The Sign Was Given: Matthew 12:38-42
“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; 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. 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.” Matthew‬ ‭12‬:‭38‬-‭42‬ ‬‬
The scribes and Pharisees now ask Jesus for a sign. This request escapes me. Up to this point His whole ministry had been filled with signs and wonders. At what point are the skeptics satisfied? At what point are people accountable to respond to the truth about Jesus Christ they already have.
Jesus responds that the sign of Jonah was coming. The Son of man was about to be crucified and spend three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The simple story of the gospel of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ to atone for the sins of mankind is sufficient truth for salvation.
Jesus then pointed to both Nineveh and the Queen of the South. In both cases truth was preached but no signs were given. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.
Jesus by no means played into the hands of the atheists or agnostics. What signs did they offer to validate their unbelief and justify their sinful ways? Their request was equivalent to the three demands of the devil who tempted Jesus in the wilderness. They were playing the devils advocate.
The preaching of the gospel is sufficient basis for the salvation of mankind. 1 Peter 1:6-12 drives this point home. These wicked scribes and Pharisees were privileged to both see and hear Jesus. They saw the whole spectrum of His signs and wonders. Blessed are later generations who have never saw Him, but still believed.
Jesus issues a strong warning in this text. Don’t sit in the judgement seat and make demands of Jesus. He is not the One being judged. He does not need human affirmation from you or anyone else. He is the one coming on the judgement seat!
Evidence is everywhere of human depravity. Sin and Satan have left deep footprints. Jesus Christ offers forgiveness, hope and a new way of life. His love needs no greater proof than His death on the cross to pay for the sins of mankind. The resurrection satisfied His claim of Deity.
Other world religions had prophets and teachers, but they all now occupy a grave. Only Christianity has a Saviour Who left behind an empty grave. The sign was given. The enemy was defeated. The evidence is sufficient for a verdict. “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved!”
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global