:20-24 Woe on Unrepentant Cities
Previous Context: devotion:Matthew:11:1-19 Jesus and John the Baptist
What is God doing?
"Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done"
The Father has had Jesus set up His home base or hub in Capernaum so to speak, Chorazin and Bethsaida are close by within a few miles. It is the home of Phillip, Andrew and Peter, possibly James and John. Though they are always traveling great distances outward for long periods of time, they seem to make it a point to return here. As a result, several miracles have been performed attesting to Jesus being the Messiah. Jesus had gone to that area in particular in fulfillment of the "great light" prophecy of Isaiah devotion:Matthew:4:12-17 .
"It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you"
Tyre and Sidon are two former Phoenician port cities to the north both with a long history with Israel good and bad. Baal worship is believed to have been brought into Israel long ago from there for instance but so too was donated the supplies for building King David's home palace. These cities being Gentile strongholds are identified by Jesus as places better off on Judgment Day than the Jewish towns where Jesus did more of His obediences than any other place.
"If the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day"
You will recall that it was hard to find but seven persons righteous in all of Sodom. The Sodomites were at Lot's door step demanding that they be able to sodomize the angels sent there to judge the city. Not many cities have a sexual perversity named after them. Many cities have been judged by God in the past, many including these three that Jesus is currently upbraiding have come to complete ruin never again to exist. Only two cities have ever been judged more severely Sodom and Gomorrah. As wicked and deserving of judgment as Sodom itself was, there was a better chance of them repenting and accepting the works of Jesus as messiah than there is in this tri-city hub.
Lets think on those works now, what these people have seen first hand and most frequently and thus should have repented because of. In this gospel devotion Jesus had just asked John the Baptist to consider the same:
Not one person that has come or has been brought to Jesus has not been healed or released, this regardless of how much or how little they believed, how much or how little their caregivers believed, freely they had received. Not only did Jesus do this, but He miraculously gave the same power to twelve of His disciples and they did the same even despite the harsh treatment they received from the cities. Not only that, Jesus at several points along the way has fulfilled long standing prophecy going back even into His childhood and infancy before He could even speak a word. Wise men from the east have come to worship Him and Herods have sought to destroy Him and villages have cried out for the loss of their young because of who He was perceived even then to be. Prophets have declared Him on the Temple steps and at the Jordan, shepherds have given accounts. He has taught with an authority like no others, intense light has been focus by Him on the misdeeds and misinterpretations of the ruling religious class. He has performed things never seen before. He has calmed a tempest by His rebuke. The people have long awaited such a fulfillment of God's promise. The time table given by Prophet Daniel suggest this time and place. Even the Holy Spirit has descended upon Him and the voice of the Father heard acknowledging Him. What other proofs should the people need?
"It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee"
Early on God chose to make a point to nation Israel before it was a nation that would be remembered throughout, the story passed down from generation to generation. It is a story of God's judgment. As horrific as that old judgment was, it appears not to be the final judgment, the final judgment is more complete than even that. Sodom was judged then for their sin great as that sin was (the Lord could hear the cries of it calling out to heaven), what is a much greater sin however is having seen Jesus in the flesh like no other city before or since and having it mean little if any effect.
What is man doing?
"They repented not"
Quoted resource: strongs 'G3340'
They thought no different having seen Christ than before they had seen Him. They still saw their lives and their hearts and their salvation in the same way. Jesus had just stopped by to tidy up all this unpleasant affliction and everything, make living in this city a little bit better; just so we could go back and live the way we really desired to live this. They have corrupted what purpose God has for sending Jesus and what purpose God has had in choosing these people to show that purpose through to the rest of the nation and nations. I guess that there is no need nor urgency to repent when there is no fear of judgment for what they are not properly doing and what they are doing instead. What they are doing is worse than anything ever done in Sodom.
Note that Jesus has never pointed directly to any one sin, not as we would think sin to be, He has pointed to something much more defiled. See we consider sin on the scale of personal acts such as cheating or temper or stealing or giving false witness etc... While these things are manifestations of sin, sin goes much deeper to the very heart of the matter: our image of ourselves in relation to our image of God. In order to keep our selves at such a high image we have to bring God's rightful image down to something closer to our level else vanquish it all together; that is how we get to remain who we think that we are. It is that image that must be changed.
We have all been called to repent, to reconsider, to think of things much differently, to live lives as changed/redeemed/forgiven/exposed/liberated/delivered as from darkness into light/born again. And more than any personal vice or vain deception we have been asked to reconsider one very fundamental thing that logically will turn around everything else in our lives, our recognition and acknowledgement of who God actually is and what God is actually doing. This involves God as HE has revealed HIMSELF to be, not God as we want/make HIM to be; a very important distinction. Yet all too often there appears literally to be no change, no redirection, no substantive alteration. We change some poor habits, we get ourselves out of some disparaging situations, we make ourselves to be better versions of our original selves. If that is all it ever becomes, then that my friends is not repentance, that is continued self indulgence.
What does this passage tell us about the about the commands and faith of Jesus that saints are to keep/guard?
Not only is it true in our own personal walk with Jesus Christ (let's call that out patient keeping of the commandments and faith of Jesus), it is true of what fruit grows out from us, in how we affect other people that true repentance is key. A bad tree cannot produce good fruit, bad fruit is unrepentant fruit which is a continuance of rot no matter how it does or does not manifest itself. John the Baptist once preached of a fruit meat for repentance. Now we may think that we are repentant as it comes to our physical manifestations of sin such as anger or lust or promiscuity or addiction or such, but yet not repentant of our corrupted image of God (images - they all are to some respect) and our relation to that, then the root system that we are tapped into is not the abiding vine of Christ, it is the invasive creeping vine of this world.
It is not just for the individual to be of this ongoing repentance, it is of the congregation that acts as a body of salt upon this corrupt world, a city on a hill not hid. It is about not wasting the better revelation of Christ to which we have been blessed to the sticky mud of the common everyday ways of going about.
Next: devotion:Matthew:11:25-30 Rest for the Weary