Then he began to scold the cities where he had done his greatest miracles because they didn’t change their hearts and lives. “How terrible it will be for you, Chorazin! How terrible it will be for you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles done among you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have changed their hearts and lives and put on funeral clothes and ashes a long time ago. But I say to you that Tyre and Sidon will be better off on Judgment Day than you. And you, Capernaum, will you be honored by being raised up to heaven? No, you will be thrown down to the place of the dead. After all, if the miracles that were done among you had been done in Sodom, it would still be here today. But I say to you that it will be better for the land of Sodom on the Judgment Day than it will be for you” (Matthew 11:20-24, Common English Bible).
This is one of those places where Jesus has some tough words for his listeners. Jesus’ listeners would have very well known what became of Sodom and Gomorrah (if you are unfamiliar with the story read Genesis 19). And, here Jesus is saying it would be better for Sodom, a city entirely destroyed because of how terribly they sinned, than it would be for Capernaum at Judgement Day! Those are some scary words that at least to this point, seem to have little impact.
So what is the big deal? With all that Jesus was doing in and around Capernaum and Bethsaida, with all the miracles they saw performed, they just took the miracles for granted. They didn’t seem impressed by what they saw Jesus do. They were used to having Jesus around and doing things. To my way of thinking, what it really amounted to is: Yawn, “It’s no big deal. We’ve seen it before. There is more where that came from. Sure, Jesus brought a little girl back to life (see Matthew 9:18-26), but he did it once, he can do it again.
Is it really any different for us? In American society today, we take God’s provision for granted. So much of the time we take what God does and what God gives and think we did it ourselves. Even if the event is beyond our own capabilities, it was fate, we just lucked out. We might even say that God was looking out for us, but all too often it changes nothing about how we are living our lives.
I’ve often wondered, after Jesus’ little lecture here, if the folks in Bethsaida, Chorazin and Capernaum changed their ways. There might have been a slight change but I tend to think that because of the human condition, there was little long-term change.
The same is often true for us. We know what Jesus has done. We know what the Holy Spirit does. When we really think about it, we are thankful but it doesn’t take too much time until we are slipping back into old habits.
Perhaps what we really need is another miracle, a miracle that will help us to remain faithful and thankful for what God has done for us.
How would you pray for God to help you to be more faithful?
Have a blessed day in the Lord.
Joy, Peace and Thanksgiving,
Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved