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Journey Through Matthew: The Sign of Jonah

Journey Through Matthew  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Even though both Jonah and Solomon had much less authority that Jesus, the Ninevites and Queen of Sheeba both listened to what these men of God had to say and responded to God's call, particularly the call of the Ninevites to repent. However, Jesus' generation had the Son of God with them, yet they rejected his message and rejected the call to repentance. For them, they are without excuse, as we also are without excuse.

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Introduction

Good morning and welcome back.
Well, I may have been a little too ambitious last Sunday trying to finish out chapter 12.
Needless to say, it didn’t happen so this morning, if you will turn back in your Bibles to .
This morning we are going to be looking at verses 38-50, and we are going to be looking at three different topics that Jesus is covering.
First, he is going to be talking about the “Sign of Jonah” and repentance.
Second his is going to be talking about the “unclean man” and deliverance.
And third he is going to be talking about family and dedication.
And if time allows we are going to try to get to all three this morning.
And if we don’t then, we will just finish up tonight.
But, if you were here last Sunday night, you may recall that we talked at length on what I called the “Hodgepodge of Truth.”
And I called it that because it seemed as if Jesus was really throwing everything at the Jews.
You got the sense that he was pretty much fed up with their behavior and their attitudes and he was calling them out on it once and for all.
They had already began to plot to kill him and instead of backing down, Jesus actually began to double-down on them.
And if you remember, before we quit Sunday night, Jesus had called them a bunch of snakes with evil hearts.
And pretty much told them that they were not really fooling anyone, that their true nature would eventually be revealed.
Which further angered the Pharisees.
But, even though they were angry, they really had nothing to come back with and nothing they could accuse Jesus of, so they fall back on the same old arguments.
Which is exactly where we are going this morning.
So, as I mentioned we are going to be reading verses 38-50 this morning from chapter 12.
Stand with me if you are able.
Matthew writes . . .

Scripture Focus

Matthew 12:38–50 NIV - Anglicised
38 Then some of the Pharisees and teachers of the law said to him, “Teacher, we want to see a miraculous sign from you.” 39 He answered, “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a miraculous sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40 For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. 41 The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now one greater than Jonah is here. 42 The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon’s wisdom, and now one greater than Solomon is here. 43 “When an evil spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. 44 Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. 45 Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that man is worse than the first. That is how it will be with this wicked generation.” 46 While Jesus was still talking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, wanting to speak to him. 47 Someone told him, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.” 48 He replied to him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” 49 Pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. 50 For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”

Repentance (vs 38-42)

So, in this first section we find the Pharisees right back at their old tricks.
Jesus had already performed countless miracles in front of them.
And for every miracle Jesus performed, they came back with some sort of excuse as to why it wasn’t “good enough.”
Now, I am sure that the people who the miracle was performed on, thought that they were just fine, but the Pharisees did not.
It was always something with them.
And right after Jesus heals this man with the shriveled hand and calls them out, they come right back at him . . .
Matthew 12:38 NIV - Anglicised
38 Then some of the Pharisees and teachers of the law said to him, “Teacher, we want to see a miraculous sign from you.”
I mean, really?
What did they just witness happen?
What had they been witnessing all along?
Were these not miracles?
In their eyes, these things Jesus was doing was just not good enough.
See, Jesus wasn’t healing the Pharisees and the Sadducees, the leaders, the ones who were important.
Jesus was healing the everyday ordinary people.
People like you and me.
And since the religious people’s opinion of the everyday ordinary people was that the everyday people were below them.
Many just one step above dogs, then the miracles Jesus was performing was just not “good enough.”
They were not cutting the mustard because they were not glorifying the religious elite.
And after all 10,000 angels hadn’t come down yet and wiped out the Roman Empire.
A castle hadn’t magically appeared from the ground with Jesus sitting on a throne inside of it.
No, Jesus was just casting out demons, restoring people’s site, giving people the ability to talk, walk, and live their lives back.
Just those ordinary, everyday miracles.
So, that’s why they tell him, teacher we want to see a miraculous sign from you, one that lives up to our standards, one that makes us look good.
And I think in the back of their minds, they know Jesus isn’t going to do it but they felt like by the putting it out there they could show Jesus up for once.
But again Jesus wasn’t having nothing of it.
Matthew 12:39 NIV - Anglicised
39 He answered, “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a miraculous sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.
Matthew 12:39-
And Jesus’ point here is that only people who do not really believe have to have signs and miracles.
Only people who have no faith have to be shown every single thing.
Hebrews 11:1 NIV - Anglicised
1 Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.
We are called to be people of faith and not people of signs and wonders.
Basing our beliefs simply on what we see and witness.
We place our faith in God, simply because we know what God says is true.
We accept Jesus for who Jesus is, nothing more-nothing less.
But sadly even today we have a lot of people who’s faith is so shallow that if there are not all kinds of signs and wonders going on around them they move on to something else.
Honestly, if we want to see a sign and wonder all we have to do is think just for a minute how the human body is put together and how it operates in unison.
How did that happen?
Look outside at the balance of nature and how the universe is put together.
How did that happen?
The fact is, we have all the proof, all the signs, all the wonders we need.
The problem is, we are give a choice as to whether we believe or do not believe.
It is clear as day and the choice is ours to make.
But Jesus tells them, “look the only sign you are going to get is the sign of Jonah,” and he explains to them . . .
Matthew 12:40–41 NIV - Anglicised
40 For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. 41 The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now one greater than Jonah is here.
Matthew 12:
So, the first part of Jesus’ explanation was a comparison between himself and Jonah being in the belly of the fish.
Jonah suffered for three days inside the fish for his own sins.
Jesus would suffer for three days in the belly of the earth, not for his sins-because he had none, but for our sins.
However, when Jonah did emerge from the belly of the fish, he emerged with a message.
That message was to repent for the judgment of God is coming.
And, Jesus’ entire message on earth was repent for the kingdom of God is at hand.
And when Jesus emerged from the tomb, irrefutable proof that Jesus is the Messiah, the source of hope and salvation was provided.
Jonah was a messenger.
His message came from the source.
Jesus gave the same message, the only difference was Jesus IS the source.
And when the message is delivered, we then have a choice to make.
Will we accept the message and repent, or will we reject the message and burn?
The Ninevites listened to the message and they repented.
The Pharisees, rejected the message and Jesus concluded that the men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgement with this generation and condemn it.
The reason being, the Ninevites were hearing the message from someone far less superior than Jesus, but yet they believed.
The Jews were hearing the message from Jesus himself.
And then Jesus gives them one more example . . .
Matthew 12:42 NIV - Anglicised
42 The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon’s wisdom, and now one greater than Solomon is here.
Same concept, Solomon was much less superior than Jesus, but even the Queen of Sheeba came and listened to what he had to say about God.
But these people refused to hear it from Jesus himself.
And here today, I am far less superior than even Jonah or Solomon, but the message is the same, repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
The question is will you listen and be saved?
Or, will you rejected it and be condemned?

