Sun, Apr 01, 2018

Resurrection 2018 Jesus, Jonah and You!

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MATTHEW 12:38-42


            Please turn in your Bibles this morning to Matthew chapter 12 as we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! And I do realize that many today downplay the resurrection of Jesus, they just don’t feel that it is an important part of the Christian life. They just don’t see the need for it.

            Let me give you a few examples and you will see what I mean and then I will share why this is so important for us to understand.

            In the late 1990s, a group of scholars assembled to evaluate whether Jesus actually said the things attributed to him by the Gospel writers. Although they employed remarkably subjective criteria in their evaluation of Scripture, members of the self-appointed “Jesus Seminar” were widely quoted by the media as authorities on the Christian faith.

            Marcus Borg, a Jesus Seminar leader, said this of Christ’s resurrection: “As a child, I took it for granted that Easter meant that Jesus literally rose from the dead. I now see Easter very differently. For me, it is irrelevant whether or not the tomb was empty. Whether Easter involved something remarkable happening to the physical body of Jesus is irrelevant.”



            So, some 25 years ago this group was promoting that the physical resurrection of Jesus is irrelevant. We might not think too much about that but what they were saying, people were listening and when you look at what is believed today about the resurrection of Jesus, it is shocking!

            This statistic is from 2017 and we are told that . . .

            A quarter of people who describe themselves as Christians in Great Britain do not believe in the resurrection of Jesus, a survey commissioned by the BBC suggests.



            How can that be? How did that happen? It is simple. Back in 2002 we are told that . . .

            A third of Church of England clergy doubt or disbelieve in the physical Resurrection and only half are convinced of the truth of the Virgin birth, according to a new survey.



            If the leaders in the church don’t believe in the resurrection of Jesus, then that is what they will teach their people. And that is exactly the results that we see, the disbelief in the physical resurrection of Jesus Christ!

            And with the Jesus Seminar group and many, many others, doubt in the Word of God is growing in this country and doubt in the resurrection of Jesus is also growing. One article stated,

            Speaking of his influences, [Brian] McLaren has said, “I really like [Jesus Seminar fellows] Marcus Borg and John Dominic [Crossan; they] have a new book coming out called The Last Week [that] follows . . . what we call passion week, or holy week. It is really a great book. . . . evangelicals tend to think that they’re the only people who take the Bible seriously. I am so impressed with how seriously these guys take the Gospel of Mark, really the last week of Jesus. It’s really stunning.”

            Marcus Borg is an avowed panentheist, and John Dominic Crossan, cochairman of the Jesus Seminar, told Time magazine that after the crucifixion, “Jesus’ corpse went the way of all abandoned criminals’ bodies: it was probably barely covered with dirt, vulnerable to the wild dogs that roamed the wasteland of the execution grounds.” The subsequent “tales” of Jesus’ entombment and resurrection, he says, were merely the result of “wishful thinking.”



            So now, for us, it is just wishful thinking that Jesus rose from the grave and not a fact based on eyewitness accounts! Do you see how serious this is?

            Marcus Borg wrote,

            To think that the central meaning of Easter [resurrection] depends upon something spectacular happening to Jesus’ corpse misses the point of the Easter message and risks trivializing the story. To link Easter primarily to our hope for an afterlife, as if our post-death existence depends upon God having transformed the corpse of Jesus, is to reduce the story to a politically-domesticated yearning for our survival beyond death.

- Marcus Borg, “Easter About Life, Not Death” (Washington Post/Newsweek April 7, 2004


            He thinks that our believing in the resurrection of Jesus is “trivializing the story” are you kidding me? And you wonder why Christians have hope in this life and it begins and ends with this life. There is no excitement for the return of Christ, to being united with Him in heaven. But our hope is not in this fallen world, but it is a future hope of the coming of Jesus and the setting up of His Kingdom and finally, a new heaven and a new earth, the eternal state! No more sin, no more death, no more tears! I can’t imagine why people don’t long for this!

            Charles Spurgeon preached over 125 years ago and what he spoke of, the warnings he gave, it seems like people were not listening. He wrote regarding the modern liberalism of his day,

            A new religion has been initiated, which is no more Christianity than chalk is cheese; and this religion, being destitute of moral honesty, palms itself off as the old faith with slight improvements, and on this plea usurps pulpits which were erected for gospel preaching. The Atonement is scouted, the inspiration of Scripture is derided, the Holy Spirit is degraded into an influence, the punishment of sin is turned into fiction, and the resurrection into a myth, and yet these enemies of our faith expect us to call them brethren, and maintain a confederacy with them! . . .

