Matthew 11:20

Jesus is already approaching the sadder stage of his brief ministry; already to the eye of sense it begins to look like a failure. To some it was a failure. The seed had fallen by the wayside, and the birds had carried it away. A similar lament to that of Christ might well be uttered over many regions of favoured Christendom.

I. THE GREATNESS OF THE PRIVILEGES. NO places on earth had been more privileged than these Galileean towns. Here Jesus had lived and worked; here his greatest miracles had been performed, and every miracle was an object-lesson setting forth before the eyes of men the blessings of the kingdom.

1. Privileges of knowledge. The inhabitants of these cities had heard the gospel from the very lips of the Saviour. They had seen the spirit of his life and the laws of the kingdom in everything he did. They who dwell in Christian ]ands have privileges denied to the heathen. Still more have the children of a Christian home. If we have known Christ from our childhood, have been trained in Christian truth, have seen the work of Christ in the society in which we have lived, ours is the condition of Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum.

II. THE NEGLECT OF THE PRIVILEGES. These cities had heard, but they had not heeded. They had seen, but they had not followed. The gospel had come to their doors, but the foolish people had not received it into their hearts. The explanation of this indifference is given in the earlier verses of the chapter. The negligent people were unsympathetic - they were like listless children sitting in the market-place. Their condition is representative of that of multitudes in our own day. The labours of the Church are expended on them in vain. They have had the truth of Christ's gospel preached in their ears time after time. Yet to them it is nothing. Their very familiarity with the words only seems to render them callous to the meaning. They could pass an examination in religious knowledge with credit; some of them have done so, and have won high places and carried off prizes. Yet they are utterly indifferent to Christ. Here is an appalling condition! It is due to the hardening effect of sin or to the deadening that comes with wilful worldliness. If men and women will absorb themselves in questions of money-making, amusement, and fashion, they cannot receive Christ or feel the blessedness of his gospel.

III. THE MELANCHOLY DOOM OF THOSE WHO WASTE GREAT PRIVILEGES. The cities are to be cast down. The prophecy of Christ has been literally fulfilled. All three cities have disappeared, and have left scarcely a ruin behind. Or at least there is a dispute as to what ruins may be identified with them, and Capernaum in particular has occasioned much trouble to the map-makers. The neglect of Christian privileges cannot continue for ever. He who has buried his talent will most assuredly be called to account for it. Then the doom will be proportionate to the privileges neglected. The vices of the three cities of Galilee may not have reached the hideous blackness of the wicked cities of the plain, nor the notorious corruption of Phoenicia. But the greater privileges will be thrown into the scale and will weigh it down. Decorous, respectable people who enjoy Christian privileges and neglect them will be more heavily condemned than the most degraded heathen. - W.F.A.

Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsatda!



IV. IN THE DAY OF JUDGMENT IT WILL BE MORE TOLERABLE FOR SODOM THAN CAPERNAUM. These two cities may be considered under a threefold distinction.

1. Nominal.

2. Local.

3. Moral.


1. Because impenitency under the gospel hath more of sin in it, than any sin of the heathen. It is without excuse. Cannot plead ignorance.

2. Impenitency under the gospel is a resisting the loudest calls of God to repentance, The heathen called to repentance by natural conscience, creation; now by the Holy Spirit. Higher motives are laid before sinners.

3. There is the highest contempt of God in it

(1)of His authority:

(2)of His goodness:

(3)of His threatening.

4. This impenitency is a disappointing of God in His end.

5. This impenitency hath much folly in it, as well as sin.

6. Impenitency under the gospel shows greater wilfulness in sin.

7. Impenitency under the gospel is attended with the greatest resistance of the Spirit.Wherein the greater intolerableness will consist?

1. Such will suffer greater torments from their own consciences.

2. More than others from the devil and his angels.

3. Christ Himself will appear in greater severity against such.

4. Witnesses will rise up against these more than other sinners.APPLICATION.

1. We may hence learn what to judge of the heathen who have not heard of Christ.

2. The greatest favour and privilege to a people, may be the occasion of the greatest evil.

3. How ineffectual the best outward means are of themselves to bring a people to repentance.

4. What little reason men have to boast of their knowledge of gospel privileges, when these may turn to their surer condemnation.

5. To awaken us who have gospel favours above most people under heaven.

(M. Barker, M. A.)


