Summary: God loves us, but we are not saved by His love; but by the death and resurrection of Christ, and by faith in Him. Jesus taught that faith and repentance are two sides of the coin, we call salvation.
Harmony of the Gospels
(21) Woes Upon the Privileged
Then the LORD rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD out of heaven; (Genesis 19:24)
God saw to it that Lot was safely inside Zoar, and then the rain came. Brimstone and fire fell from heaven, bringing total destruction to Sodom, Gomorrah and all of the cities of the plain. The day had dawned clear and bright, with no sign of the impending storm; then the storm came to demonstrate that it was not from natural causes. “Is not destruction to the wicked? and a strange punishment to the workers of iniquity?” (Job 31:3) The devastation was from Our Lord, to whom God had committed all judgment. “Upon the wicked he shall rain snares, fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest: this shall be the portion of their cup. (Psalms 11:6) He is our Savior, but He will also be the destroyer of all who reject Him. God had poured out His anger over all mankind by sending a flood; now He uses fire to annihilate the depraved people who lived in these cities. It was all wiped out-people, animals, vegetation, buildings; the destruction was total and absolute.
Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not: (Matthew 11:20)
“Then began he to upbraid the cities”-He had not spoken unkindly to these people, previous to this. At the outset, they received Him cheerfully, and He had made Capernaum His home. Since then, they had begun to ridicule both John and Himself.
Wisdom crieth without; she uttereth her voice in the streets:…..Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded;” (Proverbs 1:20,24)
“wherein most of his mighty works were done,”-He did more miracles in these cities, as well as his greatest miracles. “Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?” (Romans 2:4) In Capernaum alone, He healed the centurion’s servant, recovered Peter’s Wife’s mother from a fever, restored to health the man sick of the palsy, raised Jarius’ daughter from the dead, made well the woman who had a bloody issue, opened the eyes of two blind men, and expelled an evil spirit from a man possessed by one. He did all of these things, and more, in this one city, so He was just in admonishing them. What more did they expect the Messiah to do? The answer, not surprisingly, is that they expected Him to conform to their opinions, which arose from their own desires, not from the promises in God’s word. They sought after a deliverer, which would liberate them from the oppression of Rome and make their nation once again great; not one that had come humbly to save their souls.
“because they repented not:”-He came to save men, but men are not truly saved, unless they are, in fact, sorry for their sin. God loves us, but we are not saved by His love; but by the death and resurrection of Christ, and by faith in Him. Jesus taught that faith and repentance are two sides of the coin, we call salvation. Both will take place in the heart of a believer, but they may not happen at the same time, or in a specific order. That is because, faith in Jesus Christ leads us to see our great wickedness, and the man who understands he is a sinner is ripe to receive the Gospel. The ways in which men come to be saved, shows the great insight of God, for sending such a Great One as Christ.
Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. (Matthew 11:21)
“Woe unto thee, Chorazin!”-This city is not mentioned anywhere else in scripture, but it is believed to have been about twelve miles from Capernaum. The woe that is theirs is more pity than anger, since their disbelief, has caused them to miss everlasting blessings. It is Christ, who will bring both blessing and judgment; blessing to believers, and judgment and justice to unbelievers.
“woe unto thee, Bethsaida!”- Andrew and Peter lived in this city, which was a suburb of Capernaum, “Now Philip was of Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter.” (John 1:44)
“for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes”-He is saying that if the residents of Tyre and Sidon had received the benefits of Christ’s preaching, and of seeing the miracles which were done in Chorazin, they would have repented. These were two neighboring Gentile cities, situated on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. Later on, these two cities did receive the Gospel and became Christian cities, for we read, “And the next day we touched at Sidon. And Julius courteously entreated Paul, and gave him liberty to go unto his friends to refresh himself.” (Acts 27:3) That they did receive the Gospel and did repent confirms the truth of Christ’s words. Hundreds of years earlier, Ezekiel had prophesized concerning the stubbornness of Israel, and that they would refuse to repent and accept Christ, “But the house of Israel will not hearken unto thee; for they will not hearken unto me: for all the house of Israel are impudent and hardhearted.” (Ezekiel 3:7) Nineveh repented, and in that way escaped God’s wrath, and these cities should have followed their example. “So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them. And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not.” (Jonah 3:5, 10)