Our text this morning is Luke 10:12-16. In it Jesus will teach us two things: First, rejection of the gospel results in punishment. Second, the severity of the punishment will be consistent with the knowledge we have received. Jesus says:
I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town. “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But it will be more bearable in the judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You shall be brought down to Hades. “The one who hears you hears me, and the one who rejects you rejects me, and the one who rejects me rejects him who sent me.”
When Jesus says “that day”, He is speaking of the judgment to come. 2 Thessalonians 1:8 tells us Jesus will inflict “vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.” On that Day of Judgment, Jesus will also be “glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed” (2 Thess 1:10).
Rejection Equals Punishment
Jesus’ audience knew Sodom, Tyre, and Sidon were going to be punished in the judgment. These were pagan cities with open wickedness. Their rebellion was obvious in their worship of idols. Sodom, for example, is infamous as a wicked city. It is because of their particular evil that we get the word sodomy. Jesus’ audience knew that the people of these cities deserved punishment for their wickedness.
What is surprising is that Jesus says that the judgment against these pagan cities (with evident wickedness) will be more bearable than for other cities. Jesus’ audience was surprised at His statement because Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum were religious cities whose inhabitants professed to believe in God. Archeologists found a synagogue in Chorazin with a “seat of Moses” (see Matt 23:2). Jesus’ audience expected that the people of these cities be commended for being religious, but instead Jesus rebuked them.
The problem with these “religious” cities is that, in spite of all their religious convictions and outward conformity, they rejected Jesus. Jesus says, “if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes” (13). This brings us to our second point.
Severity of Punishment based on Knowledge
Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum had the advantage of seeing and hearing the Son of God made flesh. Jesus healed their sick, cast out their demons, and raised the dead back to life and they rejected Him. Jesus says it will be more bearable for Sodom, Tyre, and Sidon than for Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum because those pagan cities’ rejection was based on less knowledge of God. They will still be punished, but their punishment will be less severe.
Sodom was severely punished in this world. Genesis 19:24 says, “The Lord rained on Sodom and Gomorrah sulfur and fire from the Lord out of heaven.” Verse 28 says, “the smoke of the land went up like the smoke of a furnace.” Jude 1:7 says, “Sodom and Gomorrah…serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.” Yet surprisingly Jesus says it will “be more bearable on that day for Sodom” (12).
How this should terrify the inhabitants of United States of America who reject the gospel of Jesus Christ! Sodom had no churches, no preachers, no Sunday School, no AM or PM worship services, no Small Groups, no Lifeway Christian bookstores, no Christian TV, no Christian radio, no prayer meetings, they did not even have a Bible. They were a wicked and perverse people and because they lacked these instruments of grace they will have a more bearable judgment than any city in America.
The United States of America, Scott City included, is only alive today because of the mercy of God. We have more churches in Scott City than in most cities of the world and it will be more bearable on that day for them than for Scott City, MO.
Do we believe God owes us grace and mercy? The United States is the world’s leading producer of pornography. 1.2 million children in the United States were aborted in 2011. Homosexuality is not only being tolerated by our society but is being championed. God is being removed from our schools and forced out of our public area. Sodom had no Bible and suffered the wrath of God. The US has millions of Bibles and it will be more bearable for Sodom on the day than for us.
Brothers, what shall we do?
Abraham interceded for Sodom and was told that if there was 10 righteous people it would not be destroyed (Gen 18:32). Evangelist Leonard Ravenhill once wrote: “The salt of the earth that is saving America at this hour is the Church. Believers, this is your hour. Believers, arise! Believers, begin now to watch, to weep, to work, to war.”
The idolatry of Athens provoked Paul’s spirit within him (Acts 17:16). Jesus drew near to the city of Jerusalem in Luke 19:41 and “He wept over it, saying, ‘Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace!’ ”
What should we do? First, if you do not know God or obey the gospel then you should do it now. Second, if you are a believer you should seek to tell as many people as possible about the gospel and the good news of the reconciliation between God and man.
Questions for Reflection
- Will everyone be punished for sin?
- What is the severity of the punishment based on?
- What is our responsibility to the gospel?
- How can you be more active in the church in order to help others know God and obey the gospel of Jesus?