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2007-04-08_Something Greater_Matthew 12.38-42_SL

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Something Greater

Matthew 12:38-42   |   Shaun LePage   |   Easter Sunday, April 8, 2007

I.       Introduction

A.    Kids Sermon: Signs—2 Questions: How is Jonah like a sign? What does this sign tell us?

B.    Hope I didn’t confuse them: “Jesus was swallowed by a whale?”

C.    SS teacher: “What is today?” Little girl: “Easter.” Teacher: “What happened?” Girl: “Jesus rose from the dead.” Teacher impressed. Girl: “If He sees his shadow, he has to go back in 7 weeks.”

D.    Matthew 1-10—Jesus presenting Himself to Israel as King. Chs 11-12 official rejection.

II.     Body—Matthew 12:38-50

A.    The Request: We want to see a sign. (38)

1.     “Teacher” Insincere? Probably (v.24). Sincere? Not good enough. C.S. Lewis: “He did not leave us that option”—neutrality is not an option (vs.8, 30, 40 “Son of Man”, etc.).

2.     “Sign” 16:1 asked again—“a sign from heaven”—something really big! | Similar to ch.4 when Satan tempted Jesus | Pharisees just said He cast out demons by Satan! Jesus’ response

B.    The Response: No sign but the sign of Jonah. (39-40)

1.     (39a) “An evil and adulterous generation”. Why is “craving for a sign” evil? Reveals willful unbelief. “Adulterous”=unfaithful. They had seen miracle after miracle—nothing would convince them. God does not cater to willful unbelief.

2.     (39b-40) “No sign but the sign of Jonah”. God would graciously grant the sign to end all signs.

a)     “Just as Jonah…” A true “type”—Jon 1:17f. Jonah “died” (“cried for help from the depth of Sheol”; “point of death”); grave: “belly of the sea monster”; resurrection: “the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah up onto the dry land.” Ninevites watching? | Notice Jesus treats Jonah as historical. Jonah mythical? Jesus / resurrection was mythical.

b)     What is the sign of Jonah? The death and resurrection of Christ. Jesus really died. God really raised Him from a literal grave. Jesus predicted His death and resurrection multiple times—listen to examples from Matthew alone: Here; 16:21; 17:9; 22-23; 20:19; 26:31-32.

c)     How do we explain “three days and three nights”? Jewish idiom for 3 days—part of Friday, all of Saturday and part of Sunday. Jewish Talmud—part of a day reckoned as entire day. Like “day and night”—can be literal, can be figurative.

C.    The Rebuke: (41-42)

1.     Judgment is coming for those who refuse to believe.

a)     “Men of Ninevah (Gentiles/enemies)…at the judgment”—witnesses at a trial.

b)     “Will condemn (that generation)”—why? “They repented at the preaching of Jonah”! Implication: This generation refuses to repent. Unwilling to turn from their sin of unbelief.

c)     “Something greater”=Messiah. God Himself—not just messenger. Didn’t run—came willingly. Came because of love—Jonah hated the Ninevites. Eternal life—not temporary.

2.     Judgment is coming for those who refuse to listen.

a)     “Queen of the South” (of Sheba; 1 Kings 10; 2 Chr 9; Gentile! Woman!)…at the judgment”—a witness at a trial. “Judgment” repeated (5X in ch. 12).

b)     “Will condemn (that generation)”—why? Queen “came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon”. Unwilling to listen to true wisdom—of Someone greater! 1 Kngs says she didn’t believe, but because she came—made the effort—she was convinced.

c)     “Something greater”=Messiah. The King of kings—not just an earthly king. Solomon’s wisdom was from God. Jesus was God. Solomon had great wisdom. Jesus had infinite wisdom. Solomon was sinful. Jesus was sinless. Solomon did no miracles. Jesus backed up His wisdom with incredible miracles. The Queen believed Solomon. Jesus was rejected.

III.  Application—Two Questions:

A.    Are you unbelieving like the scribes and Pharisees?

1.     Unwilling to turn from your sin of unbelief? Believe the sign of Jonah! Jesus has risen!

a)     Have you not heard?

(1)  Perhaps no one ever laid out the powerful evidence for you—listen:

(a)   Jesus predicted His resurrection (above; Matt. 16:21; Mark 9:9-10; John 2:18-22).

(b)  The Old Testament prophesied it (Psalm 16:10; compare Acts 2:25-31; 13:33-37).

(c)   Tomb empty. Enemies silence disciples? Produce a body! Couldn’t (Jn 20:3-9).

(d)  More than 500 eyewitnesses! Touched Him, heard voice, and saw Him eat (Matt. 28:16-20; Luke 24:13-39; John 20:11-29; John 21:1-9; Acts 1:6-11; 1 Cor. 15:3-8).

(e)   Lives of disciples revolutionized. Fled and denied Christ at His arrest, but later feared no one in their proclamation of the risen Christ (Matt. 26:56, 69-75).

(f)    Resurrection was central message of early church. The church grew with an unwavering conviction that Christ had risen (Acts 4:33; 5:30-32; Rom. 5:21).

(g)   Many today testify that the risen Christ has transformed their lives (Eph 1:18-21).

(2)  Barna: 90 percent of Americans know the Bible teaches “Jesus was crucified, died, rose from the dead, and is spiritually alive today; that Jesus was born to a virgin; and that eventually all people will be judged by God.” Most know but refuse to believe!

b)     Willing to call Jesus “Teacher” but not “something greater”? Does a great teacher (just a man) repeatedly predict his own death and resurrection, convinced more than 500?

c)     “Craving signs” but not willing to believe “the sign of Jonah”? You may say, “God, give me a sign—show me you’re there!” Heathen—no Christians/Bible? Maybe. Christian witness/9 Bibles in your home? No signs will be given. Sadly, Luke 16:19-31.

2.     Unwilling to listen to true wisdom? Listen to the warning of Jesus! Judgment is coming!

a)     Of course, the opposite is also true—resurrection is coming! 1 Cor 15

B.    Are you warning the unbelieving like Jesus?

1.     Pointing people to “the sign of Jonah”? Story of Josh McDowell—challenge investigation.

2.     Warning people about the danger of unbelief?

a)     Did Jesus shy away because He didn’t want to offend? Do you shy away because you don’t want to offend? God in the Dock, p.261-2

b)     If what Jesus said is true (there is a judgment coming) then the consequences of our silence are immeasurable! We need to return to the urgency of the original witnesses to the resurrection of Christ! They faced religious persecution, imprisonment, death! What’s a little rejection? (e.g., Paul—Acts 25:23-26:29)

IV.  Closing: This story (The Body, Colson) demonstrates that same urgency: It was May Day, 1990. The place, Moscow’s Red Square. “Is it straight, Father?” one Orthodox priest asked another, shifting the heavy, eight-foot crucifix on his shoulder. “Yes,” said the other. “It is straight.” Together the two priests, along with a group of parishioners holding ropes that steadied the beams of the huge cross, walked the parade route. Before them was passed the official might of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics: the usual May Day procession of tanks, missiles, troops, and salutes to the Communist party elite. Behind the tanks surged a giant crowd of protesters, shouting up at Mikhail Gorbachev. “Bread! Freedom! Truth!” As the throng passed directly in front of the Soviet leader standing in his place of honor, the priests hoisted their heavy burden toward the sky. The cross emerged from the crowd. As it did, the figure of Jesus Christ obscured the giant poster faces of Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, and Vladimir Lenin that provided the backdrop for Gorbachev’s reviewing stand. “Mikhail (Sergeyevich) Gorbachev!” one of the priests shouted, his deep voice cleaving the clamor of the protesters and piercing straight toward the angry Soviet leader. “Mikhail (Sergeyevich) Gorbachev! Christ is risen!” (The Body, Charles W. Colson, 1992, Word Publishing, p. 231).

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