To understand Jesus’ “woe” statements, one needs to understand history. While Tyre and Sidon were now (in Jesus’ time) prosperous cities, their pride, pagan behavior, and anti-Israel behavior had gotten them a lot of punishment. After Ezekiel’s prophesy, the cities weren’t washed clean, but wiped-off-the-map cleansed. Because of their geography, those locations would recover (and even retain their name), but the penalty received had been severe.
In the time of Jesus, Tyre and Sidon were still very pagan, Las Vegas and New Orleans (during Mardi Gras) pagan. Devotion to gods or God was perfunctory at best. Money was the ruler. Yet…
Jesus stated that those cities would have responded (positively) to the Kingdom of God, while the so-called devoted of Judah were apathetic or antagonistic!
We look at our culture and often sadly proclaim that if they could just see Jesus, they would convert. Or if they joined the church, everything would be fine. Or (yes, foot-stomping ahead) if only prayer and the Bible would be allowed in schools again…
The Jews had prayer. They had the Scriptures. They had “the church” (i.e., the temple and synagogues). It was all tightly integrated into their culture and their politics (more foot-stomping). Look where that got them! Chided and lectured by Jesus!
1) Truly…are we all that different now than the Jews were then?
2) Politicians—of all stripes—are rightly pulling and poking at our religious- and faith-strings. They see what we aren’t good at seeing…our inconsistency. They use it to bolster their kingdom. How can you separate the religious and faith truths from the political lies? How will you do that as each political group takes some, but not all, of the Christian ideology for political talking points?
3) If the world is like Tyre and Sidon, and we are like the Chorazin and Bethsaida (the unrepentant Jewish cities), what do they (the world) see that we don’t about Jesus and the Kingdom of God?