Matthew 11:20-24 Jesus Speaks Against the Cities

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Woe to the unbelieving cities

Jesus has been teaching and performing miracles for some time now. He has been drawing large crowds, especially for the healings, but the majority of the people still refuse to believe. Today Jesus speaks out about it.

We are not told where Jesus is at when he starts pronouncing His “woe” for the cities. He starts off talking about Chorazin and Bethsaida. He is distressed by the fact that these cities have seen numerous miracles and have personally heard Him teaching, yet refuse to believe the message He is bringing. Jesus told His disciples that if a city didn’t accept them, to shake the dust off their feet as a testament against them on the day of judgement. I think this is Jesus’ version of that act. The disciples could do their pronouncement covertly, but Jesus was very overt in His.

Jesus said that if the works done in these two proceeding cities were done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented of their ways and had been spared their fate. I wanted to know what they had done and what their fate was, so I Googled it (of course). Tyre and Sidon were destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar and Alexander the Great. These cities were well established when Joshua led the children of Israel into the Promised Land. Israel was supposed to rout out ALL the Canaanite people and destroy their cities, but they failed to do so, on several accounts. Tyre and Sidon withstood Israel’s efforts. Their religions infected Israel and helped turn them away from God. The king of Tyre was also reported to believe himself a god. This was when Ezekiel pronounced destruction on these two cities. For more complete details, check out’s commentary as well as

These cities, who were instrumental in corrupting Israel’s focus on God and even selling Israeli children into slavery with the Greeks, is said by Jesus to be less culpable on the day of judgement than Chorazin and Bethsaida. Tyre and Sidon didn’t have Jesus in the flesh telling them the truth and performing miracles on a daily basis. Jesus said that if they had, they would have repented. Chorazin and Bethsaida had every opportunity and blew it. There will be Hell to pay for their works at the Judgement Seat of God.

Capernaum became Jesus’ home town during His ministry. They had Jesus living right in their midst! They witnessed His miracles repeatedly. They had Him as a guest speaker in the synagogue. Yet the majority of the citizens refused to believe! Jesus said that even Sodom, the wickedest city ever, would have repented if they had seen and heard what had been shared in Capernaum. How could they be so blind!?!

Israel as a whole rejected Jesus. There were SO MANY people who received healing and deliverance personally from Jesus. Where were they when He was on trial? Probably the same place His own disciples were. In hiding. God had this as part of His plan all along but for those who took part in that plan, will they be held accountable at the Judgement Seat? Jesus prayed for forgiveness for those who took part in His crucifixion and I know God honored His request, but for those who rejected Him and sentenced Him will there be consequences? I have often wondered if all the evil that has befallen the nation of Israel is part of God’s judgement. That doesn’t excuse ANYONE who had a hand in perpetrating those evils. God stated in the Old Testament that He used other nations to discipline Israel. He also stated that the nations that took pleasure in doing so would themselves be judged.

I wonder what the people listening to Jesus that day were thinking and feeling. They had come out to hear Him. When He started talking about the comparison between the cities, were they nodding their heads in agreement or standing there with mouths open, aghast at His attitude? Did any of them repent for their attitude and become a believer? Did any of them return home and start praying for their city using the model of 2 Chronicles 7:14? I wonder how many become bitter and how many became better?

Father God, I am so grateful that You placed me in history in the time You did. First of all, I could never live up to You laws. No one else could either, but I probably would have been in trouble a lot more than most. Second, I am a skeptic in a lot of things. I hate to think I might have been one of those people resisting Jesus’ word or waiting to see if He were worth getting involved with. I would like to believe I would have been one of the women tagging along with Jesus and His disciples. Your word, with the full story laid out, compels me to believe. But before the work was finished, I don’t know how I would have behaved.

I truly feel for the Israelites living in Jesus’ time. To have been so close to God in the flesh and still not recognize Him. I realize Jesus’ rejection by Israel was an integral part of God’s complete plan, but just thinking about their treatment of Jesus brings tears to my eyes. I feel sorry for them for their ignorance and part they had to play.