            A little plain-speaking would do a world of good just now. These gentlemen desire to be let alone. They want no noise raised. Of course thieves hate watch-dogs, and love darkness. It is time that somebody should spring his rattle, and call attention to the way in which God is being robbed of his glory, and man of his hope. For the present it behoves believers to be cautious, lest they lend their support and countenance to the betrayers of the Lord.

- Charles Spurgeon


            Before we get to our text this morning, we must understand the importance of the resurrection of Jesus.

            First of all, it is part of the Gospel message as Paul tells us in I Corinthians 15:3-4, For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.

            Christ not only died for our sins, not only was He in the grave for three days according to the Scriptures, but He rose from the grave on the third day, all according to the Scriptures!

            Now if you reject that, what else do you reject? You see, you don’t have the right to pick and chose what you agree with and what you disagree with the Scriptures.

            Let me explain it like this. Picture a history book of the United States, from its beginnings until now. And as you are reading it you tear out some of the pages you don’t agree with. The author has done a thorough evaluation of the material he wrote, and it is accurate, you just don’t agree with it.

            Would that be something that is right to do? Of course not, you can’t change history because you just don’t like it or agree with what it is saying. It is history and that is what we have here in the Bible, the unfolding love story of God for sinful man!

            And by changing it you are saying you know more than the Author! Now, the question here is, “Were you there when these events took place?”

            Of course you were not there!

            Then, how in the world can you say they did not take place?

            You can’t. And the Author, the Holy Spirit, does not lie and thus, what is in here is truth, we can trust God’s Word!

            And there is a huge problem in denying that Jesus rose from the grave. Paul expounds on that in I Corinthians 15:12-19 when he wrote, Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up - if in fact the dead do not rise. For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.

            The bottom line is this. If Christ did not rise from the dead then, you are still in your sins! That is not what I said, it is what Paul has said.

            And why would not only the Apostles but others who said that they had witnessed the risen Lord, be willing to die for a lie? They wouldn’t.

            And yes, many will die for what they believe but they believe it is the truth. I am not talking about that. These men witnessed the risen Lord, they were eyewitnesses, and thus, they died for what they knew to be true, HE IS RISEN!

            And if Jesus did not rise from the dead, then why would they continue to preach a lie, that would be foolishness. At least one of them would have recanted their story but none did, and, like I have said, many went to their deaths for what they believed!

            And if Jesus is still in the grave, then our hope is empty, and we are the most pitiable people, placing our faith in something that did not happen. Or, like one said, “wishful thinking!”

            But Paul does not leave us in that hopeless condition. Yes, he wants us to think about what denying the resurrection will bring upon us, but then the reality of what took place.

            In I Corinthians 15:20-22 Paul wrote, But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.

            This is what we are celebrating, and not just today, but we should be rejoicing all the time that Christ is risen from the dead.

            And think about this. If Jesus was still in the tomb don’t you think that the disciples of Jesus, at least some of them, would have made the tomb into some kind of shrine to worship? Of course they would but it wasn’t because He was not there, He is risen!

            This morning we are going to look at, “Jesus, Jonah and You!” That is the title of this message from Matthew 12:38-42.

            So, with that as our background, let’s begin reading in Matthew chapter 12, beginning in verse 38 and see what the Lord has for us this morning as we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!


MATTHEW 12:38-42

            I am going to break these verses down and we are going to focus on three points in these verses. They are,

            LOOK AT JESUS – MATTHEW 12:39

            LOOK AT JONAH – MATTHEW 12:40

            LOOK AT YOU – MATTHEW 12:38, 41-42



            Make no mistake about, it all begins and ends with Jesus and thus, that is why we are LOOKING AT JESUS!

            Now let me ask you this question. In regard to Jesus, what is the greatest sign of His Messiah-ship? Without a doubt it is the resurrection! Without it our faith is empty, futile, we are still lost in our sins. But the resurrection did happen, the tomb is empty, and we do have the forgiveness of sins, death has no power over us! And that is what Jesus is pointing to here when He speaks of the prophet Jonah. And we will look at that issue of Jonah in a few minutes.

            But first, the resurrection of Jesus is important as we saw when we opened up our study this morning! If Jesus did not rise from the dead, if the tomb is still occupied by Jesus, then He is like everyone else and there is no hope for us. We are still dead in our trespasses and sins and we will remain in these bodies, there is no resurrection life!

            Now, I do realize that many reject the resurrection of Jesus and they come up with all kinds of ideas why this was just a lie that was put forth by the followers of Jesus. But what is the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus?

