Good morning, happy Tuesday, and many blessings.
Today’s Gospel (Matthew 11:20-24) is a difficult one to read. Jesus’ instruction to his disciples is pretty disturbing Jesus denounces the cities of Chorazin and Bethsaida for refusing to believe in him despite the wonders they had seen him work.
In a passage that has so many specific ideas (judgment, revelation, miracles, rest and the like), it is a little more difficult to get the main idea clear. But I think if you see the flow of the passage toward the invitation the idea will emerge. The passage culminates in the clear teaching that the way to find spiritual rest for the soul is to believe in Christ Jesus.
He alone reveals God. And the reason that they can know that He reveals God is because He did the miracles. Or to put it in the order Matthew has it: The miracles of Jesus revealed that He was the Lord, and as the Lord He alone could reveal God, and so if people place their spiritual lives in His care by faith they would find eternal rest. The dark side of this is that those who do not repent of their sins miss the meaning of the miracles, do not know God, and will not find rest for their souls.
Jesus spent a good deal of His time preaching in these and other towns and doing most of His mighty works in this area. The people were glad to listen to Jesus, they were delighted that He healed so many of them, and they were pleased to be fed when He multiplied the food. Biblical scholars often refer to the first year of Jesus in this region of the Galilee as the year of His popularity. The people wanted to make Him king.
So why was Jesus denouncing the people now? Because they would not repent. He had not been doing the miracles to meet their physical needs alone. He had not been teaching them about the kingdom to gain political support. He had been ministering among them to bring them to salvation, and that began with their repentance. People like the idea of religion if it gives them what they want, or if it makes them feel comfortable in their lives. But, when it calls for repentance, they feel disappointed.
So, Christ’s invitation called for a radical change and made staggering promises. The choice was between the burden of submission to the Law as enforced by Pharisaical regulations and the rest in coming under the authority of Jesus, the one who not only reveals God but guarantees access to Him.
I wonder if Jesus is ever tempted to “denounce” us for not recognizing or appreciating the wonders he is working in our lives and in our world? It is so easy to become jaded. Do we see the many wonders Jesus is working in our world and our lives? Do we even look for them? Or are we so anesthetized with our daily routine that our minds, eyes and hearts are closed to the many wonders in our world? If so, how sad that is! There is so much goodness and beauty in people and in our world. However, we need to have open eyes, minds and hearts to truly see all this goodness!