“The people of Nineveh will stand up against this generation on judgment day and condemn it, for they repented of their sins at the preaching of Jonah. Now someone greater than Jonah is here – but you refuse to repent.” – Matthew 12:41 NLT
“Show us a sign!”
“Do something miraculous that proves who you say you are!”
“We won’t believe in you until to convince us you are really from God.”
That’s the attitude of the religious leaders who confronted Jesus on a regular basis. The bottom line was that they refused to accept His claim to be the Messiah. They couldn’t bring themselves to believe He was the Son of God and the long-awaited Savior. Yet they had seen and heard about the many miracles Jesus had performed. There is not doubt that they had heard rumors about Him turning water into wine at the wedding in Cana early in His ministry. He had healed a man of leprosy. He had healed the servant of a Roman officer – long-distance – by just speaking a word. Early in the account of Matthew, he writes, “And he healed every kind of disease and illness. News about him spread as far as Syria, and people soon began bringing to him all who were sick. And whatever their sickness or disease, or if they were demon possessed or epileptic or paralyzed – he healed them all” (Matthew 4:23-24 NLT). Word got out. Crowds followed Him wherever He went. And in those crowds were the Pharisees. The truth is, these men didn’t try to discount the fact that Jesus had done all these things. No, instead, they wrote them off as having been done in the power of Satan. They accused Jesus of getting His power from the enemy, not from God. So it wasn’t that they refused to believe in His miracles. They refused to believe in who He said He was. So when they come asking for yet another sign or miracle to prove His authority to do the things He did, Jesus responded with words of warning.
He accused them of being an evil, adulterous generation. They were unfaithful to God. Here was the Son of God standing in their very presence, but they refused to believe in Him. They would ultimately reject Him and have Him crucified. Which is exactly what Jesus is talking about that the only sign they will receive that they might believe would be His own death and resurrection. But even that would not turn their hearts toward Him. The people of Nineveh, an evil Gentile nation, repented when they heard the words of the prophet Jonah. But the people of God, the Jews, would not repent even after hearing the words of the Son of God. The queen of Sheba was amazed at the wisdom of Solomon, but Jesus is far greater than Solomon and these men refused to hear a word He said.
They were masters at looking spiritual and living lives that appeared to be righteous. But their hearts were empty. They saw themselves as right before God’s eyes simply because they were descendants of Abraham and were members of God’s chosen people – the Jews. But Jesus informs them that their future was bleak because they were turning their backs on the very one who could transform their lives and make them right with God. Their attempts at “cleaning house” on their own and making themselves presentable to God were going to prove futile. They would end up worse off in the end. All because they refused to repent. All because they were unwilling to believe. And yet, today there are those who continue this tradition of rejection and refusal to believe. They just can’t seem to accept who Jesus claims to be. They have heard the message. They have even seen His miraculous work in the lives of friends and family members, but it is not enough. They need more proof. They require more evidence. When they are told about Jesus death, burial and resurrection, they write it off and label it as myth. It is too hard to comprehend. It makes no sense rationally or scientifically. But in the end, it is the only proof God is going to give. The resurrection of Christ is the only evidence they are going to receive. He is alive and at work in the lives of millions of people on the earth today. He is transforming lives daily. He is ministering constantly. And yet, in spite of all He is doing, millions continue to reject Him. But there are millions who are also turning to Him. The Gospel continues to spread. The message of salvation through Christ continues to be preached. And the mercy and grace of God through Jesus Christ continues to be freely offered to all who will receive it.
Father, we will always have those stubborn, hard-hearted individuals among us. But don’t let us lose faith or grow weary telling the message of Good News to all we see. Because You are still redeeming lives and restoring the lost to a relationship with You. We are the best advertisement of Your transforming power. May our lives reflect Your resurrection power and prove that Jesus Christ alive and well and at work in our lives today. Amen.
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men