Woe to You

November 4, 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).

Dr. Ortegon was Professor of Philosophy at Cal Baptist, my alma mater. He was from Mexico, having earned his Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University in Mexico City. At that time he was in his late 60s or early 70s. He was a fine Christian man who truly loved the Lord. His heavy Hispanic accent made it difficult to understand him from time to time, but it was always humorous when he would stress the seriousness of a bad decision or the neglect of something required. I can still hear him say, “Eef joo do naw bring jur blue etsay booklet to class for de tess on Doosday, voe es joo!” (If you do not bring your blue essay booklet to class for the test on Tuesday, woe is you!).

While we thought the ‘woe is you’ to be a funny way to stress being on time, bringing our essay booklet, doing the required reading, etc., when Jesus pronounce ‘woe’ upon the cities of Chorazin and Bethsaida it was no laughing matter. The word ‘woe’ can be an exclamation of pity or it can be a denunciation of wrath. Context is always the determining factor. Here, Jesus in His righteous indignation, is passing judgment on the people of these cities. Why? Indifference.

There is no indication that any of the Galileans stood in opposition to Jesus. In fact their response to Jesus was mild compared to the Judeans. Furthermore, the Scriptures indicate these Galileans ignored Jesus as inconsequential despite the miraculous works He did there.

The word ‘indifference’ means lack of concern; to render unimportant. MacArthur said, “Indifference is a heinous form of unbelief. It so completely disregards God that He is not even an issue worth arguing about. He is not taken seriously enough to criticize.” Their attitude toward the Messiah was reprehensible because His ministry among them was miraculous, revealing, compassionate, and powerful, yet they did not respond one way or the other. Jesus said they didn’t respond with repentance, which was the point of His ministry - to bring people to repentance and faith in Him as the Messiah of God.

We preach and teach and witness to people of the glory, majesty, love, grace, and mercy of God through Jesus Christ. We want people to hear and believe and be saved. It hurts when people adamantly refuse the Gospel; it hurts even more when people don’t care - they could take it or leave it. Upon them is the greater judgment of God.

“Father, there is an increasing number of people who are adamantly opposed to the Gospel, more so than when I began in ministry. But there are also an increasing number of people who are apathetic to the Gospel. Help me to not give up on any of them, but to press the claims of Jesus to anyone who will listen. To the praise and glory of Your Son, Jesus Christ, I ask, Amen.”


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