            Obviously, we were not there and thus, we must rely on historical data to come to our conclusions. And, even if you feel that the Bible is not the inspired Word of God, which I do believe it is, but even if you don’t, you have to look at the historical reliability of the Scriptures and they are very reliable!

            There are three points we will be looking at in regard to the resurrection of Jesus to see if it is true. And keep in mind that these religious leaders were seeking after a sign and Jesus points them to Jonah as the sign of His resurrection from the dead. As Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so Jesus will be three days and three nights in the belly of the earth before He rises from the grave!

            The first point we will be looking at is this. The tomb in which Jesus was buried in was discovered empty by a group of women as well as Peter and John on the Sunday following the crucifixion.

            First of all, let’s think about this empty tomb and where the disciples of Jesus preached about the resurrection. The preached this message first of all in Jerusalem, the very city where Jesus not only died and was buried, but where they claimed that He rose from the grave!

            If the body of Jesus was still in the tomb, then it would have been easy to prove that He did not rise from the dead. But that was not the case.

            You see, Pilate allowed the Jewish religious leaders to put a guard on the tomb, Roman soldiers, and there was a seal on the tomb that was not to be broken under penalty of Roman law!

            So, there is no way that the disciples of Jesus stole away the body. In fact, since the body of Jesus was gone, the Jewish religious leaders and these Roman soldiers were both in trouble.

            And we are told in Matthew 28:11-15, Now while they were going, behold, some of the guard came into the city and reported to the chief priests all the things that had happened. When they had assembled with the elders and consulted together, they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers, saying, ‘Tell them, “His disciples came at night and stole Him away while we slept.” And if this comes to the governor’s ears, we will appease him and make you secure.’ So they took the money and did as they were instructed; and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day.

            They could not deny that the tomb was empty so, instead of believing that Jesus rose from the dead, they made up a lie and that lie that continued in those days, and it is still continuing today, but it is a LIE!

            So, if the tomb was not empty, then any proclamation by the disciples of Jesus “could not have been maintained in Jerusalem for a single day, for a single hour, if the emptiness of the tomb had not been established as a fact for all concerned.” (Paul Althaus)

            Now some may argue that we have no real proof that the tomb was empty. That is not true.

            The Toledoth Jesu, a compilation of early Jewish writings, acknowledges that the tomb was empty, and they try to explain it away. They don’t believe Jesus rose from the grave, but they were sure the tomb was empty!

            Not only that but there is a record of a second century debate between a Christian and a Jew regarding the empty tomb and the Jews claimed the body was stolen. So, we see that the tomb was empty.

            Keep in mind these writings were not done by Christians but by those who were hostile to Christianity and they in no way were supporting Christianity and the resurrection. So, hostile witnesses speaking of the tomb being empty is a pretty good witness!

            Dr. Paul Maier calls this “positive evidence from a hostile source. In essence, if a source admits a fact that is decidedly not in its favor, the fact is genuine.”
            Not only that but we have the eyewitness accounts of the women going to the tomb and Peter and John going to the tomb.

            Now let me focus for a minute on the women finding the tomb empty. When we read this today we don’t think much of it, but it was a big deal.
            The testimony of women in the first century was considered worthless. And Craig puts it like this for us, “if the empty tomb story were a legend, then it is most likely that the male disciples would have been made the first to discover the empty tomb. The fact that despised women, whose testimony was deemed worthless, were the chief witnesses to the fact of the empty tomb can only be plausibly explained if, like it or not, they actually were the discoverers of the empty tomb.”

             I hope that makes sense to you!

            And if the disciples of Jesus stole the body, which they would have to get past the Roman soldiers who were guarding the tomb, break the seal, move a one-ton stone from the door and take the body of Jesus, what was the point?

            Now some may argue, “To keep the story of Jesus going!” But that is foolishness. Why would you do that to keep a lie going? You wouldn’t. And if you look at how the apostles died for their faith in Christ, if this was a lie that they knew was a lie, you would think that at least one of them would have recanted the story of the resurrection. But they didn’t because Jesus did rise from the grave on the third day!

            The next point we can look at to validate the resurrection of Jesus is that Jesus’ disciples had a real experience with one whom they believed was the risen Christ.

            We have recorded for us that on the evening of His resurrection Jesus appeared to 10 of his disciples and then, eight days later to 11 of them, including Thomas this time. We see Jesus appear to over 500 at one time.

