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

39 He answered, “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a miraculous 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 one 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 one greater than Solomon is here.”

Matt 12:38-42 (NIV)

Our passage for today reminds me of our Lord’s lament found later in Matthew where He longed over Jerusalem’s – which represented the entire nation - willing refusal to turn to Him. Their time of opportunity had passed. They were responsible to make a choice – as we all are – and their choice brought them condemnation. This grieved His holy soul. When one gazes into God’s heart of love for mankind it will transform forever. Condemnation and consequences are not His idea of a good time:

37 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing. 38 Look, your house is left to you desolate.” Matt 23:37-38 (NIV)

“God loves you as though you are the only person in the world, and He loves everyone the way He loves you.” Augustine

Jesus had just miraculously healed a demon possessed blind mute yet these feigned religious characters desired more still. Their request implying they rejected the many signs already given them. They demanded more proof. Jesus did not come to be a circus act nor did He arrive to amuse audiences or cater to their every whim. Our Lord did not gratify corrupt lusts and humors. He knew their hearts and no amount of the miraculous would have changed them. None are as incurably blind as those who staunchly refuse to see. They were a generation unwilling to be reformed. Signs were not necessary for faith though He did them to point to the reality of His Words.

The generation He addressed in these verses had had an unusual privilege afforded to them which no previous generation had been allowed yet they remained firmly unbelieving. On the other hand, those in Nineveh prevented their ruin, Jesus states – under the witnessing of the Prophet Jonah - as pitiful as his message appeared to be – they repented. Indeed, God gave Jonah only eight simple words of warning to get the people of Nineveh to turn:

He proclaimed: "Forty more days and Nineveh will be overturned." Jonah 3:4 (NIV)

Does not sound too wooing does it? Seriously, this was a dead culture yet turn they did. From the king all the way to the least in the kingdom they fasted and prayed and covered themselves with sackcloth. They humbled themselves and turned from their evil ways and their violence and God was merciful and relented calamity. Sort of sounds like Abraham, who believed God and God credited his belief as righteousness:

23 And the scripture was fulfilled that says, "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness," and he was called God's friend. James 2:23 (NIV)

This is why Paul is so adamant about us not missing our time of opportunity when the gospel is presented. There is no present like the Present. He writes in 2 Corinthians:

1 As God's fellow workers we urge you not to receive God's grace in vain. 2 For he says, "In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you." I tell you, now is the time of God's favor, now is the day of salvation. 2 Cor 6:1-2 (NIV)

The Ninevites shamed this generation (and ours) for not repenting while the Queen of Sheba for not believing. The Queen came from a far distance to hear the wisdom of King Solomon – a mere man - yet people refused to be persuaded to come and hear the wisdom of the Lord Jesus. She had had neither invitation nor promise that she would be welcomed yet they were invited by Christ to come and sit at His feet and hear His word – just as Mary did who was commended by Jesus in doing this:

38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, "Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!" 41 "Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her." Luke 10:38-42 (NIV)

“Luther was right: the root behind all other manifestations of sin is compulsive unbelief—our voluntary darkness concerning God, ourselves, his relationship to the fallen world and his redemption purpose... If the fall occurred through embracing lies, the recovery process of salvation must center on faith in truth, reversing this condition.” Richard Lovelace

What I Glean

  • God loves me.
  • It is a frightening thing to reject the Truth of God’s Word.
  • My time of opportunity is now.