We Want a Sign

Week 53 | Section 62

We Want a SignThe pharisees remain antagonistic, doubting the signs they have already seen and the testimony of Jesus and John the Baptist. While they wished to have him tried and killed, they would have to sway the masses. But Jesus continued to win the hearts of the people, not by any campaign but by living with integrity as the Messiah, the Lord who saves.


Matthew 12:38-45
38 Then certain of the scribes and Pharisees answered, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from you.”1¯2¯3 39 But he answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign,4 but no sign5will be given to it but the sign of Jonah the prophet.6 40  For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the whale, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.7 41  The men of Nineveh will stand up in the judgment with this generation, and will condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah;8¯9 and behold, someone greater than Jonah is here.10¯11 42  The queen of the south12 will rise up in the judgment with this generation, and will condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth13 to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and behold, someone greater than Solomon is here. 43  When an unclean spirit has gone out of a man, he passes through waterless places, seeking rest, and doesn’t find it. 44  Then he says, ‘I will return into my house from which I came out,’ and when he has come back, he finds it empty, swept, and put in order. 45  Then he goes, and takes with himself seven other spirits more evil than he is, and they enter in and dwell there. The last state of that man becomes worse than the first. Even so will it be also to this evil generation.”14¯15¯16¯17

Group Dialog:

  1. What do you want/require before obeying God?
  2. How was Jesus confirmed and approved for ministry? Did he require the blessing of the Pharisees?
  3. How have you heard God speak to you? (In the Word, in prayer, through another person).
  4. How can your current situation affect your response time when convicted?
  5. Have you made yourself available to God? What evidence is there in your calendar that your relationship with God and his Kingdom purposes are your priority?
  6. In what ways are you still trying to live by your own power, by your own rules, your own methods? What aspects of your thoughts, your life , your ministry have you not yet yielded to the Holy Spirit’s control?

Learning Objectives:

Jesus’ substitutionary sacrifice, admonishment, Great commission, sin, repentance, change of heart, worship,

Study Notes:

  1. In the sequence of events Jesus had just delivered a demoniac, which the Scribes had witnessed. On the surface they appear to be responsibly scrutinizing or much more stubborn than the local Jewish people. However, the Pharisees became antagonistic toward Jesus when he broke their man-made law that it was not to legal to heal on the Sabbath. Jesus mercifully restored the withered hand of the man who had come into the Synagogue (Week 38 | Section 51 | Mt 12:9-14; Mark 3:1-6; Lk 6:6-11). In Mt 12:14 we read that from then on they plotted to kill Jesus. However in the section that precedes this they had taken their sin one step further – too far – and blasphemed against the Holy Spirit by calling what was of God the work of the devil. (Mt 12:24)
  2. 1Cor 1:22  “For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom.” Read also: Isaiah 7:11-12; 1Pt 5:5
  3. They already had sufficient testimony, evidence, and signs to decide if they believed that Jesus was the Messiah (eternal, king, lamb of God, son of God, Lord of all).
  4. The sign that Jesus is speaking of is his resurrection. This may be the first public prophetic statement of this future event. There are three other parallels between Jonah and Jesus (#3 being the intended “sign”):  1) Jonah was called and willing to be a prophet (Jesus willing to come to Earth); 2) Jonah was at the mercy of the crew on the ship (Jesus was at the mercy of Potius Pilate); 3) Jonah was in the belly of the whale for three nights and day (Jesus in the tomb and resurrection on the third day); 4) Jonah was sent to the Gentiles (Jesus saved the Gentiles as well as the Jews).
  5. The Pharisees had already proven their own spiritual blindness to what Jesus had already done and arrogance that nothing he would say or do would be enough to satisfy them.
  6. Read the book of Jonah. Jonah had been sent by God to Ninevah to tell them about their sinfulness and call them to repentance. Read this article to get an understanding of what happened to Ninevah later, for like the Pharisees they did not remain devout and tit was laid waste.  Interestingly, even though God’s Covenant with Abraham said that Abraham’s descendants God would bless the nations, this is the only time in the Old Testament where Israel is commanded to actively pursue the Gentiles to bring them to God.
  7. Read 1Cor 3:4; Rom 5:6-8; 1Pt 2:24
  8. Like Jonah, We have been sent to the gentiles cf the Great Commission, Mark 16:15.; 2Cor 4:7; Rom 1:16
  9. Jonah preached for forty days, we know now that the Pharisees had forty years before the destruction of Jerusalem by the Roman emperor Titus (70AD).
  10. Jonah, a minor prophet who was a sinful and rebellious was sent to Nineveh, but the Pharisees and their followers received their message from Jesus Christ (the Messiah) who was obedient, merciful, and without sin.
  11. Oddly, Jonah was sent to the Ninevites who were completely unfamiliar with the (OT) Scriptures. Jesus came to his own, Jewish people, priests, and pharisees all well versed in the Scriptures, yet it was Nineveh who repented and received God’s mercy.
  12. The Queen of the South is the Queen of Sheba (Kings 10:1-13;  2Chron 9:1-9).
  13. The Sabeans, where Sheba was Queen, is located in lower Arabia about 1,200 miles southeast of Israel. She traveled all that way to learn from Solomon. But the Jewish elders , Pharisees and scribes traveled less than 100 miles when summoned to entrap Jesus. She came bearing gifts for Solomon, but they plotted to kill him.
  14. When the people of Israel had begun to worship the Canaanite idols Israel taken away by Assyria (722BC) and Judah taken into Babylonian Captivity (586 BC).
  15. Jesus called the Pharisees adulterous because they had dedicated themselves to be in a covenant relationship with God but along the way they began to value their own system of law and piety more than the covenant. When Israel began worshiping the false gods of Baal, Molech, and Asherah, the prophets called them adulterous, and though this generation had abandoned the Canaanite gods they followed the teaching of the Pharisees and placed their hope and trust in the idol of man-made religious tradition.
  16. Jesus goes beyond his condemnation to the Scribes and Pharisees, but to all those who are the fruit (Mt 12:33) of their labor those who follow and support their teaching
  17. We should yield to the chastening of God. A Change of behavior without a change of heart will lead to some future destruction. When cleansed and forgiven from sin we ought to fill that space with godly activity, moreover we need to embrace the purposes of God for which we were created. Eph 4:12-13; Heb 12:5-6

By Greg Troxell

Disciple, entrepreneur and catalytic leader. Advocate of the sharing economy. Ministering to youth, new Christians, and equipping the saints. Developing the Emotivational practice. Founder of