Woes for the Hard in Heart


Woes for the Hard in Heart
Matthew 11:20–24 “I tell you that it will
be more tolerable on the day of
judgment for the land of Sodom than for you”
(v. 24).

Matthew 11 focuses on the rising opposition to Jesus’ mission.
Although John
the Baptist’s question about the Lord’s true identity is not
intended to
oppose Him (because he does not go past doubt to unbelief, vv.
1–15), note
that such doubting, if not handled properly, is the first step
apostasy. Many religious leaders in Jesus’ day go farther down this
path and
become outright enemies of John and Jesus (9:32–34; 11:16–19).
Finally, as
seen in today’s passage, many common folk begin showing hostility
to the

We have seen in the last few chapters examples of
individuals who trusted
Jesus and were blessed (8:5–13; 9:20–22). However,
people like the Roman
centurion and the hemorrhaging woman are not
necessarily representative of the
great crowds that have heard the Savior
(8:1). These faithful people are the
exception according to Matthew 11:20–24,
not the rule. Jesus has done “mighty”
miracles throughout Galilee
(exemplified in the towns of Corazin, Bethsaida,
and Capernaum), but the
populace as a whole has failed to repent.

That these villages have
committed an especially heinous sin in rejecting
Jesus is clear in their
promised fate, which will be worse than that of three
exceptionally wicked
cities. The Old Testament prophets frequently denounced
Tyre and Sidon (Ezek.
26–28; Zech. 9:1–4) for their worship of idols and for
taking pride in
wealth. Sodom’s rampant wickedness is well-known (Gen. 19).
The Galilee of
Jesus’ day may not be guilty of such evils, but their
punishment on Judgment
Day will be worse because, unlike Tyre, Sidon, and
Sodom, they have seen that
Jesus is the agent of God’s salvation and yet have
rejected Him. In this
passage, our Savior tells us that greater knowledge
brings greater
responsibility. As Matthew Henry says, “The stronger
inducements we have to
repent, the more heinous is the unrepentance and the
severer will the
reckoning be.”

Matthew 11:20–24 seems to teach us there will be degrees
of punishment in
hell. Although all unrepentant sinners will suffer for
eternity, those who
have been exposed to the Gospel and have rejected it will
suffer more
intensely than those sinners who have never heard (Luke

Coram deo: Living before the face of
All of us are children of
wrath from the moment of conception and deserve only
eternal, conscious
punishment for our sins apart from God’s gracious renewal
of our hearts to
trust in His Son. Nevertheless, the sufferings of hell will
be greater for
those who know more of the Father’s plan and character and yet
remain in sin.
No matter how difficult this may be for us to understand (Luke
20:45–47), the
more we know, the more accountable we will be.

For further

Job 34:10–11

The Bible in a year:

1 Kings 15–16

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