II. Is IT ANY CONTRADICTION TO HIS GRANTING A SUFFICIENCY TO ALL, THAT IN THE HIGH EXERCISE OF HIS SOVEREIGNTY HE GRANTS TO SOME SPECIAL ASSISTANCE. — He gave time to Chorazin and Bethsaida what He granted not to Tyre and Sidon. When I read that Tyre and Sidon would have repented with the same means of grace that were given to Chorazin, I naturally inquire whether the means actually afforded to Tyre were sufficient. Then I ask if Tyre only wanted additional means, how could it consist with the justice of God's dealings to have refused those means? Lay it down as an axiom that the Judge of all the earth must do right. We forget that Chorazin and Tyre were under different dispensations, one under light of the gospel, the other in darkness of heathenism; one would be judged by the standard of revelation, the other not. And what is there incredible in the supposition that the means afforded to Tyre, in order to obedience, were as ample as those given to Chorazin for raising her to the loftier elevation which the gospel demanded? Means must be judged in connection with this end, and in this connection could their difference or equality be decided. If one man be required to lift one thousand tons, and another only one, it is obvious the arm of either must receive strength before it could accomplish the task. But they do not need the same strength. Tyre had as much help as Chorazin in view of her duties; less is required of the heathen. There are mysteries about the doctrine of election But why does not God give to each of us grace as His omniscience sees will be effectual? But has not God given us enough to render our condemnation just? We have sufficient for our salvation. Means must be kept within certain limits. Means which exceeded them not in Chorazin, would not in the case of Tyre. The means consistent with responsibility in Chorazin might have destroyed it in Tyre.

(H. Melvill, M. A.)



III. THAT THE EXTERNAL MEANS OF REPENTANCE WHICH GOD AFFORDS TO MEN, DO. SUPPOSE AN INWARD GRACE OF GOD ACCOMPANYING THEM. sufficiently enabling men to repent, until by obstinate neglect and resistance we provoke God to withdraw it from the means, or else to withdraw both the grace and the means from us.

IV. That an irresistible degree of grace is not necessary to repentance, nor commonly afforded to those who do repent.

V. That the sins and impenitence of men receive their aggravation, and consequently shall have their punishment proportionable to the opportunities and means of repentance which those persons enjoyed and neglected.


(J. Tillotson, D. D.)

We can conceive some inhabitant of these Jewish towns demanding with astonishment how the heathen could be preferred in their stead. The Almighty Judge, in apportioning rewards and punishments regards not the actual amount of profligacy and virtue, but also the means of improvement enjoyed. He could see in Tyre and Sidon, debased as they were, 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, not by the acts done. He judges of a degree of faith never actually called into existence.

I. THE first conclusion to be drawn relates to the future condition of those millions of men, who depart this life in ignorance of a Saviour's name.

II. The probability of our being mistaken in our views of the future judgment.

III. Warning against drawing hasty conclusions from anything which we can interpret as a manifest interference of Divine Providence for the punishment of sin.

IV. Such is the sentence against ourselves if we know these things and do them not.

(C. Girdlestone, M. A.)

While Christ was unmoved at the foreseen decay of Capernaum, He wept at the thought of the desolation of Jerusalem; a sign of His perfect manhood that He should thus have most sympathy with those who were His countrymen.

I. WHAT IS IMPLIED BY THE RENUNCIATION OF CAPERNAUM AS EXALTED UNTO HEAVEN. The Bible finds man in a garden, it leaves him in a city; intimating that the highest kind of life is social. We are not to regard the accumulation of men into great communities as an unmixed evil. It may be a source of temptation; it is also the means of drawing out some of the holiest charities of the soul, some of the noblest endowments of the mind. It is this selfexaltation which is the snare of evVVV man who is one of a great community. The concourse of men has a tendency to put God at a distance. Hence arises an independent spirit. If we would lead a life safe from the casting down of shame and care, we must keep before us the thought of an ever-present, personal God. Distraction of mind makes men wretched. This is produced by absence of religious obedience. Men are worn out with the eternal strife to reconcile impossibilities. In putting our life under God, lies its own safe exaltation.

II. But it is not only the being independent of God which our Lord charges upon Capernaum; He speaks of it as being in AN ESPECIAL DEGREE INSENSIBLE TO HIS OWN WONDER-WORKING POWER. Here Christ appears to lay bare another fault to which large and flourishing communities are peculiarly liable, viz., insensibility to distinct religious impressions. This shows itself by the small proportion of people who attend public service or partake of the Lord's Supper. Not difficult to see the reason why this should be the besetting sin of those who live in large cities.

