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A lesson learned from the cities that Jesus rebuked
by Robert Randle
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Matthew 11: 20, 22-23
Then He began to rebuke the cities in which most of His mighty works had been done, because they did not repent. “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida (Cp. Luke 10: 13a). For if the mighty works which were done in you were done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. “And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? No, you will be brought down to Hades [Sheol]; for if the mighty woks which were done in you were had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.

BACKGROUND: There are only these 2 references in Luke Matthew and Luke about the city of Chorazin, and the meaning of the name is unknown. Bethsaida means “house of fishes” and 3 of Jesus’ disciples [Philip, Andrew and Peter] were from there (Cp. John 1: 44). Jesus [Yeshua] healed a blind man that was led to Him by some friends (??) and He applied saliva to the man’s eyes, but told the man not to go back into the town nor tell anyone (Cp. Mark 8: 22-26). Jesus fed five thousand people in the desert environment of Bethsaida (Cp. Luke 9: 10-17).

Capernaum means “village of comfort” and it was the place where Jesus [Yeshua] made His home (Cp. Matthew 4: 13). After the wedding in Cana Jesus [Yeshua] went down to Capernaum with His mother, brothers and disciples (Cp. John 2: 1-2, 12). This is where Jesus healed a nobleman’s son (Cp. John 4: 46-54). Jesus was walking on the sea [of Tiberias/Galilee] toward Capernaum, the disciples saw Him and were afraid, thinking they saw a ghost (Cp. John 6: 16-22). It was in Jesus’ local hometown synagogue [Church] that He taught that famous lesson on eating His flesh and drinking His blood, and after this saying, many of the disciples were offended and walked with Him no more (Cp. John 6: 41-68). It is the place where Jesus healed a centurion’s servant [Aramaic version says “son”] (Cp. Matthew 8: 5-13), and came into Peter’s house where He healed Peter’s mother-in-law (Cp. Matthew 8: 14-17). This is also where a certain scribe [teacher of the Torah {Law}] came to Jesus and wanted to follow Him and another of His disciples [who is unnamed] told the LORD to let him first go and make funeral arrangements for his dead father, to which Jesus made that enigmatic and amazing reply; “Follow Me, and let the dead [in sins] bury their own dead (Cp. Matthew 8: 18-22).

Jesus heals a man of an unclean spirit in His local synagogue [Church] on the Sabbath (Cp. Mark 1: 21-28). Some days later Jesus came home to His own local community and healed a paralytic man after some friends tore a hole in the roof of Jesus’ house to let the man down in His midst because they could not enter in through the door due to the crowd. On this particular occasion some scribes were present and when they heard Jesus tell the man his sin’s were forgiven they became offended and accused Him of blasphemy (Cp. Mark 2: 12). The gospel of Luke mentions that Jesus had been teaching on the Sabbaths when this miraculous healing event took place, without including the scribes or Jesus telling the man that his sins were forgiven (Cp. Luke 4: 31-37). Now, Jesus was alone in the house with His disciples and asked them what they were discussing on the way back home and they were arguing about which one of them was “The Greatest” [like boxer Muhammad Ali]; and sadly, this was after the LORD Jesus had told them that He was going to be killed and rise again on the third day (Cp. Mark 9: 33-37). John and some of the disciples saw someone who wasn’t part of the group casting out demons in Jesus’ name and tried to prevent him (Cp. Mark 9: 38-41).

COMMENTARY: The one curious thing about the cities that Jesus denounced is the exclusion of the city of Nazareth because it was here that the people were so hardened He could not even perform a single mighty work there (Mark 6: 5-6a). This is also the place where Jesus read from the Isaiah scroll during the Jubilee Year celebration and they became indignant at His stinging comments afterwards and sought to lay hands on Him and throw Him down a cliff (Cp. Luke 4:16-30). Last but not least, it was in the region of Tyre and Sidon [which is excluded from Jesus’ woe] that Jesus healed the Canaanite [Syro-Phoenician] woman’s daughter who was demon possessed, but told her that He was sent to the lost sheep of the house of Israel and that it was not proper to take the children’s bread [blessings] and give it to dogs [Gentiles] (Cp. Matthew 15: 21-28).

So, what is the problem here? Jesus gives the answer in John 6: 26-29, which says: Jesus answered them and said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled [physically satisfied but in a state of spiritual starvation]. “Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food that endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal upon Him. Then they said to Him, “What shall we do, that we may work the works of God??” Jesus [Yeshua] answered and said unto them, “This is the work of God: that you believe in Him whom He has sent.” Here it is in a nutshell, then, the one critical element which escapes notice, namely: “Miracles ‘DO NOT’ produce Faith!” This can be seen all the way from the beginning of the nation of Israel after their miraculous liberation from Egyptian slavery and receiving God’s Law up until this present time, because like most people, whether believers or not, all we want is a blessing of physical healing, deliverance or manifestation but tend to neglect the more lasting spiritual one.

Robert Randle
776 Commerce St. #B-11
Tacoma, WA 98402
October 25, 2011

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