In Danger of Great Judgment
Text: Matthew 11 : 20 - 30
Did the multitudes from Capernaum know the severe consequences of their rejection of Jesus? A solemn word of warning had to be issued to them concerning the danger they were in if they continued to take a negative attitude with reference to Jesus and all that He did.
“And you, Capernaum, who are exalted to
heaven, will be brought down to Hades; for
if the mighty works which were done in you
had been done in Sodom, it would have
remained until this day. But I say to you
that it shall be more tolerable for the land
of Sodom in the day of judgment than for you.”
1. Reference to the Scriptures
It is interesting to note the language Jesus used to describe the judgment of Capernaum. It was compared with Sodom. A number of things are established as we look at the text.
a) The Reliability of the Scriptures
Jesus believed in the reliability of the Biblical record. Sodom’s destruction, together with its twin city, Gomorrah was recorded in the Book of Genesis (Genesis 18-19). The destruction of Sodom was mentioned as an example of God’s judgment.
b) The Authority of the Scriptures
Not only did Jesus cite the Scriptures because they were reliable, He cited them as authoritative. How certain was He that Capernaum would be judged? As certain as Sodom was mentioned in the Scriptures as a city judged by God!
2. The doctrine of Judgment
Jesus had in passing mentioned judgment before. Let us recall what He said on another occasion.
“But I say to you that whoever is angry with
his brother without a cause shall be in danger
of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother,
‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But
whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire.”
Once again Jesus broaches the subject of judgment. Capernaum, the adopted hometown of Jesus, in which He had performed numerous miracles, had spurned Him! If for “lesser” sins, there would be judgment, how much more would Capernaum be condemned when it rejected Jesus the Messiah!
a) Capernaum’s pride would be wounded severely
Did this major city in Galilee pride itself as being THE leading city in the region? Did it think that it was so great that its name reached up to the heavens? Its pride would be dealt a death blow!
b) Capernaum brought to the lowest depths
The mention of Hades may be seen as a “double reference”. What does this mean?
i) Hades is used in contrast to Heaven.
In this sense, it would refer to the pride of Capernaum being brought so low, it reached Hades (the place of the dead).
ii) Hades is used as a reference to the place of the dead
In this applied sense, Jesus was thinking of the final judgment to come, where Capernaum would be judged and condemned – for all eternity because it had in its foolish pride rejected Jesus as the Messenger of the Covenant.
HOW GOD WILL JUDGE
How will God judge Capernaum? Our understanding of how He would judge this city would give us an important understanding of how He will judge in general.
1. Judgment of actual sins
This would be one of the ways in which God would judge. Capernaum would be judged for its sin of pride, among others.
2. Judgment because of rejection of Jesus
What excuse would Capernaum give for its rejection of Jesus? He had taught in their synagogues and in their streets. He had healed many. He had cast out many demons. However, none of these things were deeply appreciated! Capernaum would be held responsible for its callous attitude.
3. Comparison will be made
God would compare the sins of Capernaum against the sins of Sodom. Between the two, Sodom was guilty of more heinous sins, or so it seemed! Capernaum may not have indulged in the same kind of immorality of Sodom, but their sin of rejection of Jesus was deemed to be far worse!
Sodom did not have the privilege of seeing Jesus heal people! It did not have Jesus minister in their midst! Capernaum on the other hand did! The latter’s judgment would be most severe, because it has no excuse to offer at all.
ETERNITY AT STAKE
What a challenging word this is. Jesus is not to be taken for granted! Rejection of Jesus would have everlasting consequences! How do we personally regard Jesus? Do we recognize Him as both Saviour and Lord?