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LIFE OF CHRIST
A Harmony of the Gospels

LESSON TEN

   

CITIES  REBUKED

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Matthew 11:20-24
(20)  Then He began to rebuke the cities in which most of His mighty works had been done, because they did not repent: 
(21)  "Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.  (22)  But I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for you.  (23)  And you, Capernaum, who are exalted to heaven, will be brought down to Hades; for if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.  (24)  But I say to you that it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment than for you."
NKJV
 
Luke 10:13-16
 
(13)  "Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes.  (14)  But it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment than for you.  (15)  And you, Capernaum, who are exalted to heaven, will be brought down to Hades. 
(16)  He who hears you hears Me, he who rejects you rejects Me, and he who rejects Me rejects Him who sent Me."
NKJV

He began to rebuke the cities
The more God has done to draw men unto Himself,  the less excusable are they if thy continue to resist Him.

Chorazin
Modern “Khirbet Kerazeh,”  ruins about two miles north of  Tell Hum,  the site of Capernaum.
Chorazin is mentioned only in the woes Jesus pronounced upon it.  His condemnation of it,  in conjunction with Bethsaida and Capernaum,  indicates that Chorazin must have been an important city.  It ceased to be inhabited by the time of Eusebius (250-300 A.D.).
Only a few carved stones remain today.

Bethsaida
A village close to the west side of the sea of Tiberias,  in the land of Gennesaret,  where Jesus sent His disciples by boat after He had fed the 5000 (Mk. 6:45-53).

John says that they headed for Capernaum (Jn. 6:17),  but when they were blown off their course they landed in Gennesaret and then went to Capernaum.

Possibly, therefore,  this Bethsaida was close to Capernaum and may have been its fishing district next to the lake. This would explain how Peter and Andrew are said to be of Bethsaida  (John 1:44, 12:21),  whereas Mark mentions their house close to the synagogue in Capernaum  (Mk. 1:29).

Along with Chorazin and Capernaum,  Jesus upbraided Bethsaida for unbelief (Mt. 11:20-23; Lk. 10:13-15).

Tyre and Sidon
Two heathen cities

Tyre is a Phoenician port south of Sidon and north of Carmel. Phoenicia itself is a coastal strip backed by mountains, and Tyre was further defended by rocky promontories (one of them the famous “Ladder of Tyre”), that effectively hampered invasion.
The notorious Jezebel, who became Ahab’s queen, was the daughter of one of the Phoenician rulers.

Sidon is a Phoenician city midway between Berytus (Beirut) and Tyre.
Small offshore islands made an excellent port.  Sidon appears in the Old Testament as the chief city of Phoenicia,  and the name was applied frequently to the whole nation.
Sidon had a bad name in Scripture as a hotbed of Phoenician idolatry,  and of Gentile materialism.

Although Jesus never actually visited the cities of Tyre and Sidon, He did go into the general neighborhood.
Sidon was not more than 50 miles from Nazareth.  And Sidonians resorted to Him  (Mk. 3:8; Lk. 6:17).

Sackcloth and Ashes

Sackcloth is a course cloth, dark in color, usually made of goat’s hair. It was worn by:

Mourners.
Often by Prophets.
Captives

Its exact shape is not known.

Some think That originally it was a loincloth, that in prehistoric times was the only article of clothing worn by the ancestors of Israel, and which in later times was worn only as a religious duty.
Others think It was like a corn-sack, with openings for the neck and arms. It was usually worn over another garment, but sometimes next to the skin.

They would cover themselves with this coarse cloth,  sprinkled over with ashes.
This is the “sackcloth and ashes” referred to,  and this covering was

the outward sign of deep repentance,
and forsaking of sin.

And you, Capernaum who are exalted to heaven
A Hebrew metaphor,  expressive of the utmost prosperity,  and the enjoyment of the greater privileges.
This was properly spoken of this city,  because that in it Jesus dwelt,  and wrought many of His miraculous works.

Will be brought down to Hades

Hádou Hades, Hell

The word for  “hell”  in this place is from  “Hades”,  which was the  “invisible receptacle or mansion of the dead,”  answering to the Hebrew  “Sheol;”  and implying:

1. The Grave
2. The state of separate souls, or unseen world of spirits, whether in torment, or in general

The English word  “hell”  comes from the Anglo-Saxon,  “helan”,  that was  “to cover, or hide,”  hence the tiling or slating of a house is called,  in some parts of England  “heling,” and the covers of books by the same name:  so the literal import of the original word was formerly well expressed by it.