1. The personal insignificance of each individual in this place is a snare. One man is nothing the mighty throng.

2. There is never wanting in a vast population the support of others.

3. In living amongst large numbers, we become acutely suspicious of being deceived and misled. We learn to distrust our best feelings. Not more mighty works were done in Capernauru than in our own streets if we have hearts to receive them. All that savours of the supernatural in religion, finds men apathetic. For a little while we catch a glimpse of what is, we know what it is to believe; and then the cold black flood of worldliness and unconcern rolls back and the solemn union grows indistinct and fades away. The spirit of insensibility possesses us again. Then awaits that man a fall more disastrous than ever overtook any earthly city — not the casting down of walls, but the undermining of every high resolve, the decay of every unselfish principle, the ruin of every goodly hope.

(J. R. Woodford, M. A.)

It is a sin of the deepest dye.

1. A great contempt and affront are cast upon God.

2. It shows a man's determined hardness of heart.

3. Let us consider the privileges we enjoy in this favoured land.

(E. Cooper.)

I. CAPERNAUM WAS EXALTED TO HEAVEN because of Christ's preaching and performing so many miracles there.

1. Here He performed most of His miracles.

2. Here Jesus preached.

3. Here Jesus prayed.

4. Here the Holy Spirit descended, for conversion of souls. So Scotland has been exalted to heaven.

(1)By the preaching of the gospel.

(2)By the pouring out of the Spirit.


1. Some would not go to hear.

2. Some went for awhile.

3. Some followed Him all the time, but did not repent.


1. According to justice.

2. According to truth.

3. In the nature of things.


Elias, Elijah, Jesus, John
Bethsaida, Capernaum, Chorazin, Galilee, Sidon, Sodom, Tyre
Cities, Denounce, Didn't, Mighty, Miracles, Performed, Power, Reform, Repent, Repented, Reproach, Sins, Towns, Upbraid, Wherein, Works
1. John sends his disciples to Jesus.
7. Jesus' testimony concerning John.
16. The perverse judgment of the people concerning the Son.
20. Jesus upbraids Korazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum;
25. and praising his Father's wisdom in revealing the Gospel to the simple,
28. he calls to him those who are weary and burdened.

Dictionary of Bible Themes
Matthew 11:20

     2369   Christ, responses to
     6195   impenitence, results
     6734   repentance, importance

Matthew 11:20-21

     2351   Christ, miracles

Matthew 11:20-22

     1418   miracles, responses
     9250   woe

Matthew 11:20-24

     2009   Christ, anger of
     2318   Christ, as prophet
     5052   responsibility, to God
     6194   impenitence, warnings
     9240   last judgment
     9513   hell, as incentive to action

The Friend of Publicans and Sinners
'The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners. But wisdom is justified of her children,'--MATT. xi. 19. Jesus very seldom took notice of His enemies' slanders. 'When He was reviled He reviled not again.' If ever He did, it was for the sake of those whom it harmed to distort His beauty. Thus, here He speaks, without the slightest trace of irritation, of the capricious inconsistency of condemning Himself and John
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

Sodom, Capernaum, Manchester
'Then began He to upbraid the cities wherein most of His mighty works were done, because they repented not.' --MATT. xi. 20. These words, and the woes which they introduce, are found in another connection in Luke's Gospel. He attaches them to his report of the mission of the seventy disciples. Matthew here introduces them in an order which seems not to depend upon time, but upon identity of subject. It is his method in his Gospel to group together similar events, as we have it exemplified, for instance,
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

Christ's Strange Thanksgiving
'I thank Thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.' --MATT. xi. 25. When Jesus was about to cure one dumb man, He lifted up His eyes to heaven and sighed. Sorrow filled His soul in the act of working deliverance. The thought of the depth of the miseries He had come to heal, and of the ocean of them which He was then diminishing but by one poor drop, saddened Him. When Jesus thought of the woes that had
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

John's Doubts of Jesus, and Jesus' Praise of John
'Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples, 3. And said unto Him, Art Thou He that should come, or do we look for another? 4. Jesus answered and said unto them, Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see: 5. The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. 6. And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in Me. 7.
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

The Rest Giver
'Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29. Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.'--MATT. xi. 28, 29. One does not know whether tenderness or majesty is predominant in these wonderful words. A divine penetration into man's true condition, and a divine pity, are expressed in them. Jesus looks with clearsighted compassion into the inmost history of all hearts, and sees the toil and the
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

Rest for the Weary
Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. W hich shall we admire most -- the majesty, or the grace, conspicuous in this invitation? How soon would the greatest earthly monarch be impoverished, and his treasures utterly exhausted, if all, that are poor and miserable, had encouragement to apply freely to him, with a promise of relief, fully answerable to their wants and wishes! But the riches of Christ are unsearchable and inexhaustible. If millions and millions
John Newton—Messiah Vol. 1

