Skip to main content

Condemnation & Comfort

Jesus calls out the unfaithfulness of the Jews, but also offers a message of hope and comfort.

Written by David Steltz on .

Notes

Introduction

Today we are continuing in Matthew chapter eleven.

Jesus just got done sending John the Baptist's disciples back with a message for John in prison, essentially saying yes, I am the Messiah, and then talking up John saying he’s the greatest prophet ever, and in verse 14 he says

Matthew 11:14–15 CSB
14 And if you’re willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who is to come. 15 Let anyone who has ears listen.

In other words, if you’re willing to accept it, John is the one who ushered in the Messiah!

In other words, “I am the Messiah!”

If you have ears, try hearing.

That’s verse 15.

Then in verse 16 he calls out the majority of the population, the people who chose to close their ears, to reject Jesus.

After proclaiming John to be the greatest prophet of all, he then refers to the great prophets of old, and compares his situation with theirs.

Let’s read beginning in verse 16:

Passage

Matthew 11:16–19 CSB
16 “To what should I compare this generation? It’s like children sitting in the marketplaces who call out to other children: 17 We played the flute for you, but you didn’t dance; we sang a lament, but you didn’t mourn! 18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon!’ 19 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.”

Mike covered through those verses last week, but in verse 20 he continues:

Matthew 11:20–24 CSB
20 Then he proceeded to denounce the towns where most of his miracles were done, because they did not repent: 21 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented in sackcloth and ashes long ago. 22 But I tell you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you. 23 And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? No, you will go down to Hades. For if the miracles that were done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until today. 24 But I tell you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom on the day of judgment than for you.”

The Places

Jesus mentions several specific places, specific towns in this passage. Verse 20 says that he denounced the cities where “most” of his mighty works had been done, because they did not repent.

Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum.

Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum

Chorazin and Bethsaida were both towns near Capernaum, so I think in this context he’s really lumping them all together and comparing them to other cities which would also be lumped together when considering God’s judgment against them.

His message to them is: “Woe to you!” This is a classic prophetic phrase which indicates that disaster will befall these places, that divine judgement is in store for them, which will result in desolation and ruin.

“Woe to you.” Another way to say this would be “You ought to be utterly grief stricken, desperate, and terrified, because of what’s coming to you, because of your lack of repentance.”

Interestingly, the gospels do not describe any of the miracles that took place in Chorazin and only two of the ones in Bethsaida, even though verse 20 says that “most” of his miracles were done in these towns! This is just a reminder that what we have in the New Testament is a representative group of examples from Jesus’s ministry, certainly not an exhaustive one.

In fact, John says at the end of his gospel account:

John 21:25 CSB
25 And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which, if every one of them were written down, I suppose not even the world itself could contain the books that would be written.

This is a good thing to keep in perspective when studying the gospels and contemplating the works of Christ.

Tyre & Sidon

So, he calls out these cities in which he performed most of his miracles…Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum in verse 23.

And he compares them to three other cities: Tyre, Sidon, and Sodom. Why these cities?

Tyre & Sidon were both powerful gentile cities northwest of Israel on the Mediterranean coast. Why would they be associated with God’s judgment?

Part of it goes back to 1 Kings 16...

This describes the sin of King Ahab, king of Israel, who married a princess of Sidon. Her name was Jezebel, and she influenced the king to worship gods other than Yahweh.

​1 Kings 16:31–33 CSB
31 Then, as if following the sin of Jeroboam son of Nebat were not enough, he married Jezebel, the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians, and then proceeded to serve Baal and bow in worship to him. 32 He set up an altar for Baal in the temple of Baal that he had built in Samaria. 33 Ahab also made an Asherah pole. Ahab did more to anger the Lord God of Israel than all the kings of Israel who were before him.

King Ahab did more to anger Yahweh than ALL the kings of Israel before him! And that’s honestly saying a lot, because there were some very bad kings before Ahab! 

And at least part of his corruption is attributed to his queen Jezebel, the Sidonian. 

These were cities that corrupted Israel, and influenced them to turn away to other gods.

We’re going to take a rather deep dive into just how wicked these cities were and the severity of judgment that was pronounced against them.