            So, we have eyewitness testimony of the resurrection of Jesus. Now some may argue that they were lying, as I spoke of earlier. But if they were lying, why did they die a martyr’s death for a lie. That makes no sense at all. Yes, people will die for causes they believe to be true, but not for a lie, not all of them except for John who died of natural causes!

            There are those who believe that they all hallucinated that Jesus resurrected from the grave. That is one powerful bowl of Matzo ball soup if each one of them hallucinated this! And everyone had the same hallucination? Come on, get real!

            Also, the hallucination theory is untenable because it cannot explain the physical nature of the appearances. The disciples record eating and drinking with Jesus, as well as touching him. This cannot be done with hallucinations.

            And again, they all had the same hallucination, not reasonable!

            And let’s think this through because the most significant aspect to this theory and how it can’t be true, is that it cannot even deal with the evidence for the empty tomb.

            The only logical conclusion we can come to is that the tomb is empty because Jesus did rise from the grave, it really happened!
            And lastly, as a result of the preaching of these disciples of Jesus, which had the resurrection at its center, the Christian church was established and grew!

            This was not some later addition to the faith as the stories grew about Jesus and were embellished upon. William Lane Craig wrote, “Since the belief in the resurrection was itself the foundation for Christianity, it cannot be explained as the later product of Christianity.”

            No, the resurrection of Jesus was at the center of their teaching and it should remain that way today!

            So, we see that if the resurrection did not happen, there is no plausible way to account for the origin of the Christian faith.

            To sum this up, one writer put it like this,

            I believe that the resurrection is the most important truth in the world. It has far reaching implications on our lives.

            First, the resurrection proves that the claims Jesus made about himself are true. What did Jesus claim? He claimed to be God. One might say, “I don’t believe that He claimed to be God, because I don’t believe the Bible.” But the fact is that even if we take only the passages which skeptical scholars admit as authentic, it can still be shown that Jesus claimed to be God. . . . Now, if Jesus had stayed dead in the tomb, it would be foolish to believe this claim. But since He rose from the dead, it would be foolish not to believe it. The resurrection proves that what Jesus said about Himself is true - He is fully God and fully man.

            Second, have you ever wondered what reasons there are to believe in the Bible? Is there good reason to believe that it was inspired by God, or is it simply a bunch of interesting myths and legends? The resurrection of Jesus answers the question. If Jesus rose from the dead, then we have seen this validates His claim to be God. If He is God, He speaks with absolute certainty and final authority. Therefore, what Jesus said about the Bible must be true. Surely you are going to accept the testimony of one who rose from the dead over the testimony of a skeptical scholar who will one day die himself - without being able to raise himself on the third day. What did Jesus say about the Bible? He said that it was inspired by God and that it cannot error. I will accept the testimony of Jesus over what I would like to be true and over the opinions of other men and women. Therefore I believe that the Bible is inspired by God, without error. Don’t get misled by the numerous skeptical and unbelieving theories about the Bible. Trust Jesus - He rose from the dead.

            Third, many people are confused by the many different religions in the world. Are they all from God? But on a closer examination we see that they cannot all be from God, because they all contradict each other. They cannot all be true any more than 2+2 can equal both 4 and 5 at the same time. For example, Christianity is the only religion that believes Jesus Christ is both God and man. All other religions say that he was a good man only - and not God. Clearly, both claims cannot be right! Somebody is wrong. How are we to know which religion is correct? By a simple test: which religion gives the best evidence for its truth? In light of Christ’s resurrection, I think that Christianity has the best reasons behind it.

            Jesus is the only religious leader who has risen from the dead. All other religious leaders are still in their tombs. Who would you believe? I think the answer is clear: Jesus’ resurrection demonstrates that what He said was true. Therefore, we must accept his statement to be the only way to God: “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, except through me” (John 14:6).

            Fourth, the resurrection of Christ proves that God will judge the world one day. The apostle Paul said, “God is now declaring to men that all everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.” The resurrection of Christ proves something very personal and significant to each of us - we will have to give an account of ourselves to a holy God. And if we are honest with ourselves, we will have to admit that we do not measure up to his standard. We are sinful, and therefore deserve to be condemned at His judgment.

            Which leads to our fifth point. The resurrection of Christ provides genuine hope for eternal life. Why? Because Jesus says that by trusting in Him, we will be forgiven of our sins and thereby escape being condemned at the judgment. The NT doesn’t just tell us that Christ rose from the dead and leave us wondering why He did this. It answers that He did this because we are sinners. And because we have sinned, we are deserving of God’s judgment. Since God is just, He cannot simply let our sins go. The penalty for our sins must be paid.

            The good news is that God, out of His love, became man