What did Jesus exactly mean? He said:
“But I say to you that it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment than for you.” (Matthew 11:24 NKJV)
According to Jesus, all the dead, will be raised back to life.
Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth— those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of [lit. judgment]. (John 5:28-29)
Awaiting those who never knew God – the wicked and all unrepentant sinners – is the second resurrection when God will judge them.
Today, when we think of Sodom, we think of wickedness and depravity. Sodom is synonymous with heinous acts of treachery, homosexuality, and mob rule. God passed judgment on those wicked people, and they perished in a fiery blaze.
But, one day, those same people will rise from their graves to face their ultimate judgment. So why will it be “more tolerable” for the Sodomites that it will be for the peoples of Jesus’ day?
“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.” (John 5:24 NKJV)
Those in Sodom, going on what Jesus is saying, perhaps have never heard of the true God. They never had the opportunity to believe in the One who became Jesus, and so how can they be accused of refusing the Son of God? But to the Jews of Jesus’ day who opposed Him, according to Jesus – well, it seems they’ll be judged with a less than a favourable outcome.
The Sodomites faced their punishment a long time ago. And yet, it would appear from Jesus’ own words, that it will be “more tolerable” for them on the day of judgment. That is, will it be slightly less hot in hell for them than it is for others? Of course not. Does it mean that they may ultimately be given the opportunity for salvation in Jesus Christ? Think about it.
God is a righteous Judge. He is a God of mercy, and according to Jesus’ own brother, “Mercy triumphs over judgment.” (James 2:13)
We must be very careful at how we interpret the scriptures. If you think that the second resurrection is an automatic condemnation to an eternal and fiery obliteration, think again. That’s not what Jesus said.