Spread the Gospel!
Today’s passage focuses our attention on a special place by the Sea of Galilee. Where the Jordan River flows down and feeds into the sea there are three cities.
They are the cities of Chorazin Bethsaida and capernum and these cities and The Villages around them make up what is called the Evangelical triangle
Its called the Evangelical triangle because in this small area Jesus and his disciples lived and ministered. Day in and day out the Son of God walked among these people from Bethsaida to Chorazin from Capernaum to Bethsaida, from Chorazin to the neighboring Village and from there back again to Capernum. Their roads where his roads their Pathways were his pathways. Where they drew water from he drew water from. He was their neighbor.
Here in these cities and in these Villages 75% of what’s written in the four gospels took place. And today these cities have a warning for us.
Great privileges by themselves are not capable of saving anybody from the Judgment of God
Great privileges by themselves cannot save in fact it’s quite the opposite. If the Lord has privileged you it means he’s also giving you a responsibility
In the people that lived in those cities witness to us about a great danger that takes place when Christ comes to a person and that person Remains the Same as they were before .
Jesus was born in Bethlehem and grew up in Nazareth.
And when it became time for him to leave his father’s work shop and to begin openly serving people and proclaiming that the kingdom of heaven was near Jesus did not stay in Nazareth but he left his family and his close friends and moved to a little region in the Northwestern corner of the Sea of gallery to a city called capernum, which was between Chorazin and BBethsaida
And that time but say that had already been around for at least a thousand years
The beseda that Jesus knew was City fortified with walls and a gate it was a rich trade city with a large Market Place in which you could easily find dried fish goats wine olive oil and all kinds of produce and goods from far away places.
It was a city under the control of King herod’s brother Herod Philip who built a Roman temple in the city and later renamed it in his sister’s honor
We know that Peter and his brother Andrew and Philip were from Bethsaida and probably John and his brother James as well.
So you we have five local boys well known in their community, you had friends and connections. These young men left everything to go and follow Jesus.
It’s interesting how that affected the people of that town. How were those young man accepted?
It was there in Bethsaida that the man of that town brought to Jesus a well-known blind man and they brought him to Jesus because they knew, because they knew that Jesus rescued people and they knew that he had Heavenly power.
The song how Jesus opened the eyes of the Blind and gave him sight. They heard Jesus preach in their synagogue and opened the scriptures to them
They’re just beyond the city 5,000 men came to hear the words of Jesus and they listened to him well into the evening they didn’t think to bring with them something to eat so Jesus fed them all with five loaves of bread and 2 fish.
The hoes were the kinds of privileges that the people of bethsaida had.
Now for capernum
Was just three or four miles to the west of bethsaida at the at the edge of the Sea of Galilee where Jesus lived. There among them he witnessed about himself saying, Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.
In capernum Jesus preached daily. So many people wanted to hear Jesus that they couldn’t fit within the synagogue. And so just outside of town a large crowd hiked up to the top of a hill to hear him preach. And there they heard him warn them with the following words
“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few
Four friends brought a paralyzed man to Christ but the crowd was so thick that they couldn’t get in to see him. They had to raise him up on the roof and remove some tiles to lower him in through the ceiling to the feet of Jesus so that he could heal that man.
This also happened in capernum right in front of their eyes. It was also here that Peter’s mother-in-law was healed by Jesus. Many people in that City were alive and well because of Jesus. Everybody knew it
And now Chorazin.
This town was on the Hills of Galilee about two and a half miles north of capernum. Corazon and The Villages are rounded people gathered to listen to the incredible Jesus. No one of the most repeated words in the gospels is crowd. More than 120 times it said that a crowd gathered or a large crowd of people gathered around Jesus. And it wasn’t places exactly like the people loved to listen to him. People want to know who in the world is this man.
These towns weren’t great cities but they weren’t very small either. They’re not far from Jerusalem and the Lord’s Temple there. They had a nice climate with Green Hills and Valleys and they also had a large lake where they had year-round access to water for their crops and flocks.
it was a nice place, place where we would all like to live
It was a triangle of hills and valleys, where everyone had heard the gospel and seen the miracles of Christ. It was a place of glorious tradition. David and Moses and Abraham new these places in Albion in them. And the people of that region for generation after generation read the words of Moses and the prophets. Godhead open up to them and let them know where the sun came from in the sky and where the stars came from at night that God had made them..
