AN EXPOSITION OF MATTHEW 11:20-30

20 Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not:

The word “then” indicates that Jesus began to deliver a different kind of message than the people had been hearing up to this point. It is a message of strong warning and judgment.

The reason for the warning of Retributive Justice is “because they repented not.” It was not because of their sensuality they were condemned, though unbridled passion is a great transgression.

It was not for their legalism, or self-righteousness the cities were upbraided, but “because they repented not.” They were indifferent to the Messiah.

To repent (metanoeo) means, “to think differently”. The gospel demands that a person think differently about oneself. Specifically, self is not good, but a sinner who must confess transgression. A person must think differently about the way of salvation. It is not by works of righteousness that a person is saved, but by God’s mercy, and by His grace, alone. A person must think different about Jesus. Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God.

The Condemnation of Chorazin

21 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.

While there is no record of mighty works being done in Chorazin and Bethsaida, it does not mean that no miracles were performed there in light of John 21:25. “And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen.”

What is certain is that the attribute of divine omniscience in Christ is manifested with these words. Jesus knows not only what will happen, but what might have happened alternatively. Only God has such comprehensive knowledge.

If asked, “Why were mighty works not done in Tyre and Sidon if they would have repented in sackcloth and ashes?”, the biblical response is, “Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight.” The secret decrees of God belong only to Him.

That Jesus Christ, the Savior, is actively hidden from certain men is the teaching of Scripture.

22 But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you.

Because of the greater spiritual light and gospel privileges these cities had than Tyre and Sidon, the greater their responsibility, and so the more intense the judgment.

Judgment on Capernaum

23 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.

24 But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the Day of Judgment, than for thee.

There will be a Day of Judgment. There will be Divine Reprobation. The Doctrine of Reprobation is one of the most difficult concepts to accept, but the Scripture is clear, God chooses who will be saved. God chooses who shall receive the gospel, and to whom it shall be hid.

“Reprobation” is from the Latin, reprobatio, and means, “to condemn as unworthy, to find unacceptable, to reject”. The term is used in Christian theology to describe those who are rejected by God and left in their fallen human nature to sin, and to be eternally damned. Because God is under no obligation to save anyone, after the Fall, it is only in matchless grace He chooses to save some. The reprobate, those rejected by God, are the disapproved ones, the condemned, the censured.

A Great Thanksgiving Prayer of Jesus

25 At that time Jesus answered and said, 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.

Question. “What was hid from the wise and prudent?”

Answer. The fact that Jesus was the Messiah, based on His mighty works, was hid from the wise, or clear minded, and prudent, or sagacious.

Question. “What was revealed unto babes?”

Answer. The fact that Jesus was the Messiah, based on His mighty works, was revealed unto spiritually dependent “babes”. 

A principle is established. The same sun which hardens the clay, melts the butter. The same miracles which hardened the hearts of so many in Chorazin, Bethesda, and Capernaum, melted the hearts of other individuals.

The truth of God is revealed to those who are dependent upon God for the knowledge of the truth. Wise men will look to science, the stars, or self for clear answers to the great questions of life. A spiritual babe will look to God.  

Now, during the days of His life on earth, Jesus offered up prayers and petitions, sometimes with loud cries and tears (Heb. 5:7). Consider,

The Prayers of Jesus

Jesus prayed a prayer of thanksgiving for Divine concealment and revelation (Matt. 11:25-27).

Jesus prayed a prayer of earnest petition that He be spared drinking His cup of suffering and sorrow (Matt. 26:39).

Jesus prayed a prayer of personal anguish and despair (Matt. 27:46; Mark 15:34).

Jesus prayed a prayer of commitment (Luke 23:46).

Jesus prayed a prayer of mercy for His crucifiers (Luke 23:34).

Jesus prayed of anticipatory sorrow after entering Jerusalem (John 12:27-28).

Jesus prayed a prayer of resurrection (John 11:41-43).

Jesus prayed a prayer of respect for the Father to be glorified (John 17:1-5).

Jesus prayed a prayer forHis disciples (John 17:6-19).

Jesus prayed a prayer forall believers (John 17:20-26).

Jesus prayed a prayer of thanksgiving for the power given to His disciples (Luke 10:21-22).

Jesus prayed a prayer of glory for God (John 12:27, 28).

