The Book of Luke, God’s Clear Evidence that Produced Various Verdicts, Part IV - Lesson 145
In our passage in Luke 11 we have studied the response of the people to Christ’s expulsion of the demon from the man whose speech was taken away by the devil.
Jesus Christ, has by reason and logic given flight to each argument, pressing any man who desires truth to come to the conclusion that this very Jesus is the promised Messiah.
God’s word is clear in this matter and only a heart that desires darkness will reject the vast evidence of God’s word.
We have also heard the response of a woman to these arguments, a woman who lifted up her voice to praise the womb and the paps of the mother of this one who cast out the demon.
There was no welcome by Jesus Christ of these fine complementary words about his Mother, but instead there was an encouragement to hear the word of God, and keep it.
That is what Jesus Christ is interested in promoting, not the elevation of Mary, his mother, nor the elevation of any man, but only the elevation of God’s word.
That is what the Bible is all about, believing God’s word.
That is what God requires in this matter of salvation.
So we pick up where we left off two weeks ago by reading of Jesus Christ’s further response to this fickle crowd.
This crowd who has witnessed a great miracle but in many cases refused to give God the glory for they do not believe His word, the incarnate word who is Jesus Christ.
Luke 11:29‑32, And when the people were gathered thick together, he began to say, This is an evil generation: they seek a sign; and there shall no sign be given it, but the sign of Jonas the prophet. 30For as Jonas was a sign unto the Ninevites, so shall also the Son of man be to this generation. 31The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with the men of this generation, and condemn them: for she came from the utmost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here. 32The men of Nineveh shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here.
We see in this passage folks who were spending their time looking for a sign from heaven when the greatest sign from heaven was standing and preaching before them at that very moment.
As far as God was concerned Jesus Christ himself was the sign.
And Jesus Christ made that very clear as he said: For as Jonas was a sign unto the Ninevites, so shall also the Son of man be to this generation.
But these folks were looking for signs that would excite and arouse them, not signs that were promised in scripture.
This shows us that most times we would not know a sign from heaven if we saw one.
In Luke 11:29-32 we are told what Christ thinks of these sign seekers.
This is an evil generation: they seek a sign;
In this passage Jesus Christ addresses those who refuse to come to a verdict as to Jesus Christ until they see a sign from heaven.
Seekers of signs reveal evil for by seeking signs they reject God’s simple and unadorned word.
Now notice that the sign they seek has to conform to a preconceived idea as to what a sign from heaven should look like for they recognize not the sign that God provides in His Son.
If the sign does not conform to my idea of a sign then it is no sign as far as I am concerned.
But Jesus Christ said in his discourse that he himself is the sign.
You see then how they refuse to recognize any sign unless it conforms to what they think a sign should be.
Jesus has very strong words for those who seek after a sign from heaven.
His words inform us that this is evidence that this generation of Israelites is wicked, and so much so that the “belief” of two Old Testament peoples puts them to shame.
The people of Nineveh accepted the “sign of Jonah” and repented, and the Queen of the South believed the reports about Solomon’s wisdom.
For this, they will testify in the day of judgment against this generation for their unbelief.
Notice that the peoples of the examples that Jesus Christ mentions are both Gentile peoples who will condemn the unbelief of this generation who saw themselves as God’s chosen people.
Don’t you suppose this revelation about the belief of Gentiles caused them to hate him the more?
Another point that Jesus Christ made is that both peoples believed with much less evidence than that which this generation had seen.
The Ninevites repented at the preaching of Jonah, which as we find it recorded in the book of Jonah may have been only one short sentence: “Yet forty days and Nineveh shall be overthrown.”
That’s not a lot of evidence!
And from all we know of Jonah, he spoke these words in a way that was not meant to convince or to convert these people.
It is almost as if he whispered these words under his breath hoping that the Ninevites would not believe him for it angered him afterwards that the Ninevites did repent.
But in spite of Jonah the Ninevites believed his word.
The Queen of the South also was convinced of Solomon’s wisdom when she heard his words.
From this we learn that the belief which God commended was based upon inspired words, more that upon miraculous works.
The responses of all of these people within the crowd that witnessed Jesus’ deliverance of the demoniac were different, but the end result was the same: they did not believe in Jesus as their Messiah.
And the foundation of their unbelief was in their rejection of Jesus’ words, which led them to a misinterpretation of His works.
The great problem of sign‑seeking is that it does not find the words of God to be sufficient and therefore continuous miraculous works are demanded.
The Israelites consistently “put God to the test” by not believing His words, and by insisting upon more works.
6And others, tempting him, sought of him a sign from heaven.
The tests which Satan put to Jesus Christ were all intended to get Him to do some work, in an act of unbelief in the Word of God, to which Jesus always responded with the Word of God.
In Hebrews chapter 11, we are told that faith is not grounded in what is seen (works), but in what is unseen (God’s word).
Faith comes by hearing the word of God, not by works!
The heroes listed in the book of Hebrews all lived out their lives in faith, believing in God’s promises, even though they did not see what was promised.
Those who thought themselves wise by remaining neutral were surprised by our Lord’s strong words of rebuke here.
He taught them that neutrality was actually hostility, and that it was also dangerous, for those who are not with him are against him.
The Lord’s work of casting out the demon was meant to be interpreted by Jesus’ words, by His teaching.
John the Baptist had identified Jesus as the promised Messiah.
Jesus had thus identified Himself as well.
To fail to see this work as the work of Messiah could only be the result of the rejection of His words.
The response to works should be measured by God’s word.
What does God’s word say about these works.
The works of Christ are foretold in the Old Testament and are given to point to God’s word.
The works of Christ are not to stand alone as extravaganzas as the Israelites desired.
It was not that the evidence was so little (for look at how the Ninevites and the Queen of the South responded to so little evidence), but that their unbelief was so great.
The relationship between Jesus’ words and His works can be seen throughout the gospels.
In the Gospel of John, certain “signs” are selected, but the significance of each sign is defined by Jesus’ words.
Jesus’ healing of the blind man is explained in terms of His being the “light of the world” (John 9).
Jesus’ raising of Lazarus is explained in terms of His being the “resurrection and the life” (John 11).
People persisted in wanting more works from Jesus, while not wanting His words. They concentrated on the miracle but not on his words.
We see this today with so called faith healers where people are drawn to these so called miracles and withdrawn from God’s word.
When Jesus fed the 5,000, the people wanted this bread from then on, and they would have forcibly made Him their king (John 6:15).
But when Jesus spoke of eating His flesh and drinking His blood, people could not stand to hear His words, and they left Him (John 6:60).
When the disciples were asked if they, too, would leave, they responded in terms of Jesus’ words, and not just His works:
“Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life” (John 6:68).
In Luke chapter 16 Jesus told the story of the rich man and Lazarus.
When the rich man petitioned that someone be sent to his family, to warn them of the judgment to come, “Father Abraham” responded that his relatives had “Moses and the Prophets,” the Word of God, as it were, to warn them.
He further said that if they would not receive these words, the return of one from the dead (a miracle, a sign) would not convince them.
In other words, men insist that God produce works, signs, when they refuse to believe His words.
Men in this condition will not be saved!
Seeking signs is not an evidence of faith, but an evidence of unbelief.