A Town Cursed by Jesus

 

 

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A Town Cursed by Jesus

Chorazin is about two and a half miles from Capernaum on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee.
 
source: Daily Bible Study
 

Chorazin, along with Bethsaida and Capernaum, was named in the New Testament gospels of Matthew and Luke as cities that Jesus cursed because they rejected him and did not repent.(Matthew 11:20-24; see also Luke 10:13-15)

MT 11:20 Then Jesus began to denounce the cities in which most of his miracles had been performed, because they did not repent. 21 "Woe to you, Korazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! If the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. 22 But I tell you, it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you. 23 And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted up to the skies? No, you will go down to the depths. If the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Sodom, it would have remained to this day. 24 But I tell you that it will be more bearable for Sodom on the day of judgment than for you." 

The three places, Capernaum, Chorazin and Bethsaida are known as “the evangelical triangle” by some scholars today. Jesus performed in the evangelical triangle his “mighty works” and laid the foundation of his ministry.In Capernaum, he healed a paralyzed man. In order to get him to the house, the audience had to remove the roof of the building and lower him through it.

In another episode a Roman military commander (a centurion), who dwelt in the village, approached him. The centurion asked him to heal a boy who was lying sick at his home. The centurion knew that Jesus would not go to his home to heal the child because a Halakhah (Jewish law), decreed by the Rabbis, forbade Jews to enter gentiles’ homes. Jesus was thrilled by the centurion’s faith because he did not find such faith among his Jewish fellowmen.

    “Go home,” he said, “and the boy will be healed.”

In the evangelical triangle Jesus met his first disciples. They were Simon-Peter, the fisherman from Bethsaida, and his brother Andrew. Jesus told them to stop being fishers of fish and become fishers of men. Philip, another disciple, was from Bethsaida as well. Two more fishermen, James and John, the sons of Zebedee, probably also came from this town. In addition to healing individuals, Jesus performed miracles to the multitude. On a plain not far from Bethsaida, he was followed by a crowd of 5,000 people and when there was nothing for the crowd to eat, Jesus managed to feed the crowd with just two fish and five loaves of bread (Matt. 14:13-21).

On two other occasions he preached the famous sermons in which he laid the foundation of the Christian faith. One sermon was made from the top of a mound and the other was made from a boat to a crowd who had gathered on the seashore.(source: Dr. Rami Arav, Professor at the University of Nebraska, Omaha and the Director of the Bethsaida Excavations Project)

 


 
The city was established in the 1st century AD. The remains that are seen today belong to a later period, the period of the Mishna and Talmud (3rd/4th century AD), when the city was expanded.
 
The Jewish Synagogue was built in the Byzantine period, in the 3rd/4th century, according to a hoard of coins found under the synagogue. The synagogue is a typical rectangular 23M long, 17M wide, double row structure, north-south orientation. Its style is similar to the Capernaum and Hammat-Gader synagogues.
 
The site was destroyed at the middle of the 4th C, as described by Eusebius of Caesarea, which relates the destruction of the city to the prophecy of Jesus. This was also established by the excavations. The destruction may have been caused by an earthquake (363 AD).
 
The site was restored at the end of the 4th C, and continued until the 8th C.  It expanded during the early Arabic period (7-8th C AD). After a gap of several hundred years, was revived in the 13th C. Near the entrance there is a tomb from the Mamluk period - the grave of Sheik Ramadan. (source: http://www.biblewalks.com/Sites/Korazim.html)

 

 
ruins leading to the synagogue

 
stone ruins of the central residential area

 
 
a Galilee style synagogue
The synagogue at Chorazin is a typical "Galilean" style synagogue. These synagogues are characterized by 1) a basilical shape with three hallways separated by two rows of pillars; 2) three doorways and the central one is the largest; 3) benches around the interior walls; 4) a stylobate to support the weight of the arches.(source: http://www.bibleplaces.com/chorazin.htm)
 
archway in the walls of the synagogue which leads to the ritual bath
pillars supporting the roof of the syngagogue
The Seat of Moses in the synagogue
 

2 "The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat. 3 So you must obey them and do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. 4 They tie up heavy loads and put them on men's shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them. (Matt 23:2-3)

 


 

With great revelation comes great accountability

 
Many of us are familiar with the quote “with great power comes great responsibility.” We attribute it to Stan Lee in Amazing Fantasy #15, August 1962 (the first Spider-Man story) and from "Uncle" Ben Parker, in the Spider-Man (2002) movie. Actually the quote originated from Voltaire in France in 1832. This quote tells of the moral obligation of great power.
 
In Matthew 11:20-24 and Luke 10:13-15 where Jesus denounced/upbraided/cursed Chorazin, along with Bethsaida and Capernaum because the people rejected him in spite of the fact that in these cities Jesus spent a lot of time teaching and performed most of his miracles. The moral implication of receiving more revelations of God is to repent. Coming closer to the Holy God will bring to light our own sinfulness and should lead to repentance. Yet the people of Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum did not repent. Before we make excuses for them that a prophet is not recognized in his hometown, these are not Jesus’ hometowns. Jesus is from Nazareth.
 
Many of us, as Christians, think that as long as we are saved by the redemptive work of Christ on the cross, we are okay. We have the ticket to eternal life. Why do we need to please God anymore? Why do we need to go out of our way to live a life of holiness? Is it not enough to turn up in church now and then, tithe a little and continue living the life we enjoy? It is hard to be countercultural as kingdom living is. Much easier, comfortable and be part of the in-crowd to be living as the non-believers do. In some ways, we are similar to the ancient Jews in Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum. They are God’s chosen people as evidenced by the Temple in Jerusalem and they have the Torah. What else is needed?
 
For the basis of what else is needed I will like to coin a phrase “with great revelation comes great accountability.” Yes, we have averted the eternal wraith of God but we have a moral impetus to become holy or like Christ himself. There are two judgments by God in the Bible. One is for non-Christians and the other is for Christians. Everyone has to be accountable for their own actions. For non-Christian, the Great White Throne judgment is found in Revelations 20:11-15. For Christians, the judgment at the Day of the Judgment Seat of Christ is not for the sins (which Jesus have redeemed) but for our actions (1 Cor. 3:11-15).
 
11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13 his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man's work. 14 If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. 15 If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.
 
God has not ceased to reveal himself to us. As revelation in Jesus’ time should lead to repentance, revelation in our time will cause us to become more like Christ. In other words, revelation will help to strengthen our faith and make us holy (sanctification). The impetus is for us to live holy lives so that Jesus will not denounced/upbraided/cursed our actions on earth on that fateful Day. May he instead say, “well done, good and faithful servant.”


| 5 December 2012 |

 

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