Matthew 12:38-45 – How Much More Evidence Do You Need?

Posted: December 19, 2015 in Gospel of Matthew

Matthew 12:38-45
Religious Leaders Ask Jesus for a Miraculous Sign

Have you ever had somebody argue with you where you feel like you are arguing with a stop sign? They have already made their mind up and there is no convincing them of your side of the story. You give them all the evidence that disproves their point and, yet, they persist that they are right and everyone else even the natural universe is wrong. Yeah, that’s pretty frustrating. You get pissed off and hang up the phone or if it a “live and in-person” conversation, you simply cut the conversation off and walk away. That kind of conversation brings us to today’s passage.

Here in these last several passages, you and I have seen the growing conflict between Jesus and the Pharisees and scribes. And, here, after all the evidence that Jesus has presented, by the very miracles that He has been performing, the Pharisees make an extraordinary claim. They want a sign of Jesus’ authority. They want another miracle! Can you believe that? Wow! They had just seen him heal a man’s hand right in front of them. They had seen Jesus heal a blind and demon-possessed man. What more could Jesus do? I would imagine if I was in Jesus’ shoes, I would laughed a sarcastic laugh and lit into them and walked away. If I was in Jesus’ shoes, I would have been pissed off at the very comment. What more do you guys want from me? Geez! You just witnessed two miracles here today and you want another! Jesus has more patience than me! I would have lost it and ripped ‘em a new one!

Here is what Matthew 12:38-45 says,

38 Then some of the Pharisees and teachers of the law said to him, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from you.”

39 He answered, “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40 For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. 41 The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now something greater than Jonah is here. 42 The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon’s wisdom, and now something greater than Solomon is here.

43 “When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. 44 Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. 45 Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first. That is how it will be with this wicked generation.”
This passage reminds me of several types of people in the world today. There are people who want Jesus to get them out of a jam and then they will believe. Then, there are people who refuse to believe in Jesus altogether. Let’s look at these two groups.

The first ones are those fringe “believers”. They are the ones who claim to be Christian but really have no faith at all. They treat Jesus like the Pharisees treated Jesus. Scott Harris in his online sermon, “What Sign are You Looking For?” says it this way, “how many of you are still seeking some sort of sign from Christ before you will obey Him the way you know you should? What sort of thing are you demanding He do in your life before you will quit playing games and get down to the business of being conformed into His image and live a holy life? Does He have to heal you physically or emotionally? Does He have to fix the mess you have made for yourself – or that someone else has made for you? Does He have to make you wealthy and remove all the struggles of life you are in? Jesus does not have to do anything else to prove Himself or His love to you – He has done all that He needs to do – He died in your place. In His wonderful grace He continues to do things for us beyond all measure, but when you demand something from Him before you will obey Him, you are in the same boat as the Scribes and Pharisees. We were saved to serve God. Let’s get past this foolish mindset that always wants something from God before we will believe Him and then act like we are doing God a favor when we obey Him.” Yet, we persist in demanding Jesus perform for us at our command. If you will fix my financial situation, I will believe. If you will help me pass this test, I will believe. If you will get me out of this jam, I will believe. Jesus is not our puppet. He is the Son of God and we have the order of things backwards. He doesn’t have to perform for us for us to believe in Him. He will be the Son of God regardless of whether we believe in Him or not. He is what He is and we should conform to Him and not Him to us. We should not be clamoring for signs to make Him real as the Son of God. We must accept that He is. We must also accept that we make our own mistakes and it is not Jesus’ responsibility to perform miracles out the mess that we have created ourselves. We must first realize that the reason we are clamoring for signs is that we do not want to change how we live. We want signs so that we can have more time to live our own way. I will believe in Jesus when I get older after I have sewed my wild oats. I will believe in Jesus after I achieve my career goals. I have plenty of time. I want more time. But do you? What is it that you are waiting for? Signs? You know that Jesus is who He says He is but you are really clinging to the false conception that your life is over when you submit to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Quite the opposite is true. When we give up our pride and humble ourselves before the Lord and ask Jesus to be our Savior and Ruler of our lives, we get a priority reset. The things that seemed so important to us before Christ are no longer our priorities. We begin to see life through the lens of Jesus Christ. We begin to see life as thanksgiving for Jesus having stood in our place for the punishment we deserved. We deserve hell and it is only when we accept Christ as our Savior that we realize how close we have come to being there. In Christ, we have forgiveness. In Christ, we have new life. We find that all the things that we thought were important were simply false gods. How much time do you need? How many signs will you demand? Are you going to wait until it is too late?