They knew why people suffer and die because people are sinful and rebelled against God. From the earliest days of their childhood they were taught what the Creator expected from them, the Creator which promised that he would give someday a messiah, a hero , a savior and that savior would become their Redemption.
They knew about the love of God and about his great Mercy. They had Saturday that blessed Shabbat the Sabbath the day of rest in the Lord. They had the temple in Jerusalem where they learned about forgiveness of sins and the price that it takes. They had the words of the prophet Isaiah which spoke to them,
But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned-every one-to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
So those were the just grandiose amazing privileges of history of tradition of teaching and upbringing. But more than that…
God himself, the creator of Heaven and Earth, the King of Kings, the son of Glory, the brave savior, the Messiah, the long-awaited one came to them.
Laying aside his Heavenly Throne he came down to them the pride of Heaven humbled himself and became a man. Jesus, the Lord of the universe, who made everything by his own power with her visible or invisible in the sky above or in the waters below who has power over Thrones and authorities and governments and they were all created by Him and for him, this Jesus, came to them!
He walked and lived among them
He spoke with them like I’m speaking with you. He had been a guest in their homes. Many of them knew him by name. They knew his voice and they recognized him on the street. Mothers brought their children to him so that he would bless them. Everyday People heard him and were Amazed by his words. He did the biggest and most captivating Miracles among them. He healed them. He gave sight to the Blind and strength to the paralyzed so that they would jump and rejoice. He cast out demons, he cleansed leprosy, he calmed the storm and walked on water, he loosened the tongue of the mute and he gave life to the Dead.
Abraham and David and the prophets they didn’t see such amazing things but the people of this place the people of the Evangelical triangle saw it all
What privileges! What blessings!
Truly God exalted capernum to the heavens
Now those privileges had no good lasting positive influence on those people
They have the word but without faith. They had Moses and the law and the Commandments. They had the Sabbath that blessed rest. They had the synagogue where they gathered together to worship together with Jesus but they didn’t believe in him. They had Witnesses which Christ had given New Life which loudly and joyfully proclaimed to everyone about his amazing Mercy about his power and about his incredible love and about his divine nature.
They had it all and they continued to live just like nothing had happened.
What a tragedy when someone that has healthy Vision can’t see oh that’s a real tragedy. They knew the woman who bled for 12 years, they knew her personally. And when Jesus saved her what did they do? They said oh wow, as if David Copperfield had come to visit them instead of the Lord himself
They knew well the words of the Lord which he spoke through the prophets saying,
for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water.
But when Jesus came with authority and offered them that living water which they desired with their very Soul which they have been looking for their entire life what did they do?
They said wow this really is an incredible man of God and he speaks and he does incredible things but you know what we’ve been drinking water from our broken cisterns for a long time. We’ve grown accustomed to them. We can’t do without them
Now that he’s ugly unbelief.
What more did they want?
What more did they need to hear do they need to be shown for them to borrow their knees before him? They had all of this but it wasn’t enough for them to change
All the privileges in the world don’t have the authority they don’t have the strength to rescue even one person.
Think about it, Cain had Adam and Eve! His parents knew the Creator personally! They walked with him daily they had fellowship with him and they received themselves an amazing Mercy from him. Now it’s that isn’t privilege I don’t know what it is. The wife of lot had a righteous man as her husband and her uncle was Abraham the father of our faith a truly great man. Judas had Jesus. For three years he walked in the presence of the savior. What was the result? Woe to you Judas! I think I remember pastor Matt preaching a sermon called who would name their kid Judas? And obviously the answer is no one. Who would name their child Cain? No one! They are cursed people! They had amazing Privileges and they squander them. Which of them served God? Which of them loved him?
And how about you? Are you still waiting for another miracle? It might sound like a strange question but I think it’s one we ought to ask ourselves.
Sinner, what are you waiting for? Kneel before him! He is gracious and his Mercy lives forever foolishly you are waiting today is the day of salvation.
And you, forgiven man or forgiven woman, you are a saint in Christ what are you waiting for? Show your gratitude today, praise him with your life with your money with your thoughts and with your Deeds, praise him with the way you raise your children praise him with the way you speak to your parents.
