Rebuking the Cities

November 3, 2020

Then He began to denounce the cities in which most of His miracles were done, because they did not repent (Matthew 11:20).

This statement is one of many in the Gospels that counter the popular belief that Jesus was a mild mannered, compassionate, and forgiving Man who never judged or rebuked anyone. There are several human characteristics Jesus demonstrated in His 3 year ministry that are not translated very well in the English Bible. Jesus did have a dry wit about Him. He was a master of the pun. He would often use a play on words. And He did condemn people and cities.

After having completed His discourse on John the Baptizer, Jesus turned His attention to those who had heard the Gospel (through the disciples He had sent out earlier) but refused to accept it. The ‘woes’ pronounced upon these cities (which we will discuss later) were very strong and condemning. This underscores the seriousness of rejecting the Gospel.

Notice Jesus ‘began to denounce’ the cities. To ‘denounce’ is to reprove, rebuke or pronounce a heavy judgment upon someone or something. Why would Jesus do such a thing? The more God does to draw people unto Himself, the less excusable they are if they continue in sin. If Jesus had not done everything necessary to save these people, He would not have rebuked them for their lack of repentance.

Comparing between the ‘children of this generation’ and ‘wisdom’ which is justified by good works, on the one hand, results in a declaration of judgment against those who would not repent (vv. 21-24), and, on the other, gives room for an attitude of thanksgiving, a declaration of His own exalted position, and His great invitation (vv. 25-30). 

To reject Jesus Christ as the Messiah sent by God to save us is more damning because of the Gospel that was preached and taught. From everyone who has been given much, much will be required (Luke 12:48). Those who reject Jesus Christ after hearing the Gospel are considered worse than a heathen. Faithful preaching and teaching and sharing of the Gospel makes the faithless hearer far more guilty than the one who is ignorant of the Gospel.

“Lord, Your servant Jonathan Edwards spoke of the horrors of sinners who fall into the hands of an angry God. We begin to sense this horror as Jesus declared His judgment on those who had the opportunity to hear the Gospel but refused to accept it. There are many such people all around us today, and even though we cannot save them because that is the work of Your Holy Spirit, we can continue to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with them. Help me not be discouraged by those who say ‘no’ to You. Lead me to those whom You have prepared to hear the good word of Your grace so that they may be saved. To Your honor and glory I ask, Amen.”


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