In Isaiah 23, we can read an extensive prophesy against both Tyre & Sidon:

Isaiah 23 NLT
1 This message came to me concerning Tyre: Wail, you trading ships of Tarshish, for the harbor and houses of Tyre are gone! The rumors you heard in Cyprus are all true. 2 Mourn in silence, you people of the coast and you merchants of Sidon. Your traders crossed the sea, 3 sailing over deep waters. They brought you grain from Egypt and harvests from along the Nile. You were the marketplace of the world. 4 But now you are put to shame, city of Sidon, for Tyre, the fortress of the sea, says, “Now I am childless; I have no sons or daughters.” 5 When Egypt hears the news about Tyre, there will be great sorrow. 6 Send word now to Tarshish! Wail, you people who live in distant lands! 7 Is this silent ruin all that is left of your once joyous city? What a long history was yours! Think of all the colonists you sent to distant places. 8 Who has brought this disaster on Tyre, that great creator of kingdoms? Her traders were all princes, her merchants were nobles. 9 The Lord of Heaven’s Armies has done it to destroy your pride and bring low all earth’s nobility. 10 Come, people of Tarshish, sweep over the land like the flooding Nile, for Tyre is defenseless. 11 The Lord held out his hand over the sea and shook the kingdoms of the earth. He has spoken out against Phoenicia, ordering that her fortresses be destroyed. 12 He says, “Never again will you rejoice, O daughter of Sidon, for you have been crushed. Even if you flee to Cyprus, you will find no rest.” 13 Look at the land of Babylonia— the people of that land are gone! The Assyrians have handed Babylon over to the wild animals of the desert. They have built siege ramps against its walls, torn down its palaces, and turned it to a heap of rubble. 14 Wail, you ships of Tarshish, for your harbor is destroyed!  15 For seventy years, the length of a king’s life, Tyre will be forgotten. But then the city will come back to life as in the song about the prostitute: 16 Take a harp and walk the streets, you forgotten harlot. Make sweet melody and sing your songs so you will be remembered again. 17 Yes, after seventy years the Lord will revive Tyre. But she will be no different than she was before. She will again be a prostitute to all kingdoms around the world. 18 But in the end her profits will be given to the Lord. Her wealth will not be hoarded but will provide good food and fine clothing for the Lord’s priests.

That’s a pretty harsh judgment! In Ezekiel, we can see even more! This is a long passage, so bear with me, and just pay attention to the types of things that are said about Tyre and Sidon:

​Ezekiel 26:1–28:23 NLT
1 On February 3, during the twelfth year of King Jehoiachin’s captivity, this message came to me from the Lord: 2 “Son of man, Tyre has rejoiced over the fall of Jerusalem, saying, ‘Ha! She who was the gateway to the rich trade routes to the east has been broken, and I am the heir! Because she has been made desolate, I will become wealthy!’ 3 “Therefore, this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am your enemy, O Tyre, and I will bring many nations against you, like the waves of the sea crashing against your shoreline. 4 They will destroy the walls of Tyre and tear down its towers. I will scrape away its soil and make it a bare rock! 5 It will be just a rock in the sea, a place for fishermen to spread their nets, for I have spoken, says the Sovereign Lord. Tyre will become the prey of many nations, 6 and its mainland villages will be destroyed by the sword. Then they will know that I am the Lord. 7 “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: From the north I will bring King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon against Tyre. He is king of kings and brings his horses, chariots, charioteers, and great army. 8 First he will destroy your mainland villages. Then he will attack you by building a siege wall, constructing a ramp, and raising a roof of shields against you. 9 He will pound your walls with battering rams and demolish your towers with sledgehammers. 10 The hooves of his horses will choke the city with dust, and the noise of the charioteers and chariot wheels will shake your walls as they storm through your broken gates. 11 His horsemen will trample through every street in the city. They will butcher your people, and your strong pillars will topple. 12 “They will plunder all your riches and merchandise and break down your walls. They will destroy your lovely homes and dump your stones and timbers and even your dust into the sea. 13 I will stop the music of your songs. No more will the sound of harps be heard among your people. 14 I will make your island a bare rock, a place for fishermen to spread their nets. You will never be rebuilt, for I, the Lord, have spoken. Yes, the Sovereign Lord has spoken! 15 “This is what the Sovereign Lord says to Tyre: The whole coastline will tremble at the sound of your fall, as the screams of the wounded echo in the continuing slaughter. 16 All the seaport rulers will step down from their thrones and take off their royal robes and beautiful clothing. They will sit on the ground trembling with horror at your destruction. 17 Then they will wail for you, singing this funeral song: “O famous island city, once ruler of the sea, how you have been destroyed! Your people, with their naval power, once spread fear around the world. 18 Now the coastlands tremble at your fall. The islands are dismayed as you disappear. 19 “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I will make Tyre an uninhabited ruin, like many others. I will bury you beneath the terrible waves of enemy attack. Great seas will swallow you. 20 I will send you to the pit to join those who descended there long ago. Your city will lie in ruins, buried beneath the earth, like those in the pit who have entered the world of the dead. You will have no place of respect here in the land of the living. 21 I will bring you to a terrible end, and you will exist no more. You will be looked for, but you will never again be found. I, the Sovereign Lord, have spoken!” 1 Then this message came to me from the Lord: 2 “Son of man, sing a funeral song for Tyre, 3 that mighty gateway to the sea, the trading center of the world. Give Tyre this message from the Sovereign Lord: “You boasted, O Tyre, 

