Matthew 11:20-24 (ESV)
20 Then he began to denounce the cities where most of his mighty works had been done, because they did not repent. 21 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. 22 But I tell you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you. 23 And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You will be brought down to Hades. For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. 24 But I tell you that it will be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom than for you.”
Jesus pronounced judgment on Chorazin and Bethsaida, the cities that witnessed some of his most significant healing miracles. He verified the message he preached with great signs and wonders, performing them right in the midst of the people in these towns, yet they did not put their trust in him. He added Capernaum, his hub of ministry, to the list too. The residents there would go down to the depths in judgment because they refused to respond to his message. Interestingly, Jesus also announced that some of the most notoriously wicked Gentile cities, Tyre and Sidon, along with Sodom, would have repented if he had done his works among them instead. This truth made the condemnation pronounced upon those who rejected his testimony even more severe. When Jesus performed a miracle, he wasn’t looking for awe and astonishment like a magician, but instead he longed for people to repent (v. 21). The residents of Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum never took to heart the intended effect of Jesus’ miracles. God was present with them, but they didn’t turn from their sinful ways.
Jesus called for people to stop living for themselves and instead live for the glory of God. He didn’t come so that people would simply feel sad and sorry about their sins. He came so that people might be reconciled to God through a genuine relationship with him. We may think, “If God would answer my one prayer, then I would really start living for Jesus,” or “If God would only do this or that, then I would give my life over to him.” But that thinking is foolish. Let’s not remain numb to what we know God wants us to do by turning a deaf ear to the voice of the Lord. Respond to the Holy Spirit’s conviction today. Just as Jesus worked in the midst of these ancient cities, he is still working and deeply desires men and women everywhere to repent. With all that we have been privy to on this side of the cross, there’s no excuse for us if we do not get our lives right with Jesus. Stop seeking more signs from God and choose instead to turn your life over to him fully today. And if you already belong to him, then no matter how crazy your day gets, rejoice in knowing that you will never ever experience the wrath of God.