What more do you need to be a happy Christian? I don’t mean to rip on you its just a good question to ask the ourselves from time to time. Do we need to see someone raised from the dead before will begin to walk humbly with are gone? No lettuce praise him now in this moment. Today the Lord’s mercies are renewed for you rejoice love your neighbors love those close to you!
These people they saw it all they heard it all they heard the sermons of the Son of God straight from his lips. They watched him they saw him live his life day in and day out they saw others bow down to him and humble themselves before him and they saw those people receive received new life and didn’t matter they didn’t change the way they thought they didn’t turn around they didn’t repent intern to Jesus.
They remain the same unbelievers as they were before Jesus came to them.
Now the next thing that needs to be said next thing that needs to be seen is that the Lord judged their unbelief
What was his reaction to them? Did he just continue to calmly and sweetly love them? No he didn’t. He said to them very sternly very solemnly woe woe to you well to you corazon woe to you Bethsaida.
And that is the heart of this text. Whoa this is a word of pain of suffering of hardship a word of turmoil woe to you. They came to him they followed him they walked long distances to hear him but with their lives they turned their backs toward him.
But he didn’t just cast them to the side. No he didn’t give up, he continued to speak to them but this time in a different fashion.
There’s still time to repent but if you continue in your unbelief then it will be bad for you there will be a frightening curse that Waits For You. Woe to you now and woe to you in the future that’s what you he said there is going to be suffering there is going to be paying that’s what awaits you Bethsaida if you don’t come to me soon.
He spoke that way to them with love. Like a father or mother speaks with their child in the beginning father will help his child and explain to her how to do it and then he’ll tenderly remind her and show her again but if the child doesn’t listen and doesn’t listen and doesn’t listen then the voice of the father changes doesn’t? He’s voice becomes very serious and father will warn and explain to the child one last time and he’ll say that if you don’t listen its going to be bad for you wrote to you is going to be painful you’re going to cry you’re going to wish that you have listened and that warning is the grace of God
And then he says another gracious but sobering word to them. He says it will be more tolerable in that day for Sodom than for that city.
Well, what can be said for Sodom?
Sodom, the city of per version. The people were given completely over to their shameful desires. Was a city of lust. City of darkness which God destroyed with firey rain from heaven. That’s Sodom.
Sodom and Capernum
The dirty rapist and the upstanding Pharisee. For which one will it be more tolerable on the day of judgement? On the one hand you have Kapernick with all of the privileges imaginable and on the other hand you have Sodom that destitute city of Godlessness.
God will look at that one and that one and he will judge. The question is which one of those cities will have a more tolerable judgement day? Both of them are guilty before God but last judgement will come on Sodom or on Capernum? And the answer is Sodom.
The judgment off Sodom will be less horrific than the judgment of Capernaum. Why? Because Sodom didn’t have the privleges…
Sodom had lot. But Capernaum had Peter Andrew Philip James John, witnesses of Christ. Kapernick had Jesus and his sermon on the mount they had his healing hands and his words life giving words. What blessings they had but Kapernick did not confess Christ is Lord.
The greater the privileges the greater the responsibilities. The more blessings which are bestowed without any results the more judgement will be bestowed without mercy.
Think about Tyre and Sidon. They were wealthy cities on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, cities of lawlessness. They were City is which were located within the promise land but which didn’t bother me to Israel. And Jesus compared them to Chorazin and Bethsaida. Which were also well to do cities on the coast of a sea, the sea of gallalie. Tyre and Sidon we’re not Jewish cities the question is what needed to happen for them to become peaceful? What did they need to do or what needed to happen for them to become pleasing to God for them to become full of love for Christ? All that was needed for that to happen was for them to see what happened in Chorazin Bethsaida and Capernaum.
Well okay, but let’s think about ourselves.
What sort of privileges has God given to us? Have you been blessed with knowledge? Has God not giving you sight to see his creation and a mind to understand it and worship Him for it? Billions of people with their good site look on the wonders that God has made but do not see him in them and do not see the beauty of the creator and they do not worship Him for it.
We are surrounded by witnesses of Christ. The people around us they wear crosses around their neck they have tattooed on their arms and on our way home tonight we will pass at least a couple churches. Have you not been talk to read don’t you have free access to the word of God in a language the you understand. Many people still don’t have that. Don’t you have access to this church where the Scriptures are preached to you faithfully?
Many of you we’re blessed with a Christian upbringing you had parents who were believers and if you didn’t, you had friends and acquaintances and coworkers they were witnesses of God’s grace.