Here it means a state of the utmost ruin and desolation to which these impenitent cities would be reduced.
This prediction of Jesus was literally fulfilled;  for,  in the wars between the Romans and the Jews,  these cities were totally destroyed,  so that no traces are now found  (no substantial remains)  of Bethsaida,  Chorazin,  or Capernaum.

Sodom
One of the so-called  “Cities of the Plain,”  the others being Admah,  Gomorrah,  Zeboiim,  and Zoar.
The site of  “the Plain”  has been variously conjectured.
A passage in Sir George Adam Smith runs:  “Though the glare of this catastrophe burns still, the ruins of it have entirely disappeared, and there remains in the valley no authentic trace of the names it has torn and scattered to infamy across the world.”

Little more can be said,  though recently the suggestion has been revived that  “the Plain”  is the shallow southern end of the Dead Sea,  and that the waters cover the remains.

Sodom became a name for vice,  infamy,  and judgment.
Because of the evil practiced there, we have the term  “sodomy”  that refers to male prostitution, or homosexuals. God strictly forbade this practice (Deut. 23:17).
Usually the practice was in connection with heathen worship.  And its presence was a sign of departure from the Lord.

Both Asa and Jehoshaphat took measures against this sin,  but its practice continued,  until in the days of Josiah it was being practiced in Jehovah’s house.

Jesus here says that it will be more tolerable in the day of judgment for those guilty of such horrible crimes who were before the time of the Gospel,  then it would be for relatively  “good”  people who resisted and rejected the Gospel of Christ.

JESUS  ANOINTED  BY  SIMON  THE  PHARISEE

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Luke 7:36-50
(36) Then one of the Pharisees asked Him to eat with him. And He went to the Pharisee's house, and sat down to eat.  (37)  And behold, a woman in the city who was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at the table in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster flask of fragrant oil,  (38)  and stood at His feet behind Him weeping; and she began to wash His feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head; and she kissed His feet and anointed them with the fragrant oil.  (39)  Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he spoke to himself, saying,  "This Man, if He were a prophet, would know who and what manner of woman this is who is touching Him, for she is a sinner."
(40)  And Jesus answered and said to him, "Simon, I have something to say to you."
So he said, "Teacher, say it."
(41)  "There was a certain creditor who had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty.  (42)  And when they had nothing with which to repay, he freely forgave them both. Tell Me, therefore, which of them will love him more?"
(43)  Simon answered and said, "I suppose the one whom he forgave more."
And He said to him, "You have rightly judged."  (44)  Then He turned to the woman and said to Simon, "Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has washed My feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head.  (45)  You gave Me no kiss, but this woman has not ceased to kiss My feet since the time I came in.  (46)  You did not anoint My head with oil, but this woman has anointed My feet with fragrant oil.  (47)  Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little."
(48)  Then He said to her, "Your sins are forgiven."
(49)  And those who sat at the table with Him began to say to themselves, "Who is this who even forgives sins?"
(50)  Then He said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you. Go in peace."
NKJV

Excerpts from Farrar
    
Jesus received and accepted an invitation from one of the Pharisees for dinner, which bore the very common name of Simon.  The cause or object of the invitation we do not know.  Probably,  in inviting him,  Simon was influenced partly by curiosity,  partly by the desire to receive a popular and distinguished teacher,  partly by willingness to show a distant approval of something that may have struck him in Christ’s looks,  or words, or ways.  It is quite clear that the hospitality was meant to be qualified and condescending.  All the ordinary attentions that would have been paid to an honored guest were coldly and cautiously omitted.

