Woe to the Unrepentant (Luke 10:13-16)
Jesus has transitioned from his Galilean ministry to begin his journey toward Jerusalem (9:51). He has sent out seventy-two “others” to enter into the surrounding towns before he gets there and offer them a message of peace (10:5). However, he warned them that some will reject their offer (10:10-12). Our text this afternoon could have easily been added on to the end of last week’s sermon. Its primary purpose is to illustrate the warning that is to be given to unrepentant cities.
What is to be done to those who reject the message of the gospel? They are to be warned that they have rejected God’s mercy and will suffer his wrath if they remain unrepentant.
Just as God can use miraculous works to bring about conversion, he can also work through the warnings of judgment.
Read Luke 10:13-16
I. A Deserving Judgment (13-15)
13 What does it mean to give a woe of judgment? These are statements of miseritude (the opposite of a beatitude). Instead of describing happiness, they describe sadness.
Morris Woe is not a call for vengeance, but an expression of deep regret, ‘Alas’ (cf. 6:24–26).
Woes are often related to God’s enemies, but it can also be used as a warning against living self-centered lives (Lk 6:24-26). Jesus oftentimes directed his woes toward the Pharisees (Lk 11:42-51), but he also uses the language when speaking to his disciples who ought to beware of the danger of causing another to sin (Lk 17:1-3). Paul declared, “Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!” (1 Cor. 9:16). So it is used as a warning against sin in the covenant community. And finally, “woe” is used to describe a personal conviction for sin or a sense of unworthiness (Isa 6:5; Jer 10:19). In that case, it is a warning that leads to repentance, rather than a declaration of certain judgment (Is 6:5-7). Isaiah’s woes against Israel are eventually replaced with statements of comfort (Isa 40:1-2).
What happened in Chorazin and Bethsaida? These were cities that Jesus had been actively ministering. Although there is no other mention of Chorazin in any of the gospels, not everything Jesus did is recorded. Based upon this verse, we know that he visited and did many mighty works there. Bethsaida was the location of the feeding of the 5,000 (9:10-17).
What happened in Tyre and Sidon? Tyre and Sidon were dominate cities located in the land of Canaan and positioned along the Mediterranean coastline for successful maritime trade. They were wealthy and prosperous cities that had little regard for Israel.
- Isaiah gave an oracle of judgment concerning Tyre and Sidon (Isa. 23). After describing the devastation that had “laid waste” to the city (Isa. 23:1), Isaiah declares that God had purposed to destroy the place because of their “pompous pride” (Isa. 23:9).
- Ezekiel also prophesied against the Prince of Tyre whose great wisdom and wealth swelled him up with pride so that he thought of himself as a god (Ezek. 28:2-10). Ezekiel also laments over the King of Tyre whose fall from grace illustrates the love of money and the use of wisdom for vain purposes (Ezek. 28:11-19). Ezekiel follows that up with a prophecy against Sidon for their contempt of Israel (Ezek. 28:20-24).
- Amos opens his book of oracles and visions with a denunciation of Tyre for her cruelty and disloyalty (Amos 1:9-10).
- Jeremiah, Joel, and Zechariah also speak words of condemnation against Tyre and Sidon.
Had Jesus’ miraculous healing been done in Tyre and Sidon—repentance would have occurred. Repentance is linked to “sitting in sackcloth and ashes.”
Stein Sackcloth was a rough cloth made from goat’s hair, and the ashes were either placed on the head (Matt 6:16) or sat on (Job 2:8; Jonah 3:6).
It symbolized grief, but was customary for Jews to endure this uncomfortable practice by way of illustrating how sincere their repentance was. Outward signs of repentance like this are not necessary. God has always been more concerned with our heart than our appearance. But it does point to the idea that true repentance can be demonstrated.
14 This passage admits there will be degrees of judgment. Their judgment would be more severe because their knowledge was more full (Luke 12:47-48).
15 Capernaum received a lot of attention as the headquarters for Jesus’s ministry in Galilee. They witnessed many of his miraculous work (4:23; 7:1-10). They were presumptuous that they knew God, but their end will be in Hades. This language is similar to Isaiah’s judgment of Babylon (Isa. 14:13-15). Hades was a place of torment where the souls of unbelievers go after their death to wait for their final judgment ( Lk. 16:23; Rev. 20:13-14). We do not know how much of a distinction there was between Hades and Hell (Gehenna). Both are used in similar ways to describe a place of punishment for the wicked.
Beale What is striking is that warnings once directed against Israel’s neighbors are now applied to Israel as they too refuse to acknowledge their God.
There is nothing casual about presenting the offer of the gospel. It is not merely one option among many that you can believe. God has revealed himself in his Holy, inerrant, and inspired word. All that he has revealed point to Jesus as the only way, the only truth, and the only life unto salvation. This message is hard to swallow for a culture that rejects objective morality and truth.
And therein lies the dilemma for the believer who is called to share the gospel with others. We can either shrink back from the task in fear of man, or we can accept the responsibility and declare the truth in love. That means we will be sincere and heartfelt in our pleading with the lost. Eternity is at stake.
Every time we take the Lord’s Supper we also spend time confessing our sin. It is a moment where we are reminded that all of life is to be one of repentance for the true believer.
Calvin As men testify by this ceremony their sorrow and grief, it must be preceded by hatred of sin, fear of God, and mortification of the flesh, according to the words of Joel (2:13) “Rend your hearts and not your garments.”
Wherever repentance is proven to be lacking, whether by outright denial or the failure to bear fruit, the declaration of judgment ought to follow. Hell is not an easy topic to consider, but it cannot be avoided if people are going to consider the weight of the choice before them.
This is not simply our judgment, it is…
II. A Divine Judgment (16)
“The one who hears you hears me,” The disciples were required to speak the message that Jesus had given them. As long as they faithfully proclaimed the words of Christ, then his words were effectively multiplied by the number of disciples he had appointed.
“The one who rejects you rejects me,” When we faithfully proclaim Christ we know that people are not only rejecting us, but they are rejecting him. Jesus is identifying himself with his disciples in such a way that he experiences what they experience.
Sproul So committed is Christ to his disciples, so closely does he identify with them, that to abuse a disciple of Christ is seen by God as an abuse of Christ himself.
“The one who rejects me rejects him who sent me.” To reject the Son is to reject the Father who sent him. The evangelist is God’s ambassador. When an ambassador is mistreated, it is a rejection of the one who commissioned him to go.
Jesus testifies here that when we sit under the preaching of God’s Word we are hearing from him. John Calvin argues that to hear to the preaching of the gospel, accurately delivered, is like hearing the message directly from heaven. It is as if angels are bringing to us the word of God, or that he is descending to bring the word to us, or that we can hear His voice coming down from heaven. This ought to stir us up to sit under preaching as often as we can. It might also be why Calvin preached between 5-7 services each week.
- A Deserving Judgment (13-15)
- A Divine Judgment (16)
Clearly point to Christ.
End with a charge.