How terrible it will be for you, Chorazin! How terrible for you too, Bethsaida! If the miracles which were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, the people there would have long ago put on sackcloth and sprinkled ashes on themselves, to show that they had turned from their sins. I assure you that on the Judgment Day God will show more mercy to the people of Tyre and Sidon than to you!
And as for you, Capernaum! Did you want to lift yourself up to heaven? You will be thrown down to hell! If the miracles which were performed in you had been performed in Sodom, it would still be in existence today! You can be sure that on the Judgment Day God will show more mercy to Sodom than to you!
If you are in business you know the importance of the Oprah Effect. When Oprah endorses a product the result is big sales. Very big. And when Oprah denounces your product – watch out. Here’s an article from Time magazine describing her run-in with the beef industry:
During the height of the mad-cow scare in 1996, Oprah invited Howard Lyman, a cattle rancher turned vegetarian, onto her show to discuss controversial practices within the beef industry, including a process now banned in the U.S. called “rendering,” which involves turning cow organs into feed for other cattle. While Winfrey challenged some of Lyman’s more outlandish statements — which included the suggestion that the disease could become as infectious as AIDS — she exclaimed at one point that his revelations had “stopped me cold from eating another hamburger!” Beef prices plunged for nearly two weeks after the episode aired, eventually reaching a 10-year low. In response, a group of angry cattle ranchers in Texas filed a $10.3 million lawsuit claiming she defamed the entire industry. They lost. “Free speech not only lives, it rocks,” Oprah told reporters in February 1998 after the Amarillo, Texas, jury ruled in her favor. “I’m still off hamburgers,” she added. (http://content.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,1939460_1939452_1939475,00.html)
From the perspective of time we learn that there is also a “Jesus effect.” When Jesus says he loves a city, like Jerusalem for example, that city prospers. Today Jerusalem is alive and well with a population of about 750,000. But the cities that Jesus curses in these scriptures aren’t doing so well. In fact, none still exists.
The first town, Chorazin, was a village in northern Galilee. Although Chorazin is the site of a National Archaeological Park, they haven’t had any success yet in finding evidence that dates back to the time of Jesus. Most of the structures that have been unearthed are from the 3rd and 4th centuries. The ancient synagogue, which was built of black basalt, had some interesting elements like a pair of stone lions. It also had unusual carvings featuring images of wine-making, animals, a Medusa, an armed soldier, and an eagle. The town was essentially abandoned but there were still a few fishermen living in the area as late as the 16th century. Some theologians in the Middle Ages believed that the Antichrist would be born in Chorazin because of Jesus’ curse, and this probably sealed its fate.
Capernaum was a town of about 1,500 located a couple of miles from Chorazin. Capernaum is also an archaeological site and it contains one of the oldest synagogues in the world. A church near Capernaum is said to be built on the site of the home of St. Peter. Ruins of ancient Capernaum were discovered in the early 1800s and serious excavation began 100 years later. The town was abandoned in the 11th century for unknown reasons.
As for Bethsaida, they can’t even figure out for sure where it was. In fact, they think there may have been two different places named Bethsaida. No one seems to know much about it. No ruins, no nothing.
It’s important to remember why Jesus cursed these towns in the first place. The people of these towns had the privilege and blessing of witnessing and benefitting from miracles that poured out of the heart of God, enabled by the willingness and obedience of Jesus. And yet, these people were ungrateful. They failed to recognize the message of these miracles. They were too dense to understand the significance. They did not respect the power. They took the best that Jesus and God had to offer and tossed it aside. They did not welcome the unfolding of God’s Kingdom. They wanted to do their own thing instead. I think Jesus was blown away by their foolishness, and a little perturbed as well. More than a little. In fact, they put him in a cursing mood.
When Jesus talks, people listen. His blessings stick, and so do his curses. It’s the Jesus Effect.
What does this scripture say to you?