 

‘My beauty is perfect!’ 

 

4 You extended your boundaries into the sea. 

 

Your builders made your beauty perfect. 

 

5 You were like a great ship 

 

built of the finest cypress from Senir. 

 

They took a cedar from Lebanon 

 

to make a mast for you. 

 

6 They carved your oars 

 

from the oaks of Bashan. 

 

Your deck of pine from the coasts of Cyprus 

 

was inlaid with ivory. 

 

7 Your sails were made of Egypt’s finest linen, 

 

and they flew as a banner above you. 

 

You stood beneath blue and purple awnings 

 

made bright with dyes from the coasts of Elishah. 

 

8 Your oarsmen came from Sidon and Arvad; 

 

your helmsmen were skilled men from Tyre itself. 

 

9 Wise old craftsmen from Gebal did the caulking. 

 

Ships from every land came with goods to barter for your trade. 

 

10 “Men from distant Persia, Lydia, and Libya served in your great army. They hung their shields and helmets on your walls, giving you great honor. 11 Men from Arvad and Helech stood on your walls. Your towers were manned by men from Gammad. Their shields hung on your walls, completing your beauty. 

 

12 “Tarshish sent merchants to buy your wares in exchange for silver, iron, tin, and lead. 13 Merchants from Greece, Tubal, and Meshech brought slaves and articles of bronze to trade with you. 

 

14 “From Beth-togarmah came riding horses, chariot horses, and mules, all in exchange for your goods. 15 Merchants came to you from Dedan. Numerous coastlands were your captive markets; they brought payment in ivory tusks and ebony wood. 

 

16 “Syria sent merchants to buy your rich variety of goods. They traded turquoise, purple dyes, embroidery, fine linen, and jewelry of coral and rubies. 17 Judah and Israel traded for your wares, offering wheat from Minnith, figs, honey, olive oil, and balm. 

 

18 “Damascus sent merchants to buy your rich variety of goods, bringing wine from Helbon and white wool from Zahar. 19 Greeks from Uzal came to trade for your merchandise. Wrought iron, cassia, and fragrant calamus were bartered for your wares. 

 

20 “Dedan sent merchants to trade their expensive saddle blankets with you. 21 The Arabians and the princes of Kedar sent merchants to trade lambs and rams and male goats in exchange for your goods. 22 The merchants of Sheba and Raamah came with all kinds of spices, jewels, and gold in exchange for your wares. 

 

23 “Haran, Canneh, Eden, Sheba, Asshur, and Kilmad came with their merchandise, too. 24 They brought choice fabrics to trade—blue cloth, embroidery, and multicolored carpets rolled up and bound with cords. 25 The ships of Tarshish were your ocean caravans. Your island warehouse was filled to the brim! 

 

26 “But look! Your oarsmen 

 

have taken you into stormy seas! 

 

A mighty eastern gale 

 

has wrecked you in the heart of the sea! 

 

27 Everything is lost— 

 

your riches and wares, 

 

your sailors and pilots, 

 

your ship builders, merchants, and warriors. 

 

On the day of your ruin, 

 

everyone on board sinks into the depths of the sea. 

 

28 Your cities by the sea tremble 

 

as your pilots cry out in terror. 

 

29 All the oarsmen abandon their ships; 

 

the sailors and pilots stand on the shore. 

 

30 They cry aloud over you 

 

and weep bitterly. 

 

They throw dust on their heads 

 

and roll in ashes. 

 

31 They shave their heads in grief for you 

 

and dress themselves in burlap. 