     In order that the mats or carpets that are hallowed by domestic prayer may not be rendered unclean by a pollution of the streets,  each guest,  as he enters a house in Syria or Palestine,  takes off his sandals,  and leaves them at the door.  He then proceeds to his place at the table.  In ancient times,  as we find throughout the Old Testament,  it was the custom of the Jews to eat their meals sitting cross-legged  in front of a tray placed on a low stool,  on which is set the dish containing the heap of food,  from which all help themselves in common.
But this custom,  though it has been resumed for centuries,  appears to have been abandoned by the Jews in the period succeeding the Captivity.  Whether they had borrowed the recumbent posture at meals from the Persians or not,  it is certain,  from the expressions employed,  that in the time of Jesus the Jews,  like the Greeks and Romans,  reclined at banquets,  upon couches placed round tables of much the same height as those now in use.
The beautiful and profoundly moving incident that occurred in Simon’s house can only be understood by remembering that as the guests lay on the couches that surrounded the tables, their feet would be turned towards any spectators who were standing outside the circle of bidden guests.

     An Oriental’s house is by no means his castle. The universal prevalence of the law of hospitality – the very first of Eastern virtues – almost forces him to live with open doors,  and any one may at any time have access to his rooms.  But on this occasion there was one who had summoned up courage to intrude upon that respectable dwelling-place,  a presence that was not only unwelcome,  but also positively odious.
A poor,  stained,  fallen woman,  notorious in the place for her evil life,  discovering that Jesus was supping in the house of the Pharisees,  ventured to make her way there among the throng of other visitants,  carrying with her an alabaster box of spikenard.  She found the object of her search,  and as she stood humbly behind Him,  and listened to His words and thought of all that He was,  and all to which she had fallen – thought of the stainless,  sinless purity of the holy and youthful Prophecy,  and of her own shameful,  degraded life – she began to weep,  and her tears dropped fast upon His unsandled feet,  over which she bent lower and lower to hide her confusion and her shame.

     The Pharisee would have started back with horror from the touch,  still more from the tear, of such a one;  he would have wiped away the fancied pollution, and driven off the presumptuous intruder with a curse. But this woman felt instinctively that Jesus would not treat her so;  she felt that the highest sinless ness is also the deepest sympathy; she saw that where the hard respectability of her fellow-sinner would repel, the perfect holiness of her Savior would receive.

     And she was emboldened by being unreproved;  and thus becoming conscious that, whatever others might do,  the Lord at any rate did not loathe or scorn her,  she drew yet nearer to Him,  and,  sinking down upon her knees,  began with her long disheveled hair to wipe the feet which had been wetted with her tears,  and then to cover them with kisses,  and at last – breaking the alabaster vase – to bathe them with the precious fragrance.

     Simon the Pharisee looked on with icy dislike and disapproval.  The irresistible appeal to pity of that despairing and broken-hearted mourner did not move him.  It was not enough for him that Jesus had but suffered the unhappy creature to kiss and anoint His feet,  without speaking to her as yet one word of encouragement.

     He ought to have repulsed her with contempt and indignation,  as Simon would himself have done.  Her mere touch almost involved the necessity of a ceremonial quarantine.  One sign from Him,  and Simon would have been only glad of an excuse for ejecting such pollution from the shelter of his roof.

     “Simon, I have something to say to thee… There was a certain creditor who had two debtors:  the one owed five hundred pence,  and the other fifty;  and when they had nothing to pay,  he freely forgave them both.  Tell me then,  which of them will love him most?”

     Simon does not seen to have had the slightest conception that the question had any reference to him – as little conception as David had when he pronounced so frank a judgment on Nathan’s parable.
(Life of Christ by Dr. Frederic W. Farrar Copyright: 1949)

Simon
As for the names Simon and Judas,  which have led to so many identifications of different persons and different incidents,  they were at least as common among the Jews of that day as Smith and Jones among us.

There are 5 or 6 Judas,  and 9 Simons mentioned in the New Testament
There are 2 Judas and 2 Simons among the Apostles alone.
Josephus speaks of some 10 Judas and 20 Simons in his writings

Three things here not done for Jesus that was customarily done

1. Wash the feet of the guest
As the Jews would have nothing like our shoes  (it was a mere sole,  bound about the foot with thongs),  their feet being so much exposed had frequent need of washing,  and they ordinarily did this before taking their meals.  And always for a guest.
2. A Kiss of greeting
This was used in ancient times as the emblem of love, reverence, subjection, and supplication. It was also the customary greeting to kiss the guest on the cheek.
3. Anoint the head with oil
Anointing the head with oil was as common among the Jews as washing the face with water is among us.  This was the third token of hospitality and good will that a host would offer a guest – to anoint his head with oil before dinner.

