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!
I. THERE SHALL BE A DAY OF JUDGMENT.

II. IN THE DAY OF JUDGEMENT SOME SINNERS SHALL FARE WORSE THAN OTHERS.

III. IN THE DAY OF JUDGMENT THERE WILL DE A DISTRIBUTION OF SINNERS; PUNISHMENTS ACCORDING TO THE EXACT RULES OF JUSTICE.

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.

V. THAT THE WORST OF THE HEATHEN WHO NEVER HAD CHRIST PREACHED TO THEM SHALL FARE BETTER IN THE DAY OF JUDGMENT, THAN THOSE THAT CONTINUE IMPENITENT UNDER THE GOSPEL. Why?

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.)

I. DOES GOD GRANT TO ALL MANKIND A SUFFICIENCY OF MEANS OF REPENTANCE.

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.)

I. I observe from this discourse of our Saviour, THAT MIRACLES ARE OF GREAT FORCE AND EFFICACY TO BRING MEN TO REPENTENCE.

II. THAT GOD IS NOT OBLIGED TO WORK MIRACLES FOR THE CONVERSION OF SINNERS.

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.

VI. THAT THE CASE OF THOSE WHO ARE IMPENITENT UNDER THE GOSPEL IS OF ALL OTHERS THE MOST DANGEROUS, and their damnation shall be the most severe.

(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.

II. CAPERNAUM REPENTED NOT.

1. Some would not go to hear.

2. Some went for awhile.

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

III. CAPERNAUM WAS BROUGHT DOWN TO HELL.

1. According to justice.

2. According to truth.

3. In the nature of things.

(McCheyne.)

Links
Matthew 11:20 NIV
Matthew 11:20 NLT
Matthew 11:20 ESV
Matthew 11:20 NASB
Matthew 11:20 KJV

Matthew 11:20 Bible Apps
Matthew 11:20 Parallel
Matthew 11:20 Biblia Paralela
Matthew 11:20 Chinese Bible
Matthew 11:20 French Bible
Matthew 11:20 German Bible

Matthew 11:20 Commentaries

Bible Hub
Matthew 11:19
Top of Page
Top of Page