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NO SIGN FOR A WICKED GENERATION!

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord's Day Morning, January 26, 2003


"Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from thee. But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas" (Matthew 12:38-39).


The scribes and Pharisees were the religious people of that time. They had just seen Christ deliver a man possessed by a demon, so that the man could now see and speak (Matthew 12:22). This was not enough for them. They wanted further proof - another sign - before they would believe in Him. They called Him "master." But this title of respect was hypocritical because He was not their master at all. The fact that they wanted more proof showed that He was not really their master at all. Since Christ had already given them so many signs, their request for another sign showed that they were not seriously seeking to believe in Him.

Many people today are just like them. They say in their hearts, "Jesus, we would believe in you if you would simply perform some great miracle for me." They say to themselves that they need more proof. This attitude always reminds me of King Herod. Herod was glad to see Jesus. But he did not want to believe in Him. Oh, no! He was glad to see Jesus "because he had heard many things [about] him; and he hoped to have seen some miracle done by him" (Luke 23:8). Like these scribes and Pharisees, Herod questioned Jesus. "But he answered him nothing" (Luke 23:9).  Jesus said nothing.  And He did not perform a miracle to satisfy Herod's curiosity.

You see, Christ is not a magician. He doesn't go around performing magic tricks. These scribes and Pharisees had already seen Him deliver a man from Satan. That should have been enough. And it should be enough for you or anyone else. You see here seated on the platform behind me three men who were delivered from the power of Satan. Mr. Griffith was delivered from unbelief as a Unitarian, who utterly rejected Christ before he was converted. Dr. Chan was a superstitious Roman Catholic. Dr. Cagan was an outright atheist. Christ converted them, "insomuch that the blind and dumb both spake and saw" (cf. Matthew 12:22). That should be enough for you. If you want more proof, one of Herod's magic tricks, Christ simply will not give it to you!  The Pharisees had seen a man delivered - and so have you.  That should be enough for anyone.

So, now, we come to Christ's answer. Here is how He answered these scribes and Pharisees:

"But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas"  (Matthew 12:39).

Now I want you to notice several things about Christ's answer.

I. First, He did not give them what they wanted.

"But he answered…" He did not give a sign, but He gave an answer. It was not what they asked for. People who want the proof of some miracle don't get it. Instead, they get an answer. And the answer Christ gives you today is right here - on the pages of the Bible!

Why do you think the Bible was given to you by God? It was given to you as the answer. The Bible itself is Christ's answer to you! Every word of the Bible was given by inspiration from God, word for word, in Hebrew and Greek, to answer you!

"All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness" (II Timothy 3:16).

The answer to every question you have is in the Bible! That's why God gave it to you - to answer you.

You say, "But that isn't the answer I want. I want to see a miracle." Ah, do you see how much like these Pharisees you are? That's exactly what they wanted too! They had just been listening to Christ. He had just finished speaking to them. It's recorded in verses 33 to 37. "Then," right after He had spoken to them - " Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from thee" (Matthew 12:38).

Today, you hear what Christ said. It's recorded for you to hear and read - right on the pages of the Bible. But you want something else - a "feeling," a "miracle," a "sign" of some sort or other. You are not going to get it! All you are going to get is what they got - the words of Christ - printed there in front of you, in your Bible. "But he answered and said unto them…" (Matthew 12:39).

"But," you say, "they were listening to what Christ said. He was right in front of them, speaking to them in person." True, but in one way, what you have is even better. Christ is speaking directly to you also, but what He says is recorded on the pages of your Bible. In one way this is even better than having Him talk to you. You can go back over the verses. You can read them over and over. They couldn't do that.

"We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed" (II Peter 1:19).

The "prophecy of scripture" (II Peter 1:20) is more certain and sure than the very voice of God, heard audibly on the holy mountain (cf. II Peter 1:18). The Bible is more certain, more sure, than any voice you could ever hear. Abraham said, "They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them" (Luke 16:29).

So, first, we see in our text, that Jesus did not give them what they wanted. He gave them His words, rather than a miraculous "sign." "But he answered and said unto them…" (Matthew 12:39).

II. Second, He rebuked them for asking for such a miracle.

"But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign" (Matthew 12:39).

He not only rebuked them, but their whole generation. They were nearly all like these scribes and Pharisees. Only a handful out of their whole generation really wanted to believe in Christ. That's why He calls them "an evil and adulterous generation." The primary reference here is to spiritual adultery. They were unfaithful to God. They rejected the Saviour. They had already "held a council against him, how they might destroy him" (Matthew 12:14). They had already said He was Satanic (ref. Matthew 12:24). They were indeed "an evil and adulterous generation" (Matthew 12:39).

