by Mike Raiter

Day 28

Read Matthew 12:38-50

How often has someone said, ″I would believe in God if He would just give me a sign″? Sometimes this can be a genuine request, and sometimes God graciously answers the prayer. However, there is nothing genuine about the request of the scribes and Pharisees for a sign from Jesus. They have already seen many miracles by Jesus (Matthew 11:20-23). What more do they need? Besides, Jesus has just made it clear that they have already made up their minds about Him (Matthew 12:22-32), and more displays of His divine power would not make any difference.

Those who obey the Lord are more than just His disciples; they are His brothers and sisters. What an unspeakable privilege!

Echoing the earlier preaching of John the Baptist (Matthew 3:1-12), Jesus condemns not just the leaders of the Jews but the Jewish people themselves as a ″wicked and adulterous generation″ (v. 39). He will one day give them a sign, the greatest sign of all: His resurrection from the dead. Jesus calls this ″the sign of the prophet Jonah″-not just because Jonah spent three days in ″the heart of the earth″, but because it was pagans who responded to his preaching, just like the pagan Queen of Sheba recognised in Solomon divine wisdom (vv. 39-42; see 1 Kings 10:1-9). After Jesus' resurrection, Gentiles will again respond to the gospel of the risen Christ. Yet, as a nation under their religious authorities, the wilfully blind Jews refuse to recognise the One in their midst who is greater than either Jonah or Solomon.

The next short parable (vv. 43-45) warns of the danger of not responding to Jesus. There is no neutral position. To have heard the gospel and seen evidence of God's power in people's lives (like the Jews of Jesus' day), and yet not respond with wholehearted commitment, is to leave yourself in a worse spiritual condition than before.

What, then, is the right response to Jesus? Our Lord repeats what He said at the end of the Sermon on the Mount: it is to do the will of the Father (v. 50; cf. Matthew 7:24). Those who obey the Lord are more than just His disciples; they are His brothers and sisters. What an unspeakable privilege! Jesus isn't demeaning His earthly family; He is exalting His disciples. The holy transcendent God is our heavenly Father, and the awesome, divine Lord of heaven and earth is more intimately related to us than even our earthly family.

Think through:

When people ask God for a sign, what do you think they are looking for? Is it ever right to ask for a sign? When do you think it is wrong?

″God only has children, not grandchildren.″ In the light of what Jesus says here about His family, what does that popular saying mean? How can you be sure that you have a relationship with the Lord Jesus?




About Author

Mike Raiter is a preacher, preaching trainer and former Principal of the Melbourne School of Theology in Australia. He is now Director of the Centre for Biblical Preaching and the author of a number of books, including Stirrings of the Soul, which won the 2004 Australian Christian Book of the Year award.

Author of Journey Through Series:

Our Daily Bread Journey Through® Series is a publication of Our Daily Bread Ministries.

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