Monday, June 06, 2011

Matthew 12:38-45


In Matthew 12, Jesus confronts the Pharisees who couldn't believe that Jesus was the Messiah. This entire chapter describes the mounting hatred that the religious leaders had against Jesus. These Pharisees were hard-hearted legalists who thought that Jesus was a Satanic Sabbath-breaker. Jesus is saying some very hard things to these people. Several weeks ago we studied the text where Jesus called the Pharisees an evil "brood of vipers" (verse 34). In today's text, Jesus calls them "an evil and adulterous generation" (verse 39). Some would say that Jesus wasn't being too Christ-like in His response to these people. Jesus was hard with them, because hard hearts need hard truth.

Jesus reserved His hardest words for those who had been exposed to the most evidence and yet had refused to believe in Him. Jesus was gentle, loving, and kind towards those people who knew little of God's truth such as the sinning tax-collector or harlots. These people loved Jesus for His compassion. But Jesus dealt very harshly with the Pharisees who knew much but remained unrepentant. The worst of all these was Judas of whom Jesus spoke very condemningly. Judas had walked with Jesus and ate with Jesus and learned one-on-one from Jesus. But Jesus said, "It would have been good for that man if he had not been born" (Matt. 26:24). Why? Because despite all the light that Judas experienced, he ultimately ended in unbelief and betrayal.

This is all about unbelief! NOTE the various dimensions of unbelief. 38 Then some of the scribes and Pharisees said to Him, ``Teacher, we want to see a sign from You.'' 39 But He answered and said to them, ``An evil and adulterous generation craves for a sign; 1. UNBELIEF ALWAYS WANTS MORE PROOF. This kind of unbelief is certainly prevalent today!

and yet no sign will be given to it but the sign of Jonah the prophet; 40 for just as JONAH WAS THREE DAYS AND THREE NIGHTS IN THE BELLY OF THE SEA MONSTER, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. 2. UNBELIEF TENDS TO NEGLECT REAL PROOF.

41 ``The men of Nineveh will stand up with this generation at the judgment and will condemn it because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and behold, something greater than Jonah is here. 42 ``The Queen of the South will rise up with this generation at the judgment and will condemn it, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and behold, something greater than Solomon is here. 3. UNBELIEF ALWAYS HAS ADDITIONAL TESTIMONY THAT WILL VERIFY. Jesus brings up two historical events-Jonah's preaching to the Ninevites and the Queen of Sheba's visit to Solomon. They will give condemning testimony in the last day.

43 ``Now when the unclean spirit goes out of a man, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and does not find it. 44 ``Then it says, `I will return to my house from which I came'; and when it comes, it finds it unoccupied, swept, and put in order. 45 ``Then it goes and takes along with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first. That is the way it will also be with this evil generation.'' 4. UNBELIEF LEFT UNCHECKED WILL MULTIPLY. Even those who heard John's teaching and accepted it somewhat didn't embrace it for themselves and receive this teaching into their heart of belief. And because they did not genuinely receive the truth by faith, they become vulnerable for a multiple of unclean spirits to fill up the void that is left by UNBELIEF.

NOTE that Jesus isn't concerned about "church" or "synagogue" membership or participation in a religious program or organization, but His primary concern is all about faith. He wants you to be interested and follow that interest with personal faith. Personal faith has 3 dimensions:

1-Knowledge of the facts. 2-Agreement with the truth about those facts. 3-Personal trust in that knowledge and agreement. It's the personal trust that makes all the difference.