17 “‘We played the pipe for you,
and you did not dance;
we sang a dirge,
and you did not mourn.’
18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ 19 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ But wisdom is proved right by her deeds.” Matthew 11:16-19
Jesus compares the people He is talking to to spoiled children. John was one extreme. Jesus the other. Neither one of them affected them. The people just called them names and dismissed them both.
They were hardened by pride. They didn't want to change. They were quick to explain away the miracles. They were quick to condemn anyone who challenged them with a new way of life. They were incredibly blessed. They had everything, but they hardened their hearts!
20 Then Jesus began to denounce the towns in which most of his miracles had been performed, because they did not repent. 21 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. 22 But I tell you, it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you. 23 And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted to the heavens? No, you will go down to Hades.[a] For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Sodom, it would have remained to this day. 24 But I tell you that it will be more bearable for Sodom on the day of judgment than for you.” Matthew 11:20-24
Chorazin and Bethsaida had been blessed with generations of teaching -- God's holy teaching. They knew the prophecies. They knew scripture.
Tyre and Sidon -- pagan cities, godless.
The former had it. They were given much but gave nothing.
Ninevah and Jonah -- Ninevah was the capital of the Assyrian Empire! Totally so far from God. But Ninevah repented when faced with the truth.
Capernaum -- so blessed! It was:
-- Jesus' home during His ministry.
-- Had the Oldest synagogue (so worship of God had been going on a long time there).
-- Largest city in the area, located on the Roman road which led to Damascus.
-- A lot of trade, prosperous.
-- Where Peter, Andrew and Matthew were called by Jesus.
-- Where several miracles occurred:
healing of the centurion's servant
Peter's mother-in-law healing
Paralyzed man healed
Girl raised from the dead
Woman with the bleeding issue.
Everyone in the town would have known about these miracles. The crowd followed Jesus to see what He would do -- for entertainment, but not to be His followers.Not to accept His message.
These towns were blessed towns. And they were falling into judgment. They were economically successful; had all the teaching and prophecy; Jesus' presence; and great communication. And judgment was coming because they had it all but never believed.
When there is a large group of people (think a big urban area):
-- communication increases and we start thinking highly of ourselves. We begin to get hardened to God. We get arrogant.
Does this all sound familiar?
Look at our country. We have incredible access to knowledge. We have everything we need here in the USA. We have peace. We've never been invaded by a foreign country. We have been blessed by God from the beginning.
The more comfortable we are, the harder our hearts get (if we don't examine them).
How can we not fall under the same judgment Capernaum, Chorazin and Bethsaida did?
We're asking for the judgment! We have had every possible blessing and we have turned away. This is not just a historical story but it is an example of what will happen to us. God is speaking to us all. We serve a Risen Savior. He won't be mocked.
It's all about the heart!
The only thing I can give God is my heart, my life.
3 Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. 4 As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. 5 Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. 6 But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants." Matthew 13:3-7
Put this parable into context of us, the church.
Sometimes we might be the path -- a well-beaten path, established routine of religious practices, no room for growth. This path can be a church ritual that means nothing. You must commit to Him. Where is the church?
The Rocky Soil: Shallow, no real depth, surface knowledge. Do we fall under this category? There's no discipleship for these people; no commitment. You take what Jesus did, but not what He says.
He didn't come to heal the blind, raise the dead. He did it out of compassion. His main mission was and is our salvation. He told us what we needed to know. They had the knowledge and tried to stifle it. They don't want God. They just want their life the way they want their life. We have hardened our hearts to the truth and reality of Jesus Christ.
Thorns -- distractions, personal idols, baggage that we won't set down; white noise. We love our distractions. We love our entertainment and politics and fashion and whatever else we hold up as an idol in God's place. We are meant to bring the kingdom of God here. We are meant to be the solution (not part of the problem).
The path, the rocky soil and the thorns are choices. We can be different than that. We can be Good Soil. Instead, are we choosing to reject Jesus and His way?
Where am I personally?
Be honest. Be vulnerable. Judge yourself objectively. Examine yourself to see if you are in the faith. Figure out where you and get right with Jesus.
The hope that is Jesus:
25 At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. 26 Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do." Matthew 11:25-26
Jesus came quietly, humbly, simply. Jesus came as a common man. Nothing remarkable except for what He said and did.
Love and Redemption are available to the uncomfortable and the pride-less.
27 “All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.
28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:27-30
If you know you need Him, You can have Him. Find your worth in Jesus and nothing else.
God wanted to keep it simple. He opened the way. Just step onto the right path.
Are you tired of what's going on in the world? Are you burdened? Are you weary? Exhausted? Go to Jesus. Go to Jesus now.
8 Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. 9 Whoever has ears, let them hear.” Matthew 13:8-9
Can Jesus' love root take hold in you? Whoever has ears let them hear....
Spiritual ears -- ask for spiritual ears to hear Him.
There is no place in my life Jesus shouldn't be present.