SUMMARY.--John Sends from Prison to Christ. Christ's Answer. The Character of John the Baptist. None Greater Before Him. The Least in the Kingdom. The Criticisms of John and Christ. The Woes of Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum. Wisdom Hid from the Wise, but Given unto Babes. The Sweet Invitation.
16. Whereunto shall I liken this generation? Compare Luke 7:31-35 . The Jewish nation is meant. The Lord shows that they were as capricious as children. Children sitting in the markets. All ancient towns had an open market place, which was the great place of resort.
17. We piped unto you. One set of children is represented as having invited another set to play, first in a mock wedding, then in a mock funeral, but the dissatisfied children were pleased with neither, and would neither dance nor lament.
18. John came neither eating nor drinking. At feasts. He lived abstemiously and austerely. He hath a demon. They accused him of being under the influence of evil spirits; of being a crank, or fanatic.
19. The Son of man came eating. Like other men. He was at the wedding feast of Cana ( John 2:1-11 ); at Matthew's feast, ( Matt. 9:10 ), etc. A wine-bibber. There was nothing singular about his social habits. Like all the people, he drank the light, harmless wine of Palestine, either free from, or with a very slight percentage of, alcohol. Our modern wines are very different. A friend of publicans and sinners. See note on Matt. 9:12, 13. Wisdom is justified of her children. Those who are wise will approve both the course of John and his Lord.
20. Then he began to upbraid the cities, etc. Compare Luke 10:12-15 . The cities in the vicinity of the Sea of Galilee had, thus far, heard and seen the most of the Lord and had the least excuse for rejecting him. In all the reproofs of Jesus there is sadness in the severity. The very denunciations seem to mourn. Wherein most of his mighty works were done. We know of a number of miracles which had been wrought in these cities, the healing of the centurion's servant, of the son of the nobleman, of the diseased woman, of two blind men, and the raising of the daughter of Jairus. The Scriptures assure us that these were only a very small part of the mighty works he did. See Matt. 9:35 . Because they repented not. The great end proposed by the gospel is repentance and a new life.
21. Woe unto thee, Chorazin. Chorazin has long been extinct, and its site is not certainly known. It is named only here and in Luke 10:13 . Situated about two miles from the ruins of Tell-Hum, thought to be Capernaum, there are ruins now called Kerazeh, including a synagogue, columns and walls of buildings, supposed to mark the site of Chorazin. Woe unto thee, Bethsaida. The word means "House of fish," and the name would imply that it was a fishing town, and it was the home of the fishermen, Peter, Andrew and Philip ( John 1:44 ). Its locality is in dispute. It was probably situated on both sides of the Jordan, where it emptied into the Sea of Galilee. The ruins of a city lie there, mostly on the east side of the river. For if the mighty works had been done in Tyre and Sidon. These were rich Phoenician trading cities on the east shore of the Mediterranean. Tyre was long the chief commercial city of the world; it still exists as a wretched town. In sackcloth and ashes. The symbols of mourning and repentance. See Jonah 3:5 , on the repentance of Nineveh. Sackcloth was a kind of coarse cloth, woven of camel's hair.
22. It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment. These solemn words teach: 1. That there will be a day of judgment for all, cities, nations and men. 2. That men will be judged according to their opportunities; that those who have had and neglected opportunities will be held most guilty. 3. That there will be different degrees of future punishment, according to guilt and opportunities; that those whose opportunities have been greatest will receive the greater punishment, if these are neglected. Every man will be judged and punished according to his opportunities and works. The idea of a hell of the same severity for all the unsaved is nowhere taught by Christ.
23. And thou, Capernaum. Capernaum was at that time a city of 30,000 inhabitants. Its site also is disputed. Most locate it on the lake shore, at the ruins called Tell-Hum, but others locate it about three miles north of the ruins of Tell-Hum. It enjoyed signal advantages as being the Galilean home of Christ, who taught in its streets, houses and synagogue, and worked many miracles there. Art exalted unto heaven. By the privilege of having Christ as an inhabitant. Shalt be brought down to hell. Not hell, but hades, the unseen. Capernaum shall disappear from human view. Within less than forty years Capernaum was destroyed by the Romans, and for many centuries has not had an existence. And remained until this day. Note the inference: 1. Sodom was destroyed for its sins. 2. Had it not been sinful it would have "remained." 3. Therefore it is sins that destroy cities and nations. Jerusalem, Babylon, Sodom, Capernaum, and other extinct ancient cities have perished on account of their sins. 4. Modern cities which scoff at God and revel in iniquity will "be brought down to hades" also. Permanent temporal prosperity depends on righteousness.
24. More tolerable for Sodom in the day of judgment. Because it had poor opportunities. Sodom had fallen two thousand years before Christ, and had been extinct ever since, yet the Lord speaks of a future day of judgment for both Sodom and Capernaum. Therefore, 1. There is a judgment after death. 2. Temporal punishment for wickedness does not satisfy eternal justice. The Sodomites were held to a future judgment. 3. The inhabitants of Sodom had not been annihilated, but were alive, waiting for the judgment.
25. At that time. Immediately after this judgment upon the impenitent cities was denounced. O Father, Lord of heaven and earth. Christ addresses God as his Father, not as his Lord. The obedience he yields is that of a Son, not of a subject. Four more times, in deep emotion, Christ thus addresses the Father ( John 11:41 John 12:28 John 17:1 12:28 ). That thou didst hide these things from the wise and prudent. From the worldly wise Pharisees and Jews. God had hid these things from this latter class through the natural operation of their own corrupted hearts and perverted minds. Babes. The simple and believing.
26. Even so, Father, for so it seemed good, etc. "Even so" is better rendered "Yea."
27. All things have been delivered unto me of my Father. The Lord speaks, in part, in anticipation. It was the divine purpose, in sending the Son, to deliver "all things," the gospel, salvation, judgment, the rule of heaven and earth, to him. No one knoweth the Father but the Son. He only is in the secret of the Divine counsels. And he to whom the Son willeth to reveal him. Christ is the revelation of God to man. "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father." Those who "know" Christ by humble obedience and docility learn to know the Father also.
28. Come unto me. This is one of the sweetest passages in the New Testament. It shows the willingness of the Lord. The kings and earth and the great are usually difficult of access, while Jesus is not only willing, but invites us, to come to him. Note how gracious is the invitation! 1 It is the Lord who speaks. 2. He invites to come to him. 3. The invitation is to those who labor and are heavy laden. 4. He promises, to all these weary ones who come, rest. The offer is not that of a man, but of the Divine Savior. Millions in all ages since can bear witness that the promise is sure. Labor and are heavy laden. Feel heavily the burdens of life, of sin and sorrow. Rest. Peace of soul.
29. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me. He has first asked us to come, and made a gracious promise. He next shows us how to come. We are to come by taking his yoke upon us. Taking on the yoke is a symbol of submission. The two steps by which we come, and secure the promise of "rest unto our souls" are then 1. Submission to Christ. 2. Becoming his disciples.
30. For my yoke is easy. The yoke that sin imposes is heavy, and bearing it brings no rest. So, too, the yoke of false or corrupted religion is burdensome; but Christ's yoke is easy. It is not hard to bear it because it is borne in love. His burden, even if it be the cross, is light, because he helps us to bear it. Note: That one rejecting Christ in the midst of light is worse than a heathen. Christ graciously invites all to come to him. He is the rest of the soul.