 

They weep for you with bitter anguish 

 

and deep mourning. 

 

32 As they wail and mourn over you, 

 

they sing this sad funeral song: 

 

‘Was there ever such a city as Tyre, 

 

now silent at the bottom of the sea? 

 

33 The merchandise you traded 

 

satisfied the desires of many nations. 

 

Kings at the ends of the earth 

 

were enriched by your trade. 

 

34 Now you are a wrecked ship, 

 

broken at the bottom of the sea. 

 

All your merchandise and crew 

 

have gone down with you. 

 

35 All who live along the coastlands 

 

are appalled at your terrible fate. 

 

Their kings are filled with horror 

 

and look on with twisted faces. 

 

36 The merchants among the nations 

 

shake their heads at the sight of you, 

 

for you have come to a horrible end 

 

and will exist no more.’ ” 

 

 

 

1 Then this message came to me from the Lord: 2 “Son of man, give the prince of Tyre this message from the Sovereign Lord: 

 

“In your great pride you claim, ‘I am a god! 

 

I sit on a divine throne in the heart of the sea.’ 

 

But you are only a man and not a god, 

 

though you boast that you are a god. 

 

3 You regard yourself as wiser than Daniel 

 

and think no secret is hidden from you. 

 

4 With your wisdom and understanding you have amassed great wealth— 

 

gold and silver for your treasuries. 

 

5 Yes, your wisdom has made you very rich, 

 

and your riches have made you very proud. 

 

6 “Therefore, this is what the Sovereign Lord says: 

 

Because you think you are as wise as a god, 

 

7 I will now bring against you a foreign army, 

 

the terror of the nations. 

 

They will draw their swords against your marvelous wisdom 

 

and defile your splendor! 

 

8 They will bring you down to the pit, 

 

and you will die in the heart of the sea, 

 

pierced with many wounds. 

 

9 Will you then boast, ‘I am a god!’ 

 

to those who kill you? 

 

To them you will be no god 

 

but merely a man! 

 

10 You will die like an outcast 

 

at the hands of foreigners. 

 

I, the Sovereign Lord, have spoken!” 

 

11 Then this further message came to me from the Lord: 12 “Son of man, sing this funeral song for the king of Tyre. Give him this message from the Sovereign Lord: 

 

“You were the model of perfection, 

 

full of wisdom and exquisite in beauty. 

 

13 You were in Eden, 

 

the garden of God. 

 

Your clothing was adorned with every precious stone— 

 

red carnelian, pale-green peridot, white moonstone, 

 

blue-green beryl, onyx, green jasper, 

 

blue lapis lazuli, turquoise, and emerald— 

 

all beautifully crafted for you 

 

and set in the finest gold. 

 

They were given to you 

 

on the day you were created. 

 

14 I ordained and anointed you 

 

as the mighty angelic guardian. 

 

You had access to the holy mountain of God 

 

and walked among the stones of fire. 

 

15 “You were blameless in all you did 

 

from the day you were created 

 

until the day evil was found in you. 

 

16 Your rich commerce led you to violence, 

 

and you sinned. 

 

So I banished you in disgrace 

 

from the mountain of God. 

 

I expelled you, O mighty guardian, 

 

from your place among the stones of fire. 

 

17 Your heart was filled with pride 

 

because of all your beauty. 

 

Your wisdom was corrupted 

 

by your love of splendor. 

 

So I threw you to the ground 

 

and exposed you to the curious gaze of kings. 

 

18 You defiled your sanctuaries 

 

with your many sins and your dishonest trade. 

 

So I brought fire out from within you, 

 

and it consumed you. 

 

I reduced you to ashes on the ground 

 

in the sight of all who were watching. 

 

19 All who knew you are appalled at your fate. 

 

You have come to a terrible end, 

 

and you will exist no more.” 

 

20 Then another message came to me from the Lord: 21 “Son of man, turn and face the city of Sidon and prophesy against it. 22 Give the people of Sidon this message from the Sovereign Lord: 

 

“I am your enemy, O Sidon, 

 

and I will reveal my glory by what I do to you. 

 

When I bring judgment against you 

 

and reveal my holiness among you, 

 

everyone watching will know 

 

that I am the Lord. 

 

23 I will send a plague against you, 

 

and blood will be spilled in your streets. 

 

The attack will come from every direction, 

 

and your people will lie slaughtered within your walls. 

