Woe to you, Chorazin! woe to you, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works had been done in Tyre and Sidon, which have been done in you…
We may conceive some inhabitant of these Jewish towns demanding with astonishment, How can these things be? Shall we who are the children of Abraham be rejected, and the heathen be preferred in our stead? The Almighty Judge, we may hence collect, in the apportioning of rewards and punishments, regards not the actual amount of profligacy or virtue, but takes into consideration also the means of improvement enjoyed, the kind of information and light vouchsafed. He could estimate, in Tyre and Sidon, debased as they were by ignorance and idolatry, a disposition not indifferent to those proofs of Divine revelation, which to Bethsaida and Chorazin were exhibited in vain. He judges according to that hidden temper, according to that inward disposition; not by the acts committed, but by the circumstances also under which they are done. Nay, He judges of a degree of faith never actually called into existence.
I. The first conclusion to be drawn from the text thus explained relates to the future condition of those millions of mankind who depart this life in ignorance of a Saviour's name. The sacrifice of Christ made atonement for the whole race of mankind. And though so many millions are ignorant of His name, yet in some of them is discerned a spirit which would enable them to have repented at His preaching. By that spirit it may be hereafter determined whether or no the merits of Jesus Christ are imparted for the salvation of their souls.
II. Secondly, we may learn, from this view of the text, the probability of our being greatly mistaken in our views of the future judgment.
III. And here, thirdly, it may be observed, that mankind are too ready to draw hasty conclusions, from anything which they can interpret as a manifest interference of Divine Providence for the punishment of sin.
IV. Such, too, let us in the last place remember, is the sentence recorded against every one of us ourselves, if we know these things and do them not; if we acknowledge these mighty works and yet repent not. Let us not then be deceived by the blessings of outward prosperity. They form part of our trial.
(C. Girdlestone, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works had been done in Tyre and Sidon, which have been done in you, they had a great while ago repented, sitting in sackcloth and ashes.