Then he began to denounce the cities where most of his mighty works had been done, because they did not repent. “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I tell you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You will be brought down to Hades. For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I tell you that it will be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom than for you.”
Understanding And Applying the Text
It is interesting to place this passage in context. Jesus is sending his disciples out to various parts of Judea. They were to proclaim the kingdom of God was at hand. Then Jesus started reflecting on the ingratitude of the cities where he had preached. This also comes on the heels of Jesus’ answer to John the Baptist’s disciples asked. “Was Jesus was the messiah?” If you recall. Jesus did not answer with a yes or no. He answered with evidence. This blind received their sight. The lame walked. The deaf heard. The lepers were cleansed. The dead were raised. And the poor had the good news preached to them.
All this evidence happened in the cities Jesus denounced. They saw the lame walk, the blind see. They saw the dead raised. They heard the good news. They were eyewitnesses to it all. Yet they did not believe.
They had the proof. But they refused to believe. They refused to repent.
Notice the seriousness of unbelief. The first comparison is Tyre and Sidon. At that time the Jews abhorred them. They were ungodly and proud. They lived lives of debauchery and other vices. Every Jew looked at them with disdain. The Jews considered them abominations and despisers of God.
Jesus compared the citizens of Bethsaida with the inhabitants of Tyre and Sidon. You can imagine the rage the citizens felt.
Tyre and Sidon were the most wretched of places. If Christ had done his works there, they would have repented. But would Bethsaida repent? No! But Tyer and Sidon would have repented in sackcloth and ashes. But Bethsaida considered themselves godly. They had no need to repent. But the worst of the worst will receive less judgment than Bethsaida.
Christ then moves on to Capernaum. Capernaum was Jesus’ hometown. They saw God’s Son in the flesh more than any other group. Did they repent? Did they believe? No! But if Sodom had seen the Son of God. They would have believed. They would have repented, but not Capernaum.
Sodom, the city we sight as the ultimate in debauchery, will receive less punishment than Capernaum.
That is how serious the sin of unbelief is. We tend to point to other people’s sins and think how bad they are. But do we believe Christ? Do we trust God? Do we only believe in God rather than believing God?