By Ray Luck
Pastor, Oak Grove Baptist Church, Athens
Focal Passage: Matthew 12:38-42, NKJV
Lucy, Linus, and Charlie Brown were lying on a hill looking at the clouds. Lucy asked Linus what he saw in the clouds to which he replied, “I see what looks like Honduras and that one is the profile of a famous painter and sculptor and that group makes me think of the stoning of Stephen with the Apostle Paul standing nearby.” Lucy then asks Charlie Brown who replied, “Well I was going to say I saw a ducky and horsie, but I changed my mind.”
When I was young, and even now, I like to look at cloud formations to see if they remind me of anything. Some people look at clouds or other things and try to glean a message or a sign from the Almighty.
While Jesus was on the earth teaching, healing, and performing miracles the religious leaders followed Him around watching His every move, hoping that He would do something with which they could entrap Him. The account found here in Matthew is also found in Luke 11:29-32. Mark 8:11-12 is a similar account. In that passage Jesus said to the religious leaders (verse 12), “But He sighed deeply in His spirit, and said, ‘Why does this generation seek a sign? Assuredly, I say to you, no sign shall be given to this generation.’ ”
As I read that verse I feel as if Jesus stood there stunned at them asking for a sign. He had traveled all over Judah teaching, healing, and performing miracles. They had traveled with Him, they had seen all that He did, and heard all that He said and yet they ask for a sign? To me this evokes sadness — that they would even ask such a question. To use a modern expression Jesus might have asked, “Are you nuts?”
As I read through the five verses making up our text I think of the many people today who hunger for a supernatural sign from God, yet reject the Word of God which is His gift and sign to us. Around the world there are statues and shrines, erected by people, depicting events that have occurred signifying to them a sign, a miracle sent by God. Whole religions and belief systems have developed around those statues and shrines.
What the religious leaders of Jesus’ day wanted was for Jesus to do some extraordinary feat which they could add to their religious belief system. As I said earlier Jesus was dumbfounded at their request given all the things He had done that gave proof as to who He was. He answers them by referring to Jonah who was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish. He used this to refer to His future resurrection after being in the grave three days and three nights. He said the men of Nineveh will rise up in judgment because they believed and repented. A greater one than Jonah was now in their midst and they refused to believe. The queen of the South came a great distance to hear the wisdom of Solomon, yet though one greater than Solomon was in their midst, they refused to believe.
I fear today people are still looking for signs. Look no further than Jesus for He is the true Son of God, Savior of the world, and Lord of Lords!
No other sign needed — none!