The Sign of Jonah II | Matthew 16:1-4

Matthew 16:1-4

Consistent with how the devil had tempted Jesus earlier, the religious elites approached Jesus and demanded a heavenly sign.  Though Satan had challenged Jesus throw himself from the roof of the Temple, knowing full well that he had the power to accomplish the feat, the religious professionals insisted on a similar miracle convinced that he couldn’t satisfy their demands.

The Pharisees’ were simply posturing out of envy. They had seen Jesus heal a quadriplegic, raise the dead, open the eyes of a man born blind and do many other things that no one else could do apart from God’s power. The religious authorities weren’t interested in the truth about Jesus. They were only looking for a way to shame him publically and to protect their prestige.  Had they tested Jesus honestly, they would have tested him against Scripture.  They would have tested his deeds and words and against the Word of God.

But Jesus was a threat to the religious authorities’ power, and he was such a threat that the Pharisees and the Sadducees, who normally could not stand each other, were brought together to fight a common enemy.  For this obscure Jewish rabbi was now stealing the people’s hearts. Common people were calling him Messiah and doing without their endorsement.  Jesus simply had to be stopped before the people went off and made him their king, or before the Romans became captivated by his teaching and took him to Rome.

Jesus’ reply to Pharisees insincere request exposed the ignorance of the religious elites.  Jesus mission wasn’t to become an earthly king that would liberate Israel from the Romans or to remove the religious authorities.  Jesus’ mission was to present himself before a cross to conquer death and establish himself as the King of Heaven.  So again, Jesus informs the Pharisees that only the Sign of Jonah, the greatest sign imaginable, would be given to their generation.  The Son of God would rise victoriously from the dead.  He would conquer the grave, and he would pave a path of freedom for those who put their trust in him.

The Pharisees and Sadducees could not see the simplest spiritual reality: Jesus was the Messiah.  Like anyone, they could read the sky and predict the coming weather, but they could not see that Messiah had come even with all his miracles and great wisdom.

Faith is a gift from God that grants a spiritual perception that cannot be learned or earned.  The religious professionals never understood this because they were blinded by their selfish desires. Even though they were given the Sign of Jonah that so plainly revealed that Jesus was the Christ, they still rejected the greatest of all miracles in order to gratify their sinful desires.

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