Messiah's Easy Yoke
Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. T hough the influence of education and example, may dispose us to acknowledge the Gospel to be a revelation from God; it can only be rightly understood, or duly prized, by those persons who feel themselves in the circumstances of distress, which it is designed to relieve. No Israelite would think of fleeing to a city of refuge (Joshua 20:2.
John Newton—Messiah Vol. 1

The Yoke of Christ.
"Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls; for My yoke is easy, and My burden is light."--Matt. xi. 29, 30. These words, which are brought before us in the Gospel of to-day's festival[1], are also found in the address made to us upon Ash Wednesday, in which we are told that if we "return unto Him who is the merciful Receiver of all true penitent sinners, if we will take His easy yoke and light burden upon us, to follow Him
John Henry Newman—Parochial and Plain Sermons, Vol. VII

On the Words of the Gospel, Matt. xi. 2, "Now when John Heard in the Prison the Works of the Christ, He Sent by his Disciples,
1. The lesson of the Holy Gospel has set before us a question touching John the Baptist. May the Lord assist me to resolve it to you, as He hath resolved it to us. John was commended, as ye have heard, by the testimony of Christ, and in such terms commended, as that there had not risen a greater among those who were born of women. But a greater than he had been born of a Virgin. How much greater? Let the herald himself declare, how great the difference is between himself and his Judge, whose herald
Saint Augustine—sermons on selected lessons of the new testament

On the Words of the Gospel, Matt. xi. 25, "I Thank Thee, O Father, Lord of Heaven and Earth, that Thou Didst Hide These Things From
1. When the Holy Gospel was being read, we heard that the Lord Jesus exulted in Spirit, and said, "I confess to Thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for that Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes." [2252] Thus much to begin [2253] with, we find before we pass on further, if we consider the words of the Lord with due attention, with diligence, and above all with piety, that we ought not invariably to understand when we read of "confession" in
Saint Augustine—sermons on selected lessons of the new testament

Again on the Words of the Gospel, Matt. xi. 25, "I Thank Thee, O Father, Lord of Heaven and Earth," Etc.
1. We have heard the Son of God saying, "I confess to Thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth." What doth he confess to Him? Wherein doth he praise Him? "Because Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes." [2288] Who are the "wise and prudent"? Who the "babes"? What hath He hid from the wise and prudent, and revealed unto babes? By the "wise and prudent," He signifieth those of whom St. Paul speaks; "Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the
Saint Augustine—sermons on selected lessons of the new testament

Again on the Words of the Gospel, Matt. xi. 28, "Come unto Me, all Ye that Labour and are Heavy Laden, and I Will Give You
1. It seems strange to some, Brethren, when they hear the Lord say, "Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will refresh you. Take my yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." [2323] And they consider that they who have fearlessly bowed their necks to this yoke, and have with much submission taken this burden upon their shoulders, are tossed about and exercised by so great
Saint Augustine—sermons on selected lessons of the new testament

The Sinner's Friend
"Savior of sinners they proclaim, Sinners of whom the chief I am." What the invidious Jews said in bitter spleen, has been turned by the Holy Spirit to the most gracious account. Where they poured out vials of hate, odours of sacred incense arise. Troubled consciences have found a sweet balm in the very sound. Jesus, "the friend of publicans and sinners," has proved himself friendly to them, and they have become friends with him; so completely has he justified the very name which his enemies gave
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 10: 1864

Rest, Rest
We will, this morning, if we can, conduct you into the inner chambers of out text, place its words under the microscope, and peer into the recesses of each sentence. We only wish our microscope were of a greater magnifying power, and our ability to expound the text more complete; for there are mines of instruction here. Superficially read, this royal promise has cheered and encouraged tens of thousands, but there is a wealth in it which the diligent digger and miner shall alone discover. Its shallows
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 17: 1871

Holy violence
"But," says one, "do you wish us to understand, that if a man is to be saved he must use violence and vehement earnestness in order to obtain salvation?" I do, most assuredly; that is the doctrine of the text. "But," says one, "I thought it was all the work of God." So it is, from first to last. But when God has begun the work in the soul, the constant effect of God's work in us is to set us working; and where God's Spirit is really striving with us, we shall begin to strive too. This is just a test
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 5: 1859

