Rejecting God's Evidence
It might seem strange for Jesus to express grief over whole townships, in the same way that the Old Testament prophets pronounced doom to the rebellious nations surrounding Israel. But the issue was just the same. God had provided evidence of His power and glory through the miracles Jesus performed, and those towns rejected the evidence they could clearly see.
Tyre and Sidon had only heard of God's mighty deeds and refused to believe – their downfall happened as prophesied (Ezekiel chapters 26-28:). But Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum (towns at the northern end of Lake Galilee) had seen Jesus' miracles and heard His teaching first-hand (John 14:11). To refuse to accept Jesus as God’s Messiah, despite overwhelming evidence that He was the Son of God, was to invite the most severe judgement from God (John 3:18).
No wonder that Jesus was heart-broken and expressed His distress, as He also did over Jerusalem (Luke 13:34). What more could He have done to show who He was? Instead, those towns were shown up for who they were - proudly rebellious against the God who had made them and had come to save them. Some may say, ‘That was just sinful human nature’, and they would be right! Our sinful hearts naturally want to disregard God, His Word and His mighty works. Yes, we are glad when God is kind to us, but naturally we have no intention of submitting to His authority. And God will be heart-broken because He will have to reject all those people from His Kingdom.
It is still the same today. The Christian's prophetic role is to show the evidence of who Jesus is, and tell people why He came: we will do that by living godly lives, explaining God's Word and by allowing God to work through us so that His will is done. The Lord is longing that people will believe the evidence and repent (1 Timothy 2:3-6). But those who refuse, grieve the Lord. He may send all kinds of evidence of His love and power: but to resist their meaning and turn away is to invite judgement. Announcing that is perhaps a more difficult part of the church's prophetic role; but without it our gospel is incomplete to the point of being false. That does not mean preaching a loveless doom for all, but rather to be clear that the powerful grace of Christ demands a positive response.
© Dr Paul Adams