John the Baptist is known for his fiery words of judgment (Matthew 3:7-12). Herod Antipas, the local ruler of Galilee, whose home is the town of Tiberius, just across from Capernaum on the Sea of Galilee, has had enough of John’s words of condemnation on his lifestyle. He sends his soldiers to get John and put him in prison. It is at this point where Jesus seems to take up John’s fiery prophetic message.
In our text for Sunday, Matthew 11:20-24, Jesus speaks powerful prophetic words of judgment and warning to the people and places he has made his home base of ministry: Chorizin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum. These are hard words to hear!
What is Jesus intention? Why these challenging words to the very people he is bringing good news? As we look at this text as part of a two week series, Good News: Judgment and Rest, what is Jesus intention? Is it judgment or grace?
As with any prophet of God in the Bible, their role was to bring people back to God in obedience to his will. It is no different for the people of Jesus day when Jesus speaks these prophetic words of coming judgment. Does this mean there is no escape?
Jesus reference to Sodom and the context of Jonah gives us a clue to the answer. Also, the context of Jesus next words (for next week) of becoming like a child and entering his Sabbath rest also give us a clue as to his intention with these strong words of judgment.
In preparation for Sunday read Matthew 11:20-24 for this week and keep reading through 12:21, our text for next week (November 12th).
One final question for reflection: Do you see any parallels of Jesus words of judgment for Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum for our context today? The answer to this will take some deep digging…