Translation & Sermon by Nate Wilson for Christ the Redeemer Church, Manhattan, KS 15 Apr 2012
11:20 Then [Jesus] began to denounce the cities in which most of His miracles occurred, because they did not repent.
11:21 Woe to you, Chorazin, Woe to you Bethsaida, because if the miracles which occurred in y’all had happened in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago with sackcloth and ash.
11:22 Moreover, I’m telling y’all, for Tyre and Sidon it will be more tolerable in the day of judgment than for y’all.
11:23 And you, Capernaum, you won’t be lifted up to heaven will you? You will be brought down as low as Hell, because if the miracles which occurred in you had occurred in Sodom, it would have remained until today.
11:24 Moreover, I’m telling y’all, that for the land of Sodom it will be more tolerable in the day of judgment than for you!
11:25 In that meeting-time, Jesus answered, saying, “I speak out in agreement with you, Father, Lord of the heaven and the earth, because you hid these things from wise and smart men and revealed these things to babies.
11:26 Yes, Father, because this way happened to be pleasing in your sight.
11:27 All things were delivered over to me by my Father, so no one really knows the Son except the Father, neither does anyone really know the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal [Him].
11:28 Come here to me, all who are laboring and have been burdened, and I myself will refresh you.
11:29 Start taking my yoke upon yourselves and start learning from me, because I am gentle and humble in the heart, and you will find rest to your souls.
11:30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is lightweight.
We looked last week at the criticism that unbelievers leveled at Jesus. Now Jesus comes back with some criticism of His own.
Mat 11:20 Then [Jesus] began to denounce the cities in which most of His miracles [mighty worksKJV,ESV] occurred, because they did not repent.
Τότε [ὁ ᾿Ιησοῦς] ἤρξατο ὀνειδίζειν τὰς πόλεις ἐν αἶς ἐγένοντο αἱ πλεῖσται δυνάμεις αὐτοῦ, ὅτι οὐ μετενόησαν·
· Oneidizw is translated upbraidKJV/rebukeNKJV/denounceNASB,NIV and it is like what we call “trash-talk.” It’s what people who are sure they’re going to win the contest say to the people they think are going to be the losers in the contest.
o Sometimes the people doing the trash-talking have made bad judgments,
§ for instance the giant Goliath in the Philistine army (1 Sam. 17)
§ and Rabshakeh and Sennacherib who led the Babylonian army (2 Kings 19).
§ They had the manpower to conquer Israel’s defenses, but underestimated the power of Israel’s God to defend Israel,
§ and they died disgracefully as a result.
§ There was also the thief on the cross next to Jesus who died as he was insulting Jesus. (Matt. 27:44, Mark 15:32)
§ All who insult God will have to eat their words.
o Sometimes, however, the people doing the “trash-talking” have judged the situation rightly; they are people who trust in God, and through their criticism, they are warning other people that they are not as great as God is, and therefore they should not trifle with God and His people. These kind of people won’t have to eat their words:
§ Eleazar, one of David’s mighty men, is one example; he was so sure that God wanted to give Israel victory over the Philistines that he kept yelling insults at the huge Philistine army even after the Israelite army had retreated and there were only three Israelite guys still standing with him! He ended up winning the battle, even though he complained afterwards of hand cramps from swinging his sword so much! (2 Samuel 23:9 Brenton And after him Eleanan the son of his uncle, son of Dudi who was among the three mighty men with David; and when he defied the Philistines they were gathered there to war, and the men of Israel went up.)
o God Himself also trash talks, but He does it to warn mankind of their foolishness in thinking we can beat God by trusting in our human strength or in idols. God call us to trust in Him instead.
