The Mystery of the Gospel
November 5, 2020
Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles had occurred in Tyre and Sidon which occurred in you, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. Nevertheless I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for you (Matthew 11:21-22).
There is an old saying that ‘the Lord works in mysterious ways, His wonders to behold’. The Gospel is indeed mysterious for its effect on some and not on others.
Chorazin (Khor•ad•zin) was a small town north of Capernaum (Cap•er•nah•oom) in the region of Galilee. Archaeologist have excavated the site now known as Charaza (Kha•rhad•za). Here and in Luke 10:13 are the only two places where this town is mentioned in the New Testament. There is no record of Jesus ministering there.
Bethsaida (Bayth•sahee•da) was the home of Peter, Philip, and Andrew. It was located on the northeast shore of the Sea of Galilee near Chorazin and Capernaum. It is a more familiar town in Galilee, Jesus having done some ministry there by feeding 5,000 (Luke 9:10; John 6:17; Matthew 14:15-21), and where the blind man had his sight restored (Mark 8:22). It was also known as Julius.
The point here is that you have two towns upon which Jesus pronounced His strongest condemnation. Chorazin saw no ministry of Jesus, in Bethsaida Jesus ministered to a small degree. But it is noted that the response of the people (besides Peter, Philip, and Andrew) was that of apathy. Rollo May said, “Hate is not the opposite of love; apathy is.”
Great privileges had been lost to these two towns, but would have been experienced by Tyre (Too•ros) and Sidon (Sid•own) had Jesus ministered there. To the Galilean Jews, Tyre and Sidon were considered the epitome of pagan heathenism. Yet “God gave the opportunity where it was rejected, and it was not given where it would have been accepted” (Spurgeon). That’s the mystery of the sovereignty of the Lord and His Gospel. The self-righteous religion of the Galilean Jews blinded them spiritually to the Gospel of Jesus more so than the paganism of the pagan Tyreans and Sidonians. They had become totally indifferent to Jesus.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Your life begins to end the moment you start being silent about things that matter.” I believe Christian people are beginning to wake up to the moment where we see the things that truly matter to us are slipping out of our grasp; we are shaking off the apathy that has affected us for several decades.
“Father, forgive us for taking for granted the Gospel and its power among us; for being apathetic to the privileges You have given us to be the powerful witness we should be on a daily basis; for allowing ourselves to rest in spiritual doldrums. Awaken us again to the joy and excitement of Your word and Your work. To the salvation of the lost and the furtherance of Your Kingdom I ask, Amen.”