Matthew 11:20-24 – Jesus, Being That Friend Who Shoot Straight With Us!

Posted: December 12, 2015 in Gospel of Matthew

Matthew 11:20-24
Woe to Unrepentant Towns

Have you ever had a friend that was a real friend? That friend that will tell you that you are full of bullcrap when you are really full of it. That friend who will shoot straight with you when you need someone to shoot straight with you and get you back on track. We all need a friend like that! Most of us choose friends and only keep those friends who tell us what we want to hear. Jesus is that friend here in this passage that tells us like it really is when he says, in Matthew 11:20-24,
20 Then Jesus began to denounce the towns in which most of his miracles had been performed, because they did not repent. 21 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. 22 But I tell you, it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you. 23 And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted to the heavens? No, you will go down to Hades.[a] For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Sodom, it would have remained to this day. 24 But I tell you that it will be more bearable for Sodom on the day of judgment than for you.”
Wow, Jesus be layin’ the wood to those folks back then! Jesus had a way of being direct, did He not? But ya know, when you read this passage, you could take out the ancient city names and insert your own local towns! Woe to you, Duncan, SC. Woe to you Lyman, SC. Woe unto you Spartanburg, SC! And woe unto you, Greenville, SC! Jesus is not sugarcoating here. Jesus is not the peace-love-dove 1960’s zin master that we want to make Him out to be today in a world that lives on a slippery moral slope and anything goes. Here, we see the Jesus of justice as well as the Jesus of love. This passage is raw truth. It is justice mixed with love. As Ross Cochrane says in his sermon, “Slow-Cooked or Char-grilled?”, “Jesus isn’t the SWEET, DREAMY-EYED, EFFEMINATE MAN with a spiritual song in His voice like a “LET’S-PLEASE-EVERYONE” kind of preacher. He lays it on the line and I detect that it’s not without emotional heart wrenching sorrow at their stubborn refusal to get right with God.” This passage points right at us today. And gives us two very important lessons we must carry forward from here. First, we live in a country where we have no excuse for not knowing of Jesus Christ. Second, we must not take the declining Jesus quotient in the world as a reason to withdraw from it.

Jesus pulled no punches in this passage so I am going to get right to the point too. We live in a country that was founded on principles of religious freedom. It was founded by men who did not want the government telling us how we should worship. It was founded by men who believed in Jesus Christ. Our country began and thrived as a nation because almost to the man each of us believed in the power of God in our lives. We were a Jesus-centric nation with a high Jesus quotient. I have no doubt that our nation over the last two centuries has been blessed beyond what we deserve because we were, in general, a God-fearing nation. Something happened along the way here in the latter half of the last century and the first fifteen years of this century in which we have drifted away from God. We have become a nation that has turned its back on God. We have made ourselves gods now. You and I judge what is right. We have made Jesus our peace-loving anything goes buddy. Jesus accepts us and never judges us. When we have a Jesus like that, we can justify any behavior. Jesus will love me anyway. Adultery, hey, it’s ok. Sex as sport, hey its ok. Homosexuality, it’s ok. Jesus just wants me to be happy. Greed, it’s ok. Materialism, it’s ok. Abortion, it’s ok. Jesus loves me no matter what I do. Jesus is there to support you. Jesus has nothing but love for ya, brother. Nothing but love. We have stripped away all the parts of the Bible we dislike and are left with a pamphlet of a Bible that only contains the love of Jesus and none of his judgment. We are a nation without excuse. We know the whole story of the Bible yet we choose to ignore it so that we can live the way our heart desires. We are a nation without excuse. We were founded on Christian principles. We are a nation without excuse. We have churches in every town. We are nation without excuse. We have churches on every corner. We are a nation without excuse. We have Bibles in virtually every home. We have heard the Word preached. We have been evangelized for generations. We have absolutely no excuse. We know Jesus. We have no excuse. How are we going to fare on judgment day when we have known the truth and refused to obey it? We know of the justice of God but have rationalized it away that all that old hellfire and brimstone stuff is of the ignorant past. We are enlightened now. God is a god of love and never would condemn us to some place that we think of as fictional now – hell! We have made Jesus into something palatable for our generation where there is no condemnation for disobedience to God. Jesus is self-help guru to us now. He is only there to make us feel better about ourselves. There is no judgment in Him. We have removed the judgment from Jesus. Why? So we can live the way that we want to live. If it were up to us, I would be writing about nothing right now. This passage is clearly against the Jesus that our culture has created. We ignore the Jesus of judgment. We would remove this passage from the Bible. Jesus, condemn people? That’s not my Jesus. My Jesus is peace-loving flower child, many would say today! How can we align that Jesus with this Jesus in this passage? We cannot so we ignore it. We rip those pages out of the Bible and only keep the parts where Jesus is Jesus of all encompassing love. He is those things, yes, but He is also a Jesus of justice. We know the truth. It is wired in us to know God’s truth. That is why we have to justify our sins away. Just think about the gay marriage issue. There are reams of articles, books, and speeches. There are reams of justifications in court documents. We have gone so far as to have to legally justify it and bring court cases when we can’t get our way about it. We claim discrimination when we don’t get our way about it. We fill television with commercials, television shows, and movies to spread the idea that it is acceptable and right. We have to make a big show about it to justify it as natural. However, male-female marriage needs no hyperbole, no justification, no court cases, no television, no media support for we all know that it is right and ordained by God as the natural order of things. That is just one of the many issues of our day that we have turned a deaf ear to the judgment of God. We want to live the way we want to live so we must turn away from God. Yet, making God go away does not make Him not exist. Making Jesus a peace-loving hippie guru does not take away the truth of His judgment. We know the truth but we refuse to believe. Jesus says right here that there is judgment coming. He says that there is judgment coming for those who think they have got it all figured out and have made Jesus into a cute lil puppy just to justify the lusts of our hearts. We know the truth but we ignore it. Jesus says that is the worst thing of all – to know the truth of Jesus Christ but to ignore it. We are a nation on a collision course with the judgment of God, yet, we ignore the truth that we are wired in our hearts to know.