§ Isaiah 27:8-9 Fighting and reproaching he [God] will dismiss them [Israel into exile]… this is his blessing, when I [Jesus] shall have taken away his [Israel’s] sin; when they shall have broken to pieces all … their idols…” cf. Isaiah 43:12 I have declared, and have saved; I have reproached, and there was no strange god among you: ye are my witnesses, and I am the Lord God,
§ Zephaniah 2:8-10 I have heard the revilings of Moab, and the insults of the children of Ammon, wherewith they have reviled my people, and magnified themselves against my coasts. Therefore, as I live, saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, Moab shall be as Sodom, and the children of Ammon as Gomorrha; and Damascus shall be left as a heap of the threshing-floor, and desolate for ever: and the remnant of my people shall plunder them, and the remnant of my nations shall inherit them. This is their punishment in return for their haughtiness, because they have reproached and magnified themselves against the Lord Almighty. (cf. Psalm 79:12, Isaiah 65:7)
§ Mark 16:14 Afterward He appeared to the eleven themselves as they were reclining at the table; and He reproached them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who had seen Him after He had risen.
o Likewise, Jesus’ trash-talk of his hometown in Matthew 11 is not intended to hurt them, but rather to wake them up to the stark reality of their foolishness in refusing to respond in faith toward Him.
· As v.20 says, it is “because they did not repent” when given a clear opportunity. They did not turn away from trusting in themselves and doing their own thing.
o They were still trying to tell John and Jesus what they should have been doing rather than stopping and paying attention to what John and Jesus had to say.
o The populations of these towns are taken together as a whole because, even though there were some people in these towns that believed and followed Jesus, the majority did not.
o There are no massive revivals where all the city council members convert and beg Jesus to make their town the headquarters from which Christianity could be based.
So Jesus pronounces woes upon these towns: This is the first of 13 times Jesus uses the word “Woe” in Matthew, and it parallels the way the word is used throughout the prophets to alert people that they’re in trouble with God!
Mat 11:21 Woe to you, Chorazin, Woe to you Bethsaida, because if the miracles which occurred in y’all had happened in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ash.
οὐαί σοι, Χοραζίν, οὐαί σοι, Βηθσαϊδά· ὅτι εἰ ἐν Τύρῳ καὶ Σιδῶνι ἐγένοντο αἱ δυνάμεις αἱ γενόμεναι ἐν ὑμῖν, πάλαι ἂν ἐν σάκκῳ καὶ σποδῷ [καθήμεναιא,C,f1,Lk.10:13] μετενόησαν.
[Use map to locate]
· Capernaum at the top of the Sea of Galilee, was particularly privileged, because it is where Jesus and his family lived.
o Jesus healed the centurion’s paralyzed boy in Capernaum (8:5)
o And the paralyzed man lowered down through the roof (9:1-7)
o This is also where Jairus’s daughter was resurrected, the hemorrhaging woman was healed, the blind men were given sight, & the demon-possessed man was freed (9:18-32).
o Some, you remember, said, “Wow, we’ve never seen anything like this!” but others said, “Ignore him; he’s just demon-possessed.” (9:33-34)
o There is no town anymore on this spot.
· Choriazin – modern-day Kerazeh, 2.5 mi. N and a little West of Capernaum.
o The first miracle that Matthew records is the healing of the leper between the mountain and the town of Capernaum (8:1-5), which is right about where Choriazin is estimated to be.
o Even if it is not, the Bible says that Jesus went through “all the cities and villages teaching… and healing every disease” (9:35), so this would have been one of many such villages.
· Bethsaida – Debate as to whether located in plains of Genesaret just West of Capernaum or the Plain of Bethsaida just East of Capernaum.
o Whatever the case, this is where Phillip, Andrew, and Peter came from.
o This would then be where Jesus healed Peter’s mother-in-law as well as all the crowds of people who were sick and demon-possessed in 8:16
· The miracles which Jesus performed, as we saw a couple of weeks ago, were the very signs that the prophets like Isaiah had predicted that the Messiah would do, and now that these miraculous things were being done. Everybody should have been falling all over themselves to honor Jesus!
· Jesus says, (using the grammar of a Greek conditional statement which indicates He believes the conditions to be true) that if the Phoenician cities of Tyre and Sidon up the coast had seen the same miracles, they would have turned from their sins and demonstrated their grief over offending God by putting on uncomfortable sackcloth clothes made for mourning and covered themselves with ashes to symbolize how dirty they felt their sin had made them, just like the people of Nineveh did when Jonah preached to them.
o These cities are in modern-day Lebanon,
o In ancient times, the people from Tyre and Sidon would capture Jews and sell them as slaves to Edomites (Amos 1:9) and Greeks (Joel 3:6).
o So the Jews saw these pagans as the epitome of evil. People from Tyre and Sidon were thought of by the Jews as cruel and proud.
o But sometimes pagans who have never heard about the true God can be more impressed at the things of God than people who have had long exposure to the truth and have become insensitive to it.