Jesus prayed a prayer of conversion for Peter (Luke 22:31-34).

Jesus prayed a prophetic prayer over Jerusalem (Matt. 23:37-39; Luke 19:41-44).

Jesus prayed a prayer of Passover blessing (Matt. 26:26-29).

When Did Jesus Pray?

Jesus prayed on the night of His birth in Bethlehem (Heb. 10:5).

Jesus prayed at His baptism (Luke 3:21, 22).

Jesus prayed during His wilderness temptation (Matt. 4:1).

Jesus prayed early before His first preaching engagement in Galilee (Mark. 1:35-39).

Jesus prayed before choosing His disciples (Luke 6:12-13).

Jesus prayed when asked to teach His disciples how to pray (Matt. 6:9-13; Luke 11:1).

Jesus prayed before eating (John 6:11; Matt. 14:19, 20).

Jesus prayed before feeding four thousand people (Mark 8:6).

Jesus prayed after feeding the 5,000 (Matt. 14:22, 23).

Jesus prayed while healing a deaf man (Mark 7:32-37).

Jesus prayed after healing a leper (Luke 5:16).

Jesus prayed during His transfiguration (Luke 9:28-35).

Jesus prayed when children were brought to Him and He blessed them (Mark 10:16).

Jesus prayed when in the Garden of Gethsemane knowing that He would soon face crucifixion (Matt. 26:39-46; Mark 14:32-42).

Jesus prayed when He met with two disciples going to a village called Emmaus (Luke 24:28-30).

Jesus prayed at His ascension. Jesus continues to pray for His people as our Great High Priest (Luke 24:50-51; Rom. 8:34; 1 John 2:1; Heb. 7:25; 5:7).

The Father’s Sovereign Grace

26 Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight.

There is a divine predestination of all things. Nothing happens by chance.

A Trinitarian Claim

27 All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him.

When Jesus said that “all things are delivered” unto Him by the Father, He meant that in the absolute sense. It is Jesus who has all knowledge. It is Jesus who has all power over Satan, over nature in order to heal, and over death itself. It is Jesus who will judge the world. It is Jesus who has intimate knowledge of the Father which is unknown to any other except Jesus reveals the Father to that person.

Question. “Has Jesus revealed the Father to you? Do you know God in the totality of His essence? Can you call God, Father? Do you?”

If Jesus reveals the Father to you, you shall be saved. It is Jesus who decides to whom He will reveal the Father so that it can be said that we are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. Salvation is of God, lest any mans should boast (Eph. 2:8, 9).

28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

There is no other person an individual can go to for salvation for there is no other name given under heaven whereby we must be saved. Many people do not believe this, and so they labor to be saved, not by grace, but by good works and acts of self-righteousness.

The Jews labored under the Law of Moses. The Muslims labor under the Koran. The Hindus labor under the Vedas. These all lay a heavy burden on individuals, and give them no rest for a defiled conscience.

“O soul, are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There’s a light for a look at the Savior,
And life more abundant and free!

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.”

Helen H. Lemmel

The rest that Jesus gives is a salvific rest from trying to earn or deserve salvation. It is a theological rest. There can be a cessation of striving about the Law. It is a Messianic rest within the secure kingdom of heaven. It is an eternal rest in the arms of God.

“So, let the storms rage high
The dark clouds rise
They don’t worry me
For I’m sheltered safe within the arms of God.”

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.

30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

By leaving our burden we shall find rest, and by taking the Lord’s burden, we shall find rest. If anyone will leave the “yoke” of the Law, they will find rest provided they do not go back under the Law. Paul told the Galatians.

“Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage” (Gal. 5:1).

The relationship of the believer to Christ is not a burden, but the basis for true freedom. There is freedom from the power, pollution, and penalty of sin.

There is the story of a little boy who was carrying a still smaller boy on his back. The littlest boy was lame. A man said, “That’s a heavy burden for you to carry.” “That’s no’a burden,” said the little Scottish boy. “That’s me wee brother.”

“Guided by love, the burdens of life are no longer burdens. And in relationship to the Lord Jesus, the burdens of the yoke of the Lord Jesus are no burdens. They’re joys. And they make life worth living” (S. Lewis Johnson).

Come to Christ. The invitation is not to come to a church, a congregation, a baptism, or a good work. Come to Christ.

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