What does that mean for you and I as Christ followers? I’m afraid for most of us we have taken on a “to hell with it” mentality. We have taken on the mentality that all is lost so let’s withdraw from the world. We have become like the guys in the booth that call the football games on television. We provide the play by play and the color commentary about the game that is going on below us but we are not out there on the playing field. On Facebook, you can see this mentality of Christ followers being played out. We sit back in the comfort of our homes behind our computer screens and lament how our nation is going to hell in a handbasket. We provide the play by play of it all. We provide the color commentary of why our nation is sliding down into God’s judgment. We are basically bunkering down and just peeking out the doors. We are not in the world. We are not trying to change it. We lament of the godless leaders we have but yet half of us don’t vote. We lament of the decaying moral fiber of our nation. But where are we? Are we trying to change it? We lament that the world thinks that we are hypocrites even though they do not know us. We lament how ineffective our churches are. We lament how we wish the church could really make a difference in the world. Yet, we strap the hands of the church by not giving to her in a sacrificial way with our time, talents, and, especially, our resources. We lament that the world is not what it once was so we give up on it. We, each one of us who has been saved by grace through faith, know that there is judgment awaiting for those who do not know Jesus Christ. We sit quietly. We don’t want to be singled out. We just want to be happy that we are saved and await the day we are delivered from all this mess. What are we doing? You and I, what are we doing? How much do we hate our fellow man to just write him off to the judgment of hell that we know is real. You and I know that we are sinners saved from an eternity in hell only by the grace of Jesus Christ in whom we have placed our faith. How much do we have to hate our neighbor not to shoot straight with him about eternity? This prize that we have in the grace of Jesus Christ is not something to be kept to ourselves like a little kid with his favorite toy. We are to share this good news. We are not to bunker down in our bunkers and ride this thing out. We are to be out in the world changing it one person at a time. It is not somebody else’s job to share the gospel. It is ours. It is not just your pastor’s job. It is my job. It is yours. We know the judgment that comes to all without Jesus Christ. We know the judgment that awaits those who are disobedient to God. We need to be a people not hiding out in the mountains. We need to be out in the streets getting to know the people in this world that have turned their backs on God and have embraced the god of their own creation. We must be one on one telling people of the grace of Jesus Christ that saves us from the judgment that is coming that we are as a nation ignoring. Let us be a generation that drives the nation back to God one person at a time. Let us be a nation that makes the grace and forgiveness found in Jesus Christ more well known instead of a generation that missed it opportunity to speak of Jesus. Judgment is coming. Jesus wants us to know straight up that judgment comes. How much do we have to hate our fellow man to simply write them off. We must love them so much that we do not want to see them go to hell. We must lead the nation to the cross one person at a time. We must care. We must not withdraw. We must fight the fight. We must actively engage the culture and not withdraw from it. We must never tire of the fight. We must be the team in the fourth quarter of the last game of season that wills its way to victory on sheer guts. We must never tire. We must never give up. Never ever give up on the gospel message. Your neighbors, your friends, your enemies, all of the people that do not know Christ, their eternity is in the balance.

Father help us to change the world and point it to the cross of Jesus Christ. Help us to never tire in this battle. Help us to keep up the march. Help us to be your soldiers and the bearers of your Word every day, every where. Amen and Amen.

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