Mat 11:22 Moreover, I’m telling y’all, for Tyre and Sidon it will be more tolerable/bearable in the day of judgment than for y’all.
πλὴν λέγω ὑμῖν, Τύρῳ καὶ Σιδῶνι ἀνεκτότερον ἔσται ἐν ἡμέρᾳ κρίσεως ἢ ὑμῖν.
· What Jesus says now was already foreshadowed in 10:15 when Jesus told His disciples about the seriousness of their message and that if people in these very towns did not accept their message, the disciples were to leave and shake the dust off their feet, with the understanding that a judgment worse than the fire and brimstone which obliterated Sodom and Gomorrah in 4,000 BC awaited the townspeople who rejected the message of Christ.
· When a basketball or football player on the other team starts trash-talking like this, you don’t take them seriously, but when Jesus talks like this, it’s deadly serious.
· Just like guys like to be a bit provoking when they trash-talk, I think Jesus was contrasting the Galileans purposefully with gentile towns like Sodom and Tyre just to get under the Jew’s skin, to provoke them enough to become alarmed at the dire consequences of missing out on their promised messiah and savior.
Mat 11:23 And you, Capernaum, you won’t be lifted up to heaven will you? You will be brought down as low as hell [HadesNAS,NKJ,ESV/the depthsNIV], because, if the miracles which occurred in you had occurred in Sodom, it would have remained until today.
· The implication being that since God saw fit to judge Sodom, and since Sodom would have been more responsive to Jesus than Capernaum, then it will be quite just for God to judge Capernaum for its rebellion against God and His messengers.
· There is a slight difference in this verse between the King James and the modern English translations based primarily on the difference of one letter between the Greek manuscripts, but the two readings actually complement each other:
o The KJV, based on the many copies of Greek New Testaments made in the Byzantine era, indicates that Capernaum has already been exalted, and that is true because they received the unique privilege of having Jesus base His early ministry in their town.
o However, the more modern English translations follow the older Greek manuscripts of this verse which indicate that Capernaum will not be exalted to heaven in the future, which is also true, for since the majority of its citizens did not put their faith in Christ, the majority of the town will not go to heaven, and the town itself would never become a great center of Christianity like other towns did, such as Antioch, Syria.
· The larger point is that there is a day of judgment coming, and Jesus will hold us accountable to what He has revealed to us.
Mat 11:24 Moreover, I’m telling y’all, that for the land of Sodom it will be more tolerable/bearable in the day of judgment than for you.
πλὴν λέγω ὑμῖν ὅτι γῇ Σοδόμων ἀνεκτότερον ἔσται ἐν ἡμέρᾳ κρίσεως ἢ σοί.
· At this point, it is appropriate for us to ask ourselves if Jesus could call us in America down for the same kind of things He called Capernaum down for.
· We who have multiple Bibles in every home will be held accountable by God for whether we read those Bibles and practiced all that we read.
· We in this church who have studied in some detail over the last year the miracles of Christ, do we stand in awe of who Jesus is and unreservedly trust Him to take care of everything that is wrong with this world and implicitly trust that everything He said is absolutely true?
· Do we think that because of our privileged position in the world that God will implement a good-ol-boy policy with us and wink at our sin and faithlessness and say we can come on in to heaven anyway?
· Are there any sins we have not taken seriously enough? Are there any commands of Christ we haven’t taken seriously? I encourage you to examine your life during some quiet time today to consider this and get right with God.
Now, in the parallel passage in Luke 10, we have an interlude in which Jesus sends off a group of 70 disciples, and then they come back, excitedly relating the adventures of their evangelism campaigns. Matthew just records how Jesus responded to them at that time:
Mat 11:25 In that meeting-time, Jesus answered, saying, “I praise/thank/lit. “speak out in agreement with” you, Father, Lord of the heaven and the earth, because you hid these things from wise and smart men and revealed these things to babies.
