Heed God’s Call
Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not: Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you. And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee. – Matthew 11:20–24
After Jesus overcame Satan’s temptation in the wilderness, He began his public ministry: “From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt. 4:17).
During His ministry He traveled through many cities throughout Galilee. The cities mentioned in our text – Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum – were among the cities where Jesus preached. He proclaimed the gospel of the kingdom. He healed those with affliction and disease. He made the blind to see and the dead to live. His fame spread far and wide and many came unto Him to be healed (Matt. 4:23–25; 11:5). Here we can perceive His “mighty works” which were done in those cities.
Self-Righteousness Clouded Their Sight
Although great crowds witnessed these miracles, there were many who did not repent and believe. Their life was not one of open sin and ungodliness, such as was the case in the cities of Tyre, Sidon and Sodom of the Old Testament. In fact it seems quite the contrary; self-righteousness, good works, wisdom and understanding were the demise of many. Others surely knew and even believed that Jesus was the Son of God but in their own heart did not repent. Jesus’ warning in our text is strong. Not only one who lives a worldly life of sin and ungodliness will face judgement’s wrath, but also those who hear the gospel Word and then reject it.
God is a gracious God and His Word tells us of His profound love towards sinful humans. “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9). However, His Word also teaches, even as our text relates, that many reject the grace of God and walk the broad way which leads to everlasting destruction (Matt. 7:13).
At Any Time or Place
At His will, God grants times of visitation to individuals who are without His grace. During a time of visitation, God causes one to pause and consider his or her soul’s condition, death and eternity. It is a time when one’s conscience becomes awakened. The person experiences worry and fear for his or her soul and begins to seek peace.
This visit or call from God can come in different ways and at any time and place. Sometimes deep sorrow and distress, caused by difficult trials, is allowed to overcome in order that one would realize the need for God’s grace and forgiveness. God can and does also call through blessings He allows into one’s life. One such blessing could be when one in unbelief finds believing friends. We can understand that each way of visitation is a special gift from God, because He is calling a person unto repentance and to everlasting salvation. When humble hearts receive the call, God can then lead them to the doors of the kingdom where sins are preached forgiven in the name and blood of Jesus. The power of this gospel brings peace of conscience.
God does not grant moments of visitation all the days of one’s life. His Word teaches of this and the importance to heed and to not reject His call: “Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near” (Isa. 55:6). “Today if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts” (Heb. 3:15). It is a matter of eternal life and death.
A Time of Visitation is Yet at Hand
The time of visitation is yet in our land. We pray that God through His living Word would awaken the hearts of fellow citizens that they with us could be partakers of His grace. We want to be faithful messengers of Christ and carry His gospel with us, to preach repentance and the forgiveness of sins as He has commanded. We can do so with joy and remember that “if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them” (2 Cor. 4:3,4).
We should also pray that sin and evil, prevalent and accepted in our society, would not influence us nor any believer to shipwreck. Instead, may each of us always remember the teaching to endeavor in faith and to preserve this faith in a good conscience, washing sins away through the power of the gospel. When we remain in the fellowship and care of the congregation of God and in unity with the Holy Spirit, we remain in God’s grace and will be protected unto the end.