A Focus on Jesus (Matt 12:38)
- Luke starts his account by pointing out that the crowds were getting bigger.
- Matt is writing to a Jewish audience, so he points out that the crowd was made up of Pharisees law teachers.
- Matt ends with a demand from the Pharisees and teachers of the law. They want to see a sign!
- The Greek word used here is a word associated with a miraculous type of sign.
- The term teacher they use here is respectful but shows that they don’t buy into Jesus’ claims of divinity.
- They use this term in front of the crowds because they don’t want to suggest to the crowd that Jesus is something more than an itinerate teacher.
- The way their demand for a sign is structured and the word they used reflects back the to the exodus.
- The Pharisees were of course strong followers of Moses and they wanted to see the kind of signs that Moses did. The way they say it, it could be understood as. “Do something like Moses did.”
Verse 39 Jesus turns their own demand for a sign against them and also looks back toward the days of Moses and the Exodus. Similar language to what God used against the people during the days of the Exodus.
- The term adulterous is of course referring to their spiritual unfaithfulness.
- Jesus makes it clear that no sign will be given and then alludes to Jonah.
- In the phrase “none will be given” Jesus uses an unusual grammatical structure here called a Divine passive.
- Which means he is speaking on behalf of God.
- First Characteristic: He will not do signs and wonders on demand or to bring attention to Himself.
- I think this passage speaks to the ease of distraction. The Pharisees were distracted.
Verse 40 Jesus jumps from Moses and the Exodus to Jonah.
- In the Jewish tradition of the day, the focus of the Jewish people was on the deliverance of Jonah from the whale. The Pharisees downplayed the preaching of Jonah and the repentance of the people of Nineveh.
- And focused on the miraculous escape from the whale.
- This is why Jesus switches from Moses to the story of Jonah.
- Jesus is trying to bring attention to his coming death and resurrection
- Jonah preaching repentance and then being in the whale for three days is a prototype of Jesus.
- The statement “three nights in the heart of the earth.” Refers to the grave and not hades.
- Second characteristic: He will always point to His death and resurrection as the most important thing for His followers to focus on.
Verse 41 Jesus suggests here that he people of Nineveh will be resurrected and stand in judgement over his current audience.
- They after all repented at just the preaching of the word by Jonah, where this current audience demands a sign even after all that Jesus has already done.
- So, the people of Jonah’s day had more faith.
- The Pharisees believed in an afterlife.
- The Sadducees did not believe in a resurrection or an afterlife.
- The suggestion the people of Jonah’s day would be resurrected to judge them would have really annoyed the pharisee.
Verse 42 The queen of the south mentioned here is the queen of Sheba who appears in 1 Kings 10:1-29 and 2 Chron 9:1-12 and traveled a great distance to hear the wisdom of king Solomon.
- There is also Irony here. Both the men of Nineveh and the queen of Sheba were Gentiles who responded to God’s messengers. Whereas His current audience of Jewish leaders is failing to see Jesus for who he really is.
- Both the people of Nineveh and the Queen of Sheba saw no signs, they believed and repented based on hearing the words of Jonah and Solomon. And Jesus commends them for it.
- Third characteristic: Jesus expects faith based on more than just seeing.