And the one reason or another God puts you in this country country founded on the principal’s found in the Holy Scriptures to by people that had a fear of the Lord. You had family members and neighbors the were believers which people all around the world still do not have to this day. That is a privilege you might not ever fully realize.
You are a blessed people. God is close to you and he speaks to you but the one was truly blessed is not the one who listens to God’s Word but the one who listens and keeps his word.
To you belong the words of the prophet “Seek the LORD while he may be found; call upon him while he is near.
Seek the Lord and call upon him. It will be easier for the person who never heard about Jesus then the one who heard everything that you heard and saw everything that you saw but turned his back on God and went his own way.
God will judge both of them, but the the greater judgment will always belong to the one who had the greater blessing. As Christ himself said, But the one who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, will receive a light beating. Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.
It is better to live a sinful life in that filthy city of Sodom then to live in unbelief in the Blessed city of capernum. So the best option is to throw aside all unbelief from yourself! To believe every day, every day throughout the entire day, to believe and to be faithful in that which God has given you.
Has he given you his son? Then kiss him. Honor him. Trust him.
Did he give you his word? Read it. Know it. Keep it
Has he given you life and power and strength and health? Praise him with your life today.
The people of bethsaida we’re not like the people of Nazareth. People were ready to kill their Messiah it said that that’s where they led him to the edge of the village and we’re ready to throw him from the rocks. We don’t hear anything about that sort of hostilities that sort of rebellion against Jesus in the cities of the Evangelical triangle. In fact, it’s quite the opposite, the people in these places were Amazed by Jesus. At least 45 times in the gospels it’s written that people were impressed by Jesus that they were amazed. Everyone was in awe of him, of his words, his disciples were, his parents, the teachers of the people, and the the nation itself, as well as strangers. Everyone was amazed by his words and his power but few bowed down to him and repented.
It would be better to have never seen the healing of the blind man then to see it and wonder but you go your own way never having truesight yourself. It would be better to be ill and sick your entire life and never be healed, then to receive a miraculous healing and not give God the glory for it. Not to be overjoyed for it.
Pray to the Lord like that desperate man who brought his demon-possessed son to Jesus and Shout It Out I believe! Help my unbelief.
Only by faith can a person say such words as help my unbelief.
And that’s the way it always goes, just as God gives Faith to a person just the seeds of Faith, then they begin to see how great their unbelief is and they begin to see how great their need is in a great and powerful and mighty savior.
You know people look at the surface and they judge one another, but God looks at the heart of a person and not just the visible aspects. And first of all more than anything else he looks at us to see what each of us how each of us in our heart treats or or responds to his beloved Son. Do you think that the Lord is looking from heaven and searching for his own and he says oh yeah that’s them right there they look really nice and they represent themselves well and people respect them and think good things about them so those must be my children.
No that’s absurd, he looks at our hearts whether we hate our sins or not, whether we’re ashamed when we consider ourselves better than others. He judges are fantasies he judges our thoughts, our plans, our desires.
We don’t have to stick our fists in the air and shake them at God and declare war, we don’t have to spit in the face of Jesus, you don’t have to be a criminal oh, it is completely enough to just go to church and speak about Jesus with respect wow all the time not worshipping him with your life not worshipping him for the beautiful great Majestic Creator God that he is. It is enough to do nothing at all just to look at Christ and in your heart remain un moved.
That is the wide path that leads to destruction. There is no other sin like the sin of disbelief of unbelief which so quietly and so softly curses and dams the human soul.
God opened himself to you he showed himself to you he gave you his teaching he showed you his righteousness, his faithfulness, he is Mercy, Grace and love. She has shown you how the lives of people have changed when they’ve come to Christ and throwing themselves at his feet. What more do we want from God before we will believe, before we will trust him with our day-to-day lives? Before we will give ourselves over completely without hesitation without Shame?
In the letter to the Hebrews the author describes the glory of Jesus Christ and then he stops and with a very Stern voice he addresses the church and he says, Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God.
Here is the word the guy that has for us today, take care Brothers lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief
Now before some of you start to get a bit defensive it’s important to mention here, and to realize that he considers it needed he considers it important to warn those people, which confess our holy Christian faith, people who consider themselves believers.
Listen carefully to the word and it will bring prophet it will be useful to you and it will bear fruit.