The Meek and Lowly One
I. First, then, I am to consider THE FIRST QUALITY WHICH JESUS CHRIST CLAIMS. He declares that he is "MEEK." Christ is no egotist; he takes no praise to himself. If ever he utters a word in self-commendation, it is not with that object; it is with another design, namely that he may entice souls to come to him. Here, in order to exhibit this meekness, I shall have to speak of him in several ways. 1. First, Christ is meek, as opposed to the ferocity of spirit manifested by zealots and bigots. Take,
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 5: 1859

Powerful Persuasives
I HAVE preached to you, dear friends, several times from the words, "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." There is such sweetness in the precept, such solace in the promise, that I could fain hope to preach from it many times more. But I have no intention just now to repeat what I have said in any former discourse, or to follow the same vein of thought that we have previously explored. This kindly and gracious invitation needs only to be held up in different
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 62: 1916

Sermon for the Sixth Sunday after Epiphany
(From the Gospel for St. Matthias'-day, 24th February) Of the proper marks of true humility. Matt. xi. 29.--"Learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly in heart." CHRIST, our blessed Lord, the true master and teacher of all art and virtue, and a pattern of all perfection, when He came down from Heaven to instruct us poor ignorant men, did not see fit to make use of great subtleties, or mysterious and ingenious statements of truth; but in short, plain, simple words He delivered to us a maxim, and gave us
Susannah Winkworth—The History and Life of the Reverend Doctor John Tauler

Sermon for the Third Sunday in Advent
(From the Gospel for the day) How that we must wholly come out from ourselves, that we may go into the wilderness and behold God. Matt. xi. 7.--"What went ye out into the wilderness for to see?" OUR Lord Jesus Christ said unto the Jews, "What went ye out into the wilderness for to see? A reed shaken with the wind?" In these words let us consider three things: First, the going out; secondly, the wilderness; thirdly, what we are to see there. First, let us consider the going out. This blessed going
Susannah Winkworth—The History and Life of the Reverend Doctor John Tauler

Sixth Day. Thankfulness.
"I thank Thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth."--Matt. xi. 25. A thankful spirit pervaded the entire life of Jesus, and surrounded with a heavenly halo His otherwise darkened path. In moments we least expect to find it, this beauteous ray breaks through the gloom. In instituting the memorial of His death, He "gave thanks!" Even in crossing the Kedron to Gethsemane, "He sang an hymn!" We know in seasons of deep sorrow and trial that every thing wears a gloomy aspect. Dumb Nature herself to
John R. Macduff—The Mind of Jesus

Fifth Day. Meekness.
"I am meek and lowly in heart."--Matt. xi. 29. There is often a beautiful blending of majesty and humility, magnanimity and lowliness, in great minds. The mightiest and holiest of all Beings that ever trod our world was the meekest of all. The Ancient of Days was as the "infant of days." He who had listened to nothing but angel-melodies from all eternity, found, while on earth, melody in the lispings of an infant's voice, or in an outcast's tears! No wonder an innocent lamb was His emblem, or
John R. Macduff—The Mind of Jesus

"I Will Give You Rest. "
A COMMUNION ADDRESS AT MENTONE. "I will give you rest."--Matthew xi. 28. "I WILL GIVE YOU REST." WE have a thousand times considered these words as an encouragement to the labouring and the laden; and we may, therefore, have failed to read them as a promise to ourselves. But, beloved friends, we have come to Jesus, and therefore He stands engaged to fufil this priceless pledge to us. We may now enjoy the promise; for we have obeyed the precept. The faithful and true Witness, whose word is truth,
Charles Hadden Spurgeon—Till He Come

A Devout Exhortation to the Holy Communion the Voice of Christ
Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will refresh you,(1) saith the Lord. The bread that I will give is My flesh which I give for the life of the world.(2) Take, eat: this is My Body, which is given for you; this do in remembrance of Me.(3) He that eateth My flesh and drinketh My blood dwelleth in Me and I in him. The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.(4) (1) Matthew xi. 28 (2) John vi. 51. (3) Matthew xxi. 26; Luke xxii. 19. (4) John vi.
Thomas A Kempis—Imitation of Christ

The Baptist's Inquiry and Jesus' Discourse Suggested Thereby.
(Galilee.) ^A Matt. XI. 2-30; ^C Luke VII. 18-35. ^c 18 And the disciples of John told him of all these things. ^a 2 Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent by his disciples ^c 19 And John calling unto him two of his disciples sent them unto the Lord [John had been cast into prison about December, a.d. 27, and it was now after the Passover, possibly in May or June, a.d. 28. Herod Antipas had cast John into prison because John had reproved him for taking his brother's wife.
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel

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