᾿Εν ἐκείνῳ τῷ καιρῷ ἀποκριθεὶς ὁ ᾿Ιησοῦς εἶπεν· ἐξομολογοῦμαί σοι, πάτερ, κύριε τοῦ οὐρανοῦ καὶ τῆς γῆς, ὅτι [ἀπ-]έκρυψας ταῦτα ἀπὸ σοφῶν καὶ συνετῶν, καὶ ἀπεκάλυψας αὐτὰ νηπίοις·
And WHY did God act so unexpectedly to hide from the big-shots and reveal Himself to the nobodies?
Mat 11:26 Yes, Father, because this way happened to be pleasing in your sight.
ναί, ὁ πατήρ, ὅτι οὕτως ἐγένετο εὐδοκία ἔμπροσθέν σου.
Mat 11:27 All things were delivered over to me by my Father, so no one really knows the Son except the Father, neither does anyone really know the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal [Him].
Πάντα μοι παρεδόθη ὑπὸ τοῦ πατρός μου· καὶ οὐδεὶς ἐπιγινώσκει τὸν υἱὸν εἰ μὴ ὁ πατήρ, οὐδὲ τὸν πατέρα τις ἐπιγινώσκει εἰ μὴ ὁ υἱὸς καὶ ᾧ ἐὰν βούληται ὁ υἱὸς ἀποκαλύψαι.
Mat 11:28 Come here to me, all who are laboring and burdened, and I myself will refresh you.
Δεῦτε πρός με πάντες οἱ κοπιῶντες καὶ πεφορτισμένοι, κἀγὼ ἀναπαύσω ὑμᾶς.
Mat 11:29 Start taking my yoke upon yourselves and start learning from me, because I am gentle and humble in the heart, and you will find rest to your souls.
ἄρατε τὸν ζυγόν μου ἐφ᾿ ὑμᾶς καὶ μάθετε ἀπ᾿ ἐμοῦ, ὅτι πρᾷόςByz,TR/υςCT εἰμι καὶ ταπεινὸς τῇ καρδίᾳ, καὶ εὑρήσετε ἀνάπαυσιν ταῖς ψυχαῖς ὑμῶν·
Mat 11:30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is lightweight.
ὁ γὰρ ζυγός μου χρηστὸς καὶ τὸ φορτίον μου ἐλαφρόν ἐστιν.
 Instead of “he,” many Greek manuscripts (C,K,L,N,W,Θ,f1, f13) explicitly state Jesus’ name, however it is not in the majority of manuscripts and it is not in the oldest manuscripts either.
 The Greek verb ginwmai here has more to do with coming into existence than with execution of action, so I prefer the NASB’s “occurred” to the KJV’s “done” and NIV’s “performed.”
 Above is the consensus of the older Greek manuscripts as well as of the Latin translations which predate the Vulgate. The Byzantine Patriarchal and Medieval Textus Receptus Greek manuscript traditions read ἡ ἕως τοῦ οὐρανοῦ ὑψωθεῖσα, “which has been exalted unto the heaven.” The word for “which” is one letter ἡ, which is the final letter of the two-letter word μη meaning “not,” and the other letter of that word, μ, happens to be the last letter of the previous word, Capernaum, which may explain why there are variants and why the variants are not drastic because they are only one letter different.
 A couple of significant ancient Greek Uncials (B,D,W), as well as the majority of ancient Italian translations render this verb in the middle/deponent voice instead of passive, and the NAS and NIV follow that reading with an active verb.
 Here, the Byzantine text is the same as the oldest manuscripts (א, B, C, D, f1) and the Critical Text (which is unusual), and differs from the Textus Receptus and Majority text which have a deponent spelling. This doesn’t change the translation, though, since ginomai is like a verb of being and doesn’t really have an active or passive voice in English.
 The Byzantine majority has this prefix, as do C,L,W,Θ,f1, and f13, but it is thought that this could be an attempt to reconcile the spelling of this word in Matthew’s gospel with its parallel in Luke 10:21, and it is not in the critical text. It doesn’t change the meaning, though, seeing as the same preposition occurs after the verb and its object.
 I am indebted to William Hendricksen’s commentary on Matthew for this list.
 Calvin says this is figurative for a guilty conscience and hopelessness at saving self. The only occurrence of fortizo in the O.T. might fit with this (Ezek. 16:33). Hendricksen, on the other hand, says this refers to the burden of works-oriented salvation, and the only other occurrence of fortizo in the N.T., Luke 11:46, fits with that problem of legalism. Jesus could have intended to encompass both.