A Legacy of Woe
A Legacy of Woe
Words of Faith 7-31-18
Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2018
Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL
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 But when you enter a town and are not welcomed, go into its streets and say,  'Even the dust of your town that sticks to our feet we wipe off against you. Yet be sure of this: The kingdom of God is near.'  I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town.
 "Woe to you, Korazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes.  But it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment than for you.  And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted up to the skies? No, you will go down to the depths.
 "He who listens to you listens to me; he who rejects you rejects me; but he who rejects me rejects him who sent me."
Jesus had just sent out 72 disciples to prepare the way in the towns that He would soon visit. But in the midst of that He also gave a stern warning for places that do not listen. It will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for you, if you do not listen! This was a sobering thought to say the least.
Here we find some of the harshest words we ever hear from Jesus. The Gospel of Matthew records that Jesus declared woe, a sort of judgment and curse, upon religious leaders who do not practice what they preach (Matthew 23). Here Jesus pronounced woe upon villages and towns that do not listen and repent. Jesus named three of the villages that were nearby in Galilee. What were these places and why was Jesus cursing them?
All three of these places, Capernaum, Korazin and Bethsaida, were situated on the north side of the Sea of Galilee yet each was very different.
Capernaum we know was the home base of Jesus where He lived in the home of Peter's mother-in-law. It was a fishing town but also a center of commerce. This was where revival had first broken out. This town has been extensively excavated and you can see the remains of the synagogue where Jesus taught as well as the house that he stay in and used for ministry.
If there was anyplace where people thought they might be safe from the judgment of the Lord, it would be Capernaum. This was the home town of the Old Testament prophet Nahum and also a place of great influence. Capernaum was on a highway that led from the Northeast to the sea. It was a seat of power. But more important, it was the adopted home town of Jesus! Jesus had been run out of Nazareth but Capernaum became the center for this great outpouring. There were healings, teachings and many exorcisms here. They had seen more than anyone but they had not really repented.
Korazin was a wealthy town about two miles from the Sea of Galilee. The ruins there indicate that it was a wealthy town with a beautiful synagogue made from black volcanic rock. Today you can see there a particularly ornate seat in the ruins of the synagogue called the Moses seat.
Korazin was a place of wealth and commerce. Korazin is mentioned in the Talmud as a place famous for its wheat. In the time of Jesus it must have been an important place. It was the bread basket of the region. It was a town that had a great religious heritage and great blessing and wealth. There were beautiful shops along paved streets. This was the place where you might go to the mall to buy something nice. This was "up town" literally much higher up the slope than the other towns Jesus visited. Jesus had gone there. There had been miracles and clear preaching of Kingdom. But they had failed to respond.
Bethsaida was a fishing village. The name Bethsaida means House of Fish. It was a blue collar fishing town. They had a strong work ethic. They were a "pull yourself up by the boot straps" sort of people. Certainly they were proud of their village their hard work. This was also home to several disciples-- Andrew, Peter and Philip. They could have boasted that a fourth of the disciples of Jesus came from their village. This was also a town very close to where Jesus fed 5000 people and where a blind man was healed.
They were a proud fishing village. But they failed to believe. They failed to repent. Jesus cursed this place and by the second half of the third century A.D. it had ceased to be inhabited. Only in the last ten years have we seen the excavation of the rubble and ruins of Bethsaida-- because no one knew where it was.
All three of these places are now rubble. They are archeological digs. What does this tell us?
This set of woes tell us that you can be from the most affluent town in the region, but if you do not repent, it will be better on that day for Sodom than for you. You can come from the most wonderful working class community, even the home town of great disciples, but if you do not repent, there is judgment to come. You can be from the adopted home town of Jesus, but there is no pride in what town you are from. You can be in a place where much of God's blessing and spirit has been poured out, but if much has been done among you, much is expected.
The warning could not be more direct. Are we listening? Jesus is calling us to be in ministry with Him. Are we listening? Our nation is hearing the Gospel, but are we listening? Much has been entrusted to this nation. No where on earth has there been more of God's blessing. No where on earth is more expected. We need to be in a spirit of repentance.
Father God, give me eyes to see and ears to hear. Give our nation and our communities a heart that is open to believe and repent. Show us the way and give us courage to respond. In Jesus' name.