I feel angry for the Israel of today. I cannot understand how they, as a nation, can still refuse to accept Jesus. He walked their streets. He healed their people. He died at their hands. He rose in front of their eyes. He walked their streets afterwards. He fulfilled all the prophecies delivered directly to them. How can they still be so blind?!? What more would Jesus have to do to prove Himself?

Thank You for my faith. Thank You for my parents who introduced me to You. Thank You for creating in me a curiosity and hunger to know more. Thank You for focusing that curiosity on You. Thank You for the imagination You gave me to be able to see Your stories and experience them along with You. Thank You for clearly showing me Who You were, are, and always will be. I look forward to walking the streets of Heaven with You. Thank You for letting me walk the dusty roads with You too, even if it is just in my imagination. Thank You for walking the paved streets with me today, even though You don’t walk them physically with me. Your presence is my very breath!

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4 Responses to “Matthew 11:20-24 Jesus Speaks Against the Cities”

  1. Victoria Nimmo Walters says:

    One of my friends (who died about three years ago) was of the Jewish heritage. Although he professed faith in Jesus as “a messiah” (with a lower case m) he held to a ‘Jewish belief’ that every generation possesses a God-sent messiah for the time in which they live–but that The Messiah is still to be revealed…in the LAST generation.

    Scary. And apparently, that school of thought goes hand-in-hand with another that claims that ‘the end of the world’ also comes in every generation, as each era transitions into something that makes life almost unrecognizable in the generations that follow.

    Scripture indicates that those who’s eyes are blinded to the Truth are condemned to believe a lie. Yet we must always remember that Scripture proclaims that “Salvation is of the Jews.” In other words, Jesus came to us through the lineage of Abraham who was not a nation until God made him a nation…the nation of Israel, from whence came the Jews. While we have the enlightenment of the New Testament (which is concealed within the Old Testament, just as the Old is revealed in the New) we must never lose our love for our forebears-in-the-faith, our separated brethren: the Jews.

    I truly fear the path down which our current government is leading us in its taking sides against Israeli autonomy.

    • avincent says:

      I also mourn for the Jewish people who are blinded by their religious leaders. As to the path our government is taking, it is bringing us another step closer to the end of this age. The Bible says that ALL nations will turn against Israel in the end. We are the last hold out. As I so often tell my husband, it has to get so much worse before He comes back.

      Come Lord Jesus QUICKLY!

      Then again, that is hard to pray too because of family members I KNOW are NOT ready for His return. I believe they will be left behind to face a completely Godless world. I pray that the end times really do resemble the Left Behind book series. That there is another chance. I think that may be what it takes to wake them up.

      Maybe I should pray; GET THEM God before it is too late.

  2. Victoria Nimmo Walters says:

    I’m not fully convinced one way or the other about the idea brought forward about a second chance after the rapture (as portrayed in the Left Behind book series.) But I do hold on to an ‘obscure’ piece of a sentence in the Bible that I’ve never heard any one preach on in the Protestant churches.

    Namely Matthew 12:32 Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.

    That last part: “…will not be forgiven, either in THIS age OR IN the age to come.”

    The Catholic Church uses this verse as one of the Biblical supports for the doctrine of purgatory: that if we die in friendship with God but have the stain of unforgiven sin on our souls, it can be purged from us before we enter Heaven (because NO sin can enter there.) The only exception being blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, which Jesus clearly states will NOT be forgiven–here nor there.

    No one likes to think about the purging fires of purgatory, but I find comfort in the idea that as a last resort (if I die suddenly, without the opportunity of having asked for forgiveness from all my sin) there could be a second chance for repentance.

    (BTW – I know you’ve said before that you don’t know much about Catholic teachings, and I don’t expect you to. Also, I’m not promoting Catholic doctrine to you…I just occasionally feel the need to express something that I’ve learned, that happens to be part of Catholic Theology.)

  3. Victoria Nimmo Walters says:

    PS – I totally agree with you: it’s gonna get a whole lot worse before Jesus returns. And yet, I add my prayer to yours: Come quickly, Lord Jesus!

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