THE SANDWICH MAN
"'Doom, Chorazin! Doom, Bethsaida! If Tyre and Sidon had been given half the chances given you, they'd have been on their knees long ago, repenting and crying for mercy. Tyre and Sidon will have it easy on Judgment Day, compared to you.
"'And you, Capernaum! Do you think you're about to be promoted to heaven? Think again. You're on a mudslide to hell! 'The one who listens to you, listens to me. The one who rejects you, rejects me. And rejecting me is the same as rejecting God, who sent me.'" Luke 10:13-16 (The Message).
It's funny how people shrug off warnings like these as the raving of a religious fanatic!
Some 500 odd years before Jesus spoke these words, the prophet Ezekiel warned that the Phoenician city of Tyre, built on an island in the Mediterranean Sea, would disappear into the sea because of its wickedness. Alexander the Great did the unthinkable. When Tyre, thinking it was unconquerable, resisted his armies, he built a causeway from the mainland to the island and took the city, reducing it to rubble.
Although Tyre and Sidon were pagan cities, they had many links with Israel in the Old Testament era. Jesus visited the area and healed a persistent woman's daughter who was plagued by demons. These cities did not have the opportunities to repent as did the towns of Chorazin and Bethsaida did who were visited by the very Son of God Himself.
Jesus was not sandwich man, wearing a board that said, “Prepare to meet thy doom!” He expressed His concern over their hardness of heart. Had Tyre and Sidon received the same opportunity as they had been given, they would have grabbed it and turned away from their wickedness. How tough it would be for the people of Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum which Jesus frequented, healing the sick and preaching the good news of God's kingdom on many occasions, when they stood in the blinding light of God's holiness to realise that they has wasted their opportunity to receive Jesus and live God's way!
Even as you read these words, there is a reaction in your own heart as there is in mine. We can either read them as history or literature, or we can take seriously what the people of these towns did not do. Why did Jesus spend time with them? He had a passionate desire to reintroduce them to the God they had either forgotten or missed in the rubble of their religion. He wanted them to know and love His Father and return to a life of submission to Him in order to experience real life.
We are so conditioned by the persistent bombardment of the entertainment world to be spectators that we are inclined to take nothing seriously. We can watch the most evil and perverse programmes and feel nothing. Every form of wickedness is portrayed on the screen to entertain us so that we become so hardened by crime, violence, and sexual perversion that we are no longer horrified and outraged by them. Even so-called Christian television has become a form of spiritual entertainment.
Jesus' words of warning should alert us to the reality of the most pernicious disease that afflicts people both inside and outside of the church -- no fear of God! What does that mean? Put in very simplistic terms, we have the same attitude as the cities and towns Jesus warned -- we don't take Him seriously.
Let's make a resolve today, if we consider ourselves to be His disciples, that we will read what Jesus said as though He really meant it and respond with faith and obedience to His Word. What difference would it make, what changes would happen to our lives, to our homes, to our work places and to our communities if we did that?
If we really love Him, we cannot afford not to.
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