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Try it for 30 days FREE. Cancel at any time. You must be logged in to view your newly purchased content. Please log in below or if you don't have an account, creating one is easy and only takes a few moments. After you log in your content will be available in your library. There are two historical stories that have to be re-thought: People are familiar with those stories, but here we have to see exactly how Jesus was using them to make His point.
The point of the passage focuses on unbelief and belief, unbelief by these Jews, and belief by those Gentiles.
The final illustration using one evil spirit and then seven evil spirits probably was intended to pick up the earlier motif of casting out demons. They had accused Him of doing it by the power of Satan. The theology of the passage is the clear announcement of judgment on those who do not believe the word of the Lord and receive Jesus as their King. If we turn this around to state it positively, we would say that the passage is teaching the necessity of belief in Jesus as the Messiah. The idea is not that one needs a lot of information in order to believe; rather, the response of faith to the amount of revelation given will determine acceptance with God.
Without faith it is impossible to please God; and so when He sends His word, He expects people to trust Him. Now, if we work through the passage with this theology in mind we will see how the argument unfolds. One of our tasks in Bible Study is to uncover the unity in the passage, even if there are seemingly diverse sections. The parts all fit together in some way. Some passages are obvious units--no difficulty in seeing it; but some, like this one, have several different sections that do not at first glance seem to work together. With the basic theme in the chapter in mind which we might re-state somewhat after working through the passage and seeing what exact emphases are present in the section we can study section by section and see how the interpretation works out.
But for the most part, in passages like this where we have a strange and mysterious story at the end, the flow of the passage will be most helpful. If someone studied only the last story illustration without fitting it into the context, there is no telling what interpretation might be given to it. Those who do not believe in Jesus call for a miraculous sign The Pharisees and teachers basically demanded a sign from Jesus. What were they looking for in a sign, and why would Jesus not give them one? Well, this calls for a word study on signs. A good word study book or full commentary on the text will help you to understand that they were looking for some amazing event or miracle that would convince them that He was Messiah.
Of course, He had been doing miracles right and left--but they seemed to want some other big thing that would be irrefutable. But Jesus would not give one to them because they had already rejected Him out of unbelief. A sign in the Bible is some event or activity, supernatural or not, that would authenticate the person and claims of Jesus. A sign was usually a miracle with a clear meaning; it was a miracle designed to reveal something specific. However, in the Bible there are two ways that signs are used, to convince and to confirm. For example, when Moses was sent back to the Israelites to lead them out of bondage, he was given some signs to do--his staff turning to a snake, his hand turning leprous, and the water turning to blood.
These were done in order to convince the people that they should believe Moses and follow him. But Moses was given another sign--when he and the people returned to Mount Sinai after the exodus they would worship at the mountain. That was a sign that would confirm that God had done it, but it was not a sign to convince them to go to the mountain to worship.
Once they got there they would be assured that God had done just as He had promised. These Pharisees and teachers clearly wanted the former type, a sign to convince them to believe.
The Sign of Jonah
But they were dishonest and Jesus saw right through them. They had just seen a spectacular sign, the casting out of the demon so that the man regained his abilities, and instead of believing they accused Him of doing it by Beelzebub. They were not interested in a sign, only in trying to discredit Jesus. If He could not do a sign for them, they could expose Him; if He did one, they could discredit Him.
They were an evil lot. They despised Him and were determined not to listen to His teachings. Moreover, wanting a sign runs contrary to the nature of faith, which does not rely on a sign to convince people to believe.
Matthew ,Mark ISV - The Sign of Jonah - Then some of the - Bible Gateway
And if Jesus did a sign like that, it is unlikely that these people would have believed. They were merely challenging Jesus, and if He did a sign they would likely have rejected it. After all, they had frequently explained away some of the great miracles He had been performing. We should digress for a moment because there are places in the Bible where it seems appropriate to seek a sign from God.
We have already seen how God gave Moses signs to do to authenticate His plan. The people needed to be sure that this man off the desert was truly sent by God. When they saw the signs, that was enough--they accepted him as their leader.
It was not a question of coming to faith in God, but rather of testing the authenticity of a man who wanted to lead them out of bondage. The king refused, being a wicked unbeliever. So God gave a sign anyway: The supernatural birth of Jesus would be a sign that the Davidic Covenant would still be fulfilled. The point in Isaiah 7: So asking a sign in faith is different than challenging God to convince us to believe. Or, Gideon put out the fleece for a sign that God would go with him to battle.
The text never condemns Gideon for this, because he was a devout believer, but more importantly, he had already decided to go, and what he wanted was a sign that God would be with him. So again faith was already operative. Jesus refuses to give His opponents a sign and instead warns them of judgment to come But the response can be subdivided into several points: He rebukes the people for their unbelief 39, In His response Jesus simply identified these folks as a wicked and adulterous generation.
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No sign would be given to them--not the kind they wanted anyway. So the next thing you will have to sort out why their request for a sign made them a wicked and adulterous generation. In looking into the biblical usage of this language you will eventually connect with the Book of Hosea. That book was written to a generation of Israelites in the 8 th century B. That does not mean that they simply did not measure up to His standards; rather, it means that they deliberately chose to reject the LORD and go after other religious forms, usually false gods.
Hosea described the covenant of the LORD in terms of a marriage; to break the covenant with God was to be unfaithful to the covenant, especially if they followed other gods instead of God. The principle is that people who should be believers they had the Scriptures, the temple, the priests, the prophets and who rejected the prophets and the Messiah were unfaithful to God , as one would be unfaithful to a marriage. Jesus describes these people in the same terms that Hosea used because they refused to believe in Him and chose rather to follow their own religious ideas.
By doing so they were proving to be unfaithful to God and His covenant program.
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They were spiritual adulterers. So His point is that a wilful and rebellious people do not really believe, but they do demand a spectacular sign. They have made up their minds about Jesus, and it would take something really big to change their minds. Their refusal to believe made them an adulterous generation, like their ancestors who killed the prophets.
THE SIGN OF JONAH
But a sign would be given to them later, albeit a confirming sign. Jesus was telling them that they would have one more opportunity to be convinced--the sign of His resurrection would prove who He is and what His death was all about. They had rejected every other sign that Jesus had given them, so there was one more, but they would have to wait for it. This was the sign of Jonah.
Just as Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights, so the Messiah would be in the grave three days and three nights before rising from the dead Jonah was not dead, but was as good as dead if God had not intervened. This sign--the death and resurrection--would confirm that Jesus indeed is the Messiah, the Son of God. That is truly a miraculous sign. However, it would come later for these opponents of Jesus, for they were the ones who were plotting to kill Him.
And they would succeed they would think in their opposition to Jesus by seeing Him crucified. They would be guilty of His death. But it was an opportunity that would come later; they might then believe. However, Peter points out that they are in a dilemma because they just killed the Lord who could save them. So the sign, the evidence, that these people wanted concerning Jesus would come with His resurrection, giving them far more to be guilty of than they now had. One additional explanation is important here. Any part of a day and of a night was considered a day and a night. The same is true for reckoning years.
For example, if a king came to the throne in the tenth month of the year and died in the sixth month of the next year, He would have reigned for two years. Jesus announces the certainty of judgment on His opponents 41 , The mention of Jonah brings the story of Jonah to mind, and so Jesus makes a point of the heart of that account. If you are not familiar with the story of Jonah, you need to read it through--it is only 44 verses long. The people of Israel were both affluent and indifferent to the call of God on their lives to be a light to the nation.
So God called the reluctant prophet to go and preach to the hated enemies of Israel, the Assyrians who lived in Nineveh modern Iraq--so you can see the kind of tension Jonah had about this. But the point of the story is that those people repented at the preaching of Jonah, and God spared that generation the judgment. Well, it will be God who condemns unbelieving sinners — so what does this line mean?
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