The Lord says take care brothers and sisters, lest there be in you an evil heart of unbelief. Leading you to fall away from the Living God.
Auburn is not sidon or Tire or Sodom. No, among us there are many moral and religious people, just as there were in the first century in the Evangelical triangle. Just like back then, the biggest stumbling block for good upstanding citizens is that word which says to them that they need cleansing from their sins, that good people are a myth, that good people don’t exist there is no such thing, that we don’t forgiveness not a single person will enter the kingdom of heaven.
That stumbling-stone is the very foundation stone for those who believe the stone the foundation on which true and eternal life is built. It’s the stone of repentance the foundation of forgiveness the rock of cleansing what a blessing it is to be built on such strong ground!
That is the gospel, did we sinful people people that fight against God that they hate him but he! Rescues Sinners and gives us new life and and lets us see our guilt, our filthiness and he takes us in his hands and he cleans us and he washes us and he gives us the grace to come to him and to love him and to be loved by him.
But the cities of that Evangelical triangle were flourishing a respectable religious cities. They thought that the rough sermon of Jesus about Sin and faith and repentance and and the need to take one’s cross on himself was for those evil Godless people and not for well-educated moral people like they considered themselves.
He said that they were Sinners and they needed to repent from their sins and turn back to God and receive forgiveness for the kingdom of heaven was near. They did not like that diagnosis. Not at all. He offended them with his words because they were proud of their own righteousness.
And because of that it will not go well for them on the Judgment Day. On that day the Lord will say to them, I gave you my son! Abraham and Moses and the prophets they wished with their whole Hearts to see and to hear what I let you see in here. Did you bow down to my Jesus? Did you love him? Did you live for him? What have you done with my son? And the Lord will say to them away from me Woe Is You eternal tears, in suffering and the gnashing of teeth is what awaits you so is you
I don’t know what sort of privileges you have and how many and how big or how few and how small they are what’s important is what she’ll do with the Privileges that God has blessed you with.
So what do we say, what do we do, what do we take away from this?
Well first of all for all of the Believers here, whether your faith is big or small. God Gave You that faith. And regardless how much we would like it to not be so each of us also has unbelief or disbelief in our hearts. Don’t presume don’t pretend like you don’t, that’s foolishness, for unbelief is the very root of each and every one of your sins.
Take heed, take care, search out every bit of disbelief inside of you and root it out ruthlessly! Pray to your father in Heaven that he would help your unbelief.
Acknowledge your privileges and own them own the gifts that God has given you and hope not in your privileges but place your hope in the Lord and remember you’re not privileged just because but there is a reason that God has blessed you. God is generous and he loves to give good gifts but for every gift that he gives whether that is life, or money, or knowledge, or health, or faith, or opportunity, or parents, or talents, or understanding, or repentance, for every gift God expects a result, he expects fruit.
The most important thing is that you believe in him that you love him and you place your hope daily on him. And then that you would endlessly for all the days of your life grow in that faith in that love and in that hope. That you would accept all the gifts of God with Thanksgiving and praise him with your very life. Did you would sing to the Lord a song of Praise a living song, made up not of notes and beets but of thoughts and actions and emotions.
And when it is hard when the going gets tough no that he who began a good work in you will see it through to the end to the last day when Christ comes to finish it.
And for and for those of you who, If we’re honest, don’t believe, for those of you who have a Stony heart who don’t understand what it means to love God, well I know that we would like to think that none of us are such people, but the truth is some are, and all of us are to a certain degree. Who knows, maybe you come to church for the sake of your spouse, maybe you call yourself a Christian because you are part of a Christian family. I don’t know. There are hundreds of stupid and horrible reasons to call yourself a Christian when you don’t have faith. Maybe you’re here today just because someone invited you or someone guilted you into coming, but the truth is, it’s not so important how or why you came tonight, what’s really important is that you wouldn’t leave here with an unbelieving heart leading you to fall away from the Living God! Don’t do that I beg of you! Jesus came not to judge but to do for Sinners what we could not do for ourselves. He came to save and to take upon himself the sins of horrible people and to hold them tight and to wash them and to forgive them and to take them into the family of God so the day could become children beloved by God.
Don’t forget today’s word. Don’t throw a side precious gift of repentance value it above all else search for God seek the Lord while he may be found call on him while he is near. Call out to him help my on belief!
Spread the Gospel!