Your parents and grandparents did the same thing. People used to go to church every Sunday. But your parents stopped going to church regularly, and you grew up without any knowledge of Christ or the Bible. No wonder you don't know God! No wonder your life has no meaning! No wonder you are so lonely! That's why you need to reject your lost parents' way of life, and get into church here every Sunday! Instead of going to a wild dance, and taking drugs, and being all alone afterwards - come and have fun with us - in church! Why be lonely? Come home - to church! And then come to Jesus Christ and be converted!

"A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign." No wonder these TV preachers have people falling down on the floor and others waving their hands in ecstasy! "A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign." They want miracles and "signs." They don't want an old-fashioned Puritan sermon and an old-fashioned Puritan conversion! Get out of this generation!

"Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord…And [I] will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty"  (II Corinthians 6:17-18).

Get out of this wicked and adulterous generation - and get into this church every time the door is open! There's nothing good out there anyway! All they offer is a few cheap thrills - followed by more loneliness! Get out of this generation - and get into this church! Why be lost? Why be lonely? Come home - to church! Come home - to Jesus Christ!

"But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas"  (Matthew 12:39).

Jesus did not give them the answer they wanted. Jesus rebuked them for asking for a miraculous "sign."

III. Third, He gave them only the sign of His resurrection.

Jesus called this, "the sign of the prophet Jonas" [Jonah in Hebrew]. Then Jesus said,

"For as [Jonah] was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth" (Matthew 12:40).

There are four Hebrew expressions in this verse that I should comment on: "The heart of the earth" simply means under the ground; "Three days and three nights" means "part of three natural days…it is a matter of speech very usual" (Matthew Henry). The Greek word for "whale" is better translated "sea monster" (Fritz Rienecker, A Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament, Zondervan, 1980). Here Christ refers to Jonah 1:17, "Now the Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights." A gigantic, mutated sea creature, especially created by God, swallowed the prophet for three days. Christ said He would be in the grave as long as Jonah was in that monstrous creature.  Jonas is simply the Greek translation of the Hebrew name, Jonah.

As Jonah on the third day was [released] from his prison, and came back to the land of the living again…so Christ on the third day [returned] to life, and [rose] out of his grave to send abroad the gospel to the Gentiles (Matthew Henry).

Jesus Christ rose physically from the dead - just as Jonah did (J. Vernon McGee showed that Jonah was actually dead - and resurrected by God). Just as Jonah was brought "back to the land of the living" (as Matthew Henry said), so Christ was brought up from the grave! That was Jesus' message to these scribes and Pharisees. He was saying, in effect, "If you want proof that you should believe in me, here it is - I will rise from the dead on the third day!"

They tried their best to keep Him from rising.

"[The] Pharisees came together unto Pilate, Saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again. Command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day…Pilate said unto them, Ye have a watch: go your way, make it as sure as you can" (Matthew 27:62-65).

They made the sepulchre as secure as they could. They sealed the stone shut. They put a guard outside. They made it as secure as they could! But, thank God, they couldn't make it secure enough! "He rose again the third day, according to the Scriptures" (I Corinthians 15:4).  

"And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for he is risen, as he said" (Matthew 28:5-6).

Christ has risen.  He is in the Third Heaven, at the right side of God.  Come to Christ and He will wash your sins away with His Blood!  And then come home to church here next Sunday!

(END OF SERMON)

Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan:

Matthew 12:10-14,22-24,38-40.

Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:

"Christ Arose!" (by Robert Lowry, 1826-1899).

THE OUTLINE OF

NO SIGN FOR A WICKED GENERATION!

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

 

"Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from thee. But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas" (Matthew 12:38-39).

(Matthew 12:22; Luke 23:8-9)

I.   Jesus did not give them what they wanted, II Timothy 3:16;
II Peter 1:18-20; Luke 16:29.

II.  Jesus rebuked them for asking for such a miracle,
Matthew 12:14,24; II Corinthians 6:17-18.

III. Jesus gave them only the sign of His resurrection,
Matthew 12:40; Jonah 1:17; Matthew 27:62-65;
I Corinthians 15:4; Matthew 28:5-6.

You can read Dr. Hymers' sermons each week on the Internet
at www.rlhymersjr.com. Click on "Sermon Manuscripts."