 

Then everyone will know 

 

that I am the Lord.

I know this was a really long passage, but this prophesy is long-winded for a reason! This pronouncement of judgment is meant to be memorable! And all of it is with the purpose of revealing who God is, who Yahweh is. This is exactly the type of passage that Jesus is referring to, and that his listeners would be uploading in the backs of their minds as he's speaking.

Sodom

As for Sodom, their sin is described all the way back in Genesis, and this one is probably a bit more famous than the others. I won’t read the whole story, but here are a couple of excerpts:

​Genesis 18:20–21 LEB
20 Then Yahweh said, “Because the outcry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great and because their sin is very serious, 21 I will go down and I will see. Have they done altogether according to its cry of distress which has come to me? If not, I will know.”

Then, in verse 19, some angels come to destroy the city but save Lot and his family first:

​Genesis 19:12–13 CSB
12 Then the angels said to Lot, “Do you have anyone else here: a son-in-law, your sons and daughters, or anyone else in the city who belongs to you? Get them out of this place, 13 for we are about to destroy this place because the outcry against its people is so great before the Lord, that the Lord has sent us to destroy it.”

And eventually, this is how the destruction of the city is described:

​Genesis 19:23–29 NLT
23 Lot reached the village just as the sun was rising over the horizon. 24 Then the Lord rained down fire and burning sulfur from the sky on Sodom and Gomorrah. 25 He utterly destroyed them, along with the other cities and villages of the plain, wiping out all the people and every bit of vegetation. 26 But Lot’s wife looked back as she was following behind him, and she turned into a pillar of salt. 27 Abraham got up early that morning and hurried out to the place where he had stood in the Lord’s presence. 28 He looked out across the plain toward Sodom and Gomorrah and watched as columns of smoke rose from the cities like smoke from a furnace. 29 But God had listened to Abraham’s request and kept Lot safe, removing him from the disaster that engulfed the cities on the plain.

The Scandal

Again, these passages in Genesis, Isaiah and Ezekiel would be well known to any Jewish student of Hebrew scriptures, which means that these towns of Tyre, Sidon, and Sodom would have an inherent notoriety in the collective psyche of Jewish culture. 

Not unlike Babylon and Egypt, these places, these cities, were ingrained in Jewish thought as enemies of Israel, enemies of God, and symbols of depravity and evil. They expect all the vengeance and wrath of God to fall upon THOSE places.

And then Jesus goes and says that God’s judgment will be more harsh for these nice, local Jewish towns than it would be for those pagan cities.

We can see some of the atrocities that those other cities committed, and perhaps understand why the judgment against them was so harsh. But why is Jesus saying it’s going to be even harsher for the Jewish cities?

What did they do that’s so bad?

Let’s read it again:​

Matthew 11:20–24 CSB
20 Then he proceeded to denounce the towns where most of his miracles were done, because they did not repent: 21 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented in sackcloth and ashes long ago. 22 But I tell you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you. 23 And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? No, you will go down to Hades. For if the miracles that were done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until today. 24 But I tell you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom on the day of judgment than for you.”

Jesus is giving the Jews a gift; a chance, an opportunity to repent, and he’s given them all the miracles and signs and wonders they could possibly ask for, even raising people from the dead and fulfilling all the prophesies about the Messiah! And yet…they, for the most part, have failed to repent. They have chosen to stubbornly cling to their burdensome religiosity which in the end will do nothing for them but condemn them.

It is their inaction in the wake of Jesus’s miracles, their failure to respond to him which Jesus disdains so much. Eventually, of course, their hardness and bitterness of hearts will lead to brutal, violent action against him.

Can you imagine how these statements must have felt for people who were from these Jewish towns? It’s really no wonder that Jesus made so many enemies, that people hated him so much they wanted to kill him!

It’s statements like this that would have made him an “enemy of the state” and even, in their minds, a blasphemer! Someone opposed to God himself!

This really is some BAD news!

And you have to realize that all of US, today, are just as guilty as any of these other people in other cities, of sin and unfaithfulness, if not more so! All of us would carry this burden of judgment, this burden of guilt that Jesus is pointing out.