Then, there are those who refuse to believe in Jesus Christ altogether. These are the people that believe that if they simply do more good than bad that they will make it to some nirvana afterlife. We all believe in an afterlife of some sort. We are wired that way by God. He wired us to believe that there is something more after the end of our physical existence. There are very few humans throughout history that believe that this is it. That this life is all there is and we cease existence at the end of it. We refuse to believe even though God gives us ample evidence of His existence. The intricacies of just our little planet in a vast universe are simply astounding. The ecosystem of our planet is so intricate and so interdependent that to think that there was not an Intelligent Designer is simply ignoring the big picture. We simply choose to ignore the evidence. If you can’t touch, feel, or taste it, it does not exist. Evidence of God is all around us. If we admit God exists, then it means that there is a higher power to which we are accountable. If we admit God exists, then, we have to give credence to Jesus Christ. We can demonstrate to you that Jesus did exist. We have extrabiblical sources to verify it. We have 20 centuries of believers that He did exist. That the Jesus story has persisted through the millennia gives credence to its truth. A lie would not have persisted. People would not have died for a lie. There is evidence around us that God does exist and there is evidence of miraculously changed lives in those people who have accepted Christ as their Savior. Are you willing to bet your eternity on the fact that God does not exist? Are you willing to bet your eternity that Jesus is not the Son of God? Are you willing to bet your eternity that He is the one and only way to be reconciled to the Father in heaven? As the Scripture today says, if we clean our house and try to be a good person without having filled that life with Jesus Christ, you are open to Satan’s song. He will tell you that either all of this “religious stuff” is just an opiate of the simple mind or He will tell you that all roads lead to heaven. Satan will tell us that as long as you do more good than bad that you can earn your way to heaven. Satan will tell us that it does not matter what you believe, all roads lead to heaven. Satan will tell us that hell does not exist. We leave ourselves open to Satan’s siren song that there are no moral absolutes. What is right for me is good? What is right for you is good? Even if those two rights are opposed to each other. Satan’s pull is strong. He is not the horned, red guy with a cape. He is beautiful and slick and makes logical arguments to those who leave themselves open to him. This is the world we mostly live in today. Satan makes a strong case that we leave ourselves open to believe in. We believe in his lies. It is easier to believe that anything goes than to believe that there is judgment coming. Jesus wept over Jerusalem because He knew that their lack of belief would result in its destruction. Jesus weeps over us for our lack of understanding of who He is. How much evidence does the world need to see that Jesus is real? How much evidence does the world need that Jesus did exist and that He was who He said He was? How many changed lives does it take? Do we stop and write these people off? No. We must continue to preach like Jonah in Ninevah. It may disgust us that we are called to preach people that thumb their nose at God but we have been commanded to make disciples. No one said this would be easy. He will call us out of our comfort zone to witness to a world that believes in the wrong things. We must weep over their destiny just as Jesus wept over Jerusalem. We must be concerned about the truth of their destiny even if they are blindly and willingly driving themselves off the eternal cliff.

May we be the generation who awakens the souls of the lost. May we be the Jonahs that awakened the nation to repentance. May we teach the world of the reality of Jesus. May we never, ever give up on he world. Eternity is at stake! Amen and amen.

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