A wicked and adulterous generation (Matt 12:38-42)
- In Luke 11:29 it says… As the crowds increased, Jesus said, “This is a wicked generation. It asks for a sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah.
- Luke is pointing out that the crowds were getting bigger.
Verse 38 Because Matt is writing to a Jewish audience, he points out that the crowd was made up of Pharisees and teachers of the law.
- The Pharisees and teachers of the Law were no doubt upset that the crowd following Jesus were getting bigger.
- But the verse here in Matt ends with a demand, They want to see a sign!
- The term “teacher” they use here is respectful but shows that they don’t buy into Jesus’ claims of divinity.
- 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.
Verse 39 Just like their demand for a sign looked back toward the acts of Moses.
- This accusation of Jesus that they were a “wicked and adulterous generation,” is a nod back to the days of the exodus. They wandered in the wilderness for 40 years because they lacked faith and were adulterous.
- So here Jesus generalizes and lumps these leaders demanding a sign in with the people and leaders of the Exodus.
- “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign!”
- The word asks used here could be translated as “seeks”
- The word and the way Jesus uses it is intensified and in an ongoing verb form.
- It could be seen as “They are continually demanding from God.”
- Jesus uses an unusual grammatical structure here called a Divine passive. Which means he is speaking on behalf of God.
Verse 40 In Jewish tradition of the day, the focus of the Jewish people was on the deliverance of Jonah from the whale. This is Jesus’ way of bringing attention to his coming resurrection.
- Of course, 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.
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.
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.