The Solution

But, in verse 25, he suddenly follows up with some GOOD news! Starting with a prayer of gratitude:​

Matthew 11:25–30 CSB
25 At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and revealed them to infants. 26 Yes, Father, because this was your good pleasure. 27 All things have been entrusted to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son desires to reveal him. 28 “Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take up my yoke and learn from me, because I am lowly and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

After ALL that doom and gloom, the “woe to you...” statements of harsh judgement against these towns, and evoking those terrifying, harsh passages of judgment in the prophets, he suddenly shifts tone and reveals the solution, the relief, the escape from judgment.

All authority of the Father has been granted to the son! And Jesus came to take upon himself the burden of sin for all humans!

And even when Jesus is suffering through a torturous death on the cross, suffering the culmination of the ultimate rejection…the action which should truly condemn the Jews the most severely, what does Jesus say? He demonstrates his role as our intercessor:​

Luke 23:33–43 CSB
33 When they arrived at the place called The Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals, one on the right and one on the left. 34 Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, because they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided his clothes and cast lots. 35 The people stood watching, and even the leaders were scoffing: “He saved others; let him save himself if this is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One!” 36 The soldiers also mocked him. They came offering him sour wine 37 and said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself!” 38 An inscription was above him: This Is the King of the Jews. 39 Then one of the criminals hanging there began to yell insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” 40 But the other answered, rebuking him: “Don’t you even fear God, since you are undergoing the same punishment? 41 We are punished justly, because we’re getting back what we deserve for the things we did, but this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43 And he said to him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

Even while on the cross, being mocked, ridiculed and insulted by the very people he came to save, he prayed and said “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

And to the one voice that wasn’t mocking him, the criminal hanging next to him who probably was guilty…Jesus offers comfort…a statement of hope!

See, while Jesus certainly had some harsh words for the Jews, and we may at times be confronted by his spirit about the harsh reality of our sin, ultimately it’s for our own sake, so that we have the opportunity to confess and repent of our sin, and turn and choose life in him instead. In the end, the heart of Jesus is love and forgiveness, and he stands before the throne of judgement on our behalf, bearing all the burden of our sin.

Why, then, would we want take any of that burden back onto ourselves?

It requires hardness and bitterness of heart to face God’s wrath and the burden of his judgment. But to find rest for our souls and relief of our burdens requires only that we trust in Jesus, and let him carry all our sin and shame.

The teaching and requirements of the pharisees was burdensome. They are a prime example of how religious systems, which attempt to have us become righteous in our own strength is too heavy of a burden. That’s the opposite of what Jesus wants! And we, too, have to be careful today not to fall into that trap.

Over the last few weeks we saw how Jesus explained that following him would not be easy, in the sense that his followers should expect resistance from other people and the forces of evil.

However, the trade-off is that they would NOT be objects of God’s judgement; they would be covered by the love and sacrifice of Jesus, who is going to drink the cup of God’s wrath on behalf of all humanity.

Conclusion

Jesus, like many prophets before him, including John, brings a message of judgment, and a call for repentance. BUT he also brings a unique message of hope. He offers salvation not through righteousness, or acts of contrition, or penance, but through faith. Faith in him, and a willingness to commit to following him, and the sacrifice that he will provide.

He’s not saying it will be an easy or prosperous journey, but it is one free from the burden of guilt.

If you’re here today and there is sin in your life, and God is convicting you to repent, then you should certainly repent! Turn around, go the other way, replace the wrong with right. Sinful behavior is destructive to our bodies and souls, and it’s destructive to our relationships with each other and with God. As Paul says, we certainly ought not to sin just so that Grace may abound.

That said, we have ALL failed and fallen short of the Glory of God! And we must be careful not to allow conviction to turn into guilt. In the divine court of law, God on our side, defending us, and we have been declared innocent! So, especially once we have responded to conviction with confession and repentance, there is no reason so continue to dwell on our past sins, other than to learn and strive to avoid making the same mistakes again.

There is nothing in our past, present or future, in the whole of the universe, that can separate us from God’s love when we are in Christ 

Romans 8:31–39 CSB

31 What, then, are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? 32 He did not even spare his own Son but gave him up for us all. How will he not also with him grant us everything? 33 Who can bring an accusation against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies. 34 Who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is the one who died, but even more, has been raised; he also is at the right hand of God and intercedes for us. 35 Who can separate us from the love of Christ? Can affliction or distress or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written: 

 

Because of you 

 

we are being put to death all day long; 

 

we are counted as sheep to be slaughtered. 

 

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

And that’s the hope and the encouragement that I hope to leave you with today.

Prayer & Benediction


Condemnation & Comfort