Repent or… ?

Then Jesus began to denounce the towns in which most of his miracles had been performed, because they did not repent. “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. But I tell you, it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted to the heavens? No, you will go down to Hades. For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Sodom, it would have remained to this day. But I tell you that it will be more bearable for Sodom on the day of judgment than for you.”

Matthew 11:20-24

In these verses, Jesus turns to the towns in which He performed miracles and taught, and noting their lack of repentance, He, well… He let them have it!

I suppose that a commentator can go in multiple directions with this text, but as I see it, there is really only one lesson from this text that is important for us to master: Repentance.

To repent means to turn away from something, in this case it means to turn away from our old way of living, and live for Christ and His Kingdom. I must add a note of caution here; it doesn’t mean to feel bad, it means to do something. You see the difference; right? If I feel bad, I’m not changing anything, I’m just feeling bad. To repent requires action, the turning away from our old ways; we may or may not feel sad or guilty or whatever, we just do.

Imagine what Jesus is saying here: These people who had listened to His teaching and witnessed His miracles, or even received a miraculous healing; they were duly amazed, and then went on with life as usual: It’s hard to believe.

Or is it?

No, come to think of it, it isn’t hard to believe at all; we do it all the time. I know so many preachers who see a problem, and what do they do? Most often, they preach a sermon, maybe even a really great one, and then nothing whatsoever happens and they are discouraged. Everyone who heard the sermon said a loud “Amen!”

Then they went home and carried on in the same way, while thinking their neighbor missed the mark.

So, what lesson should we learn from this text?

Something about a guy with a plank in his eye trying to get a speck of dust from his neighbor’s eye comes to mind, the idea of looking in the mirror comes to mind− are we following Jesus or are we just believing in Him?

Jesus has a little more to say on this subject, and we’ll see what it is next time…

About Don Merritt

A long time teacher and writer, Don hopes to share his varied life's experiences in a different way with a Christian perspective.
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