These three common curacies the  “righteous”  Pharisee with held from Jesus,  and yet,  the dirty,  sinful woman ceased not to wash His feet with her tears,  kiss His feet,  and anoint His feet,  not with common oil,  but with expensive and aromatic ointment.

Alabaster box
Alabaster was a fine translucent stone,  used only to make decorative pieces.
The box of ointment must have been exceedingly valuable

500 Denarii

How often are we willing to take whatever we can get from Him, 
while not letting Him have so much as the common cortices of a thankful heart? 
Or are we like the woman – willing to give Him our all,  just to be near Him?

2 Reasons for forgiveness
1. For she (loves) much
2. Faith

COMPANIONS  OF  JESUS  ON  THE  TOUR  IN  GALILEE

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Luke 8:1-3

(1)  Now it came to pass, afterward, that He went through every city and village, preaching and bringing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with Him,  (2)  and certain women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities -- Mary called Magdalene, out of whom had come seven demons,  (3)  and Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod's steward, and Susanna, and many others who provided for Him from their substance
NKJV

Certain women

1. Mary called Magdalene
 
Her name probably indicates that she came from Magdala, on the southwest coast of the Sea of Galilee. Jesus healed her of  7 demons. 
Many believe that Mary Magdalene was the  “sinner”  who invaded the banquet at the house of  Simon to anoint Jesus,  but there is no certainty of this.  (Luke 7:36-50 )
She was one of the group of women who gave money and provisions to Jesus and the disciple band, and accompanied them on some of their preaching and healing tours.
She was with the group that went with Jesus from Galilee to Jerusalem on His final trip and witnessed the crucifixion.  (John 19:25)
She and Mary the mother of Joses followed Joseph of Arimathea and saw where Jesus was laid.
(Mark 15:47)
She went to the tomb expecting to perform some of the funeral arrangements and was amazed to be confronted by the risen Lord.  (Matt 28:1-8)
 Mary Magdalene was the first to know of the resurrection.    (John 20:11)
There are no historic details about her subsequent life.
1. Joanna
 
One of that loyal group of women who were followers of Jesus. 
She was the wife of Chuza,  Herod Antipas’ superintendent of royal properties. The word "steward" means one who has charge of the domestic affairs of a family, to provide for it. This office was generally held by a "slave" who was esteemed the most faithful, and was often conferred as a reward of fidelity.
Healed by Jesus,  Joanna gratefully supplied Jesus and the 12 with money for their needs. 
She went to Jerusalem with the group that accompanied Jesus on His last journey.
Joanna was with the handful of women that went to the tomb to embalm Jesus’ body and,  instead was surprised by the unexpected news of the resurrection.  (Luke 24:1-12)
1. Susanna
 
One of the group of women who provided for Jesus and His disciples.
She was apparently a woman of some means, perhaps a widow.

These three women seem to have had several things in common. Among them were:

1. They were delivered of evil spirits.  
2. They had been healed of infirmities.  
3. They were all apparently wealthy to some extent.  
4. They were all from Galilee.  
5. They closely followed Jesus, and loved Him dearly.  

THE  BLIND - DUMB DEMONIAC HEALED - GROWING OPPOSITION

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Matthew 12:22-37
 
(22)  Then one was brought to Him who was demon-possessed, blind and mute; and He healed him, so that the blind and mute man both spoke and saw.  (23)  And all the multitudes were amazed and said, "Could this be the Son of David?"
(24)  Now when the Pharisees heard it they said, "This fellow does not cast out demons except by Beelzebub, the ruler of the demons."
(25)  But Jesus knew their thoughts, and said to them: "Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand.  (26)  If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand? 
(27)  And if I cast out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they shall be your judges.  (28)  But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you. 
(29)  Or how can one enter a strong man's house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house. 
(30)  He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad.
(31)  Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men.  (32)  Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come."
(33)  Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or else make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for a tree is known by its fruit.  (34)  Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.  (35)  A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things.  (36)  But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment.  (37)  For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned."
NKJV
Mark 3:22-30
(22)  Then the multitude came together again, so that they could not so much as eat bread. 
(21)  But when His own people heard about this, they went out to lay hold of Him, for they said, "He is out of His mind."
(22)  And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, "He has Beelzebub," and, "By the ruler of the demons He casts out demons."
(23)  So He called them to Himself and said to them in parables: "How can Satan cast out Satan?  (24)  If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.  (25)  And if a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.  (26)  And if Satan has risen up against himself, and is divided, he cannot stand, but has an end.
(27)  No one can enter a strong man's house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man. And then he will plunder his house.
(28) Assuredly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they may utter;  (29)   but he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is subject to eternal condemnation"   (30)  because they said, "He has an unclean spirit."
NKJV
Luke 11:14-23
 
(14) And He was casting out a demon, and it was mute. So it was, when the demon had gone out, that the mute spoke; and the multitudes marveled. (15) 
But some of them said, "He casts out demons by Beelzebub, the ruler of the demons."
(16)  Others, testing Him, sought from Him a sign from heaven. 
(17)  But He, knowing their thoughts, said to them: "Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and a house divided against a house falls.  (18)  If Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand? Because you say I cast out demons by Beelzebub. 
(19)  And if I cast out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges.  (20)  But if I cast out demons with the finger of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you. 
(21)  When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his goods are in peace.  (22)  But when a stronger than he comes upon him and overcomes him, he takes from him all his armor in which he trusted, and divides his spoils. 
(23)  He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters."
NKJV

Beelzebub
From “Baalzebub”,  worshipped by the Philistines at  Ekron.
Ahaziah consulted him to find out whether he should recover from his illness,  and was therefore rebuked by Elijah. There can be little doubt that Beelzebub is the same as Baalzebub.

Dr. Lightfoot offers some pertinent information of this horrid blasphemy:

1. Among the Jews it was held,  for a matter of religion,  to reproach idols,  and to give them odious names.  Rabbi Akibah saith – Thou shalt cast away the idol as something that is abominable, and thou shalt say to it, Get thee hence. Rabbi Lazar saith – Thou shalt say to it, Get thee hence: that which they call the face of God, let them call the Fountain of Toil. That which they call Fortune, let them call A Stink.
2. Among the ignominious names bestowed upon idols,  the general and common one was Zebul, “dung, or a dunghill.”
3. Very many names of evil spirits,  or devils,  occur in the Talmud.
Among all the devils,  they esteemed that devil the worst,  the foulest,  as it were,  the prince of the rest,  who ruled over the idols,  and by whom oracles and miracles were given forth among the Heathen and idolaters.  This demon they called   Ba`al-Zªbuwl  (Baal-zebul),  not so much by a proper name,  as by one more general and common;  as much as to say,  the Lord of idolatry:  the worst devil,  and the worst thing;  and they called him the prince of devils, because idolatry is the prince of wickedness.
4. Many of the Mss. have  “Beelzebub”,  which,  literally translated,  is the “dung god”,  a title expressive of the utmost contempt.  It seems probable that the worship of this vile idol continued even to this time.

Jesus knew their  thoughts

The reasoning of the Pharisees was not expressed,  and Jesus,  knowing their thoughts,  gave them ample proof of His omniscience.  This,  with His masterly confutation of their reasoning,  by a conclusion drawn from their own premises,  one would have supposed might have humbled and convinced these men;  but the most conclusive reasoning,  and the most astonishing miracles,  were lost upon a people who were  OBSTINATELY DETERMINED  to disbelieve every thing good,  relative to Jesus Christ.

Jesus had already given ample proof of who He was:

1. The time and place of His birth fulfilled Scripture.
2. The witness of John and God Himself at the baptism of Jesus.
3. Healing the Leper, which was to be a sign of the Messiah.
4. Knowing the very thoughts of men:
a. When He healed the paralytic
b. When He healed the blind-dumb demoniac
c. Simon the Pharisee
5. Giving life to the dead, which only God can do
6 Power greater than all the demons and evil of Satan

Their Statement

He casts out demons by Beelzebub the ruler of demons

His Reply - Examples

1. Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation
2. Every city or house divided against itself will not stand
3. If  Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself
4. No one can enter a strong man's house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man
5 He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathers not with me scatters

His Statement

THEREFORE  … Whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come

Examples

1. Either make the tree good and its fruit good,  or else make the tree bad and its fruit bad;   for a tree is known by its fruit
2. Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks
3. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things
4. An evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things

His Statement

Every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment
For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned


 

(End of Lesson Ten)

   

 


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