Deliverance (vs 43-45)

And some will say, “that’s too hard, we can’t do it.”
“We’ve tried before, but we always come back to the same things.”
Well, Jesus next explains what is going on with that.
Matthew writes . . .
Matthew 12:43–45 NIV - Anglicised
43 “When an evil spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. 44 Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. 45 Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that man is worse than the first. That is how it will be with this wicked generation.”
And what Jesus is getting to here, is the lack of true transformation that was taking place.
See, a lot of these people who were following Jesus were following him looking for the next sign, the next miracle.
Jesus would say repent, they would feel guilty, tell God they were sorry and try to do good.
The problem is, they never turned their life over to God.
They never allowed the Holy Spirit full and unrestricted access to their soul.
They always held something back.
Always held on to something.
And what Jesus is saying is, “you gained a little victory, by driving the thief out of your home, but you never installed any locks or security system.”
Well, the thief wandered around for a while, looking for another home to break into, but all of them had security (that is the Holy Spirit by the way).
So, the thief decides, “I’ll go back and see what’s going on at ______, house.”
And on the way the thief finds seven other thieves in the same boat he’s in and they form a gang.
And they show back up at your house and they find no locks on the door, on security system, no safeguards at all.
Now, you’ve put things in order the best you could and cleaned up the outside so the neighbors think you’ve got things all together, but there’s nothing to keep the thief out.
And he comes right on in with his 7 buddies and they completely wreck the place.
And no matter how hard you try to get rid of them yourself, you cannot because they are more powerful than you are.
But, they are not more powerful than God.
They are not more powerful than the Holy Spirit.
And if you really want victory and deliverance, then you’ve got to let the Holy Spirit in.
You’ve got to let the Holy Spirit have full and unrestricted access to the very depths of your soul.
No matter what the Spirit will find.
There’s no sense being afraid or embarrassed because God already knows anyway.
Just let the Spirit take control of it.
That’s all Jesus is asking.
But again, it comes back to our being willing to allow that to happen.

Dedication (vs 46-50)

But sometimes though, a conflict from outside will arise.
In the process of cleaning, God may call you to do something.
Or God may call you to confront someone in your family that is influencing you in a bad way.
And you may think, “I can’t do that, this is my family, I love them.”
Or, “they will be offended.”
Or, if it is some sort of work for God, “I can’t do that, I have all of these family obligations!”
Well, Jesus addresses that as well . . .
Matthew 12:46–50 NIV - Anglicised
46 While Jesus was still talking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, wanting to speak to him. 47 Someone told him, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.” 48 He replied to him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” 49 Pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. 50 For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”
And Jesus wasn’t being mean or cruel.
Jesus wasn’t saying “don’t love your family.”
Jesus is saying, God comes first in all things.
In all things we must put God first.
We tend to get it a bit backwards and put family first, because we love our family.
But God has to come first.
And if we do that, we soon realize that there will not be as big a conflict as we thought.
Because we honestly can’t love or care for anyone else, including our family, until we first learn to love God with all our heart, mind, and soul.
Sure we may love them, but that love will be incomplete and inconsistent.
We learn to love God first and that teaches us the right way to love others.

Altar Call

But again, just like everything else, it is all about choice.
We are free creatures and and the freedom to choose all things.
There are always choices to be made, the question is what will our choice be this morning?
The altar is here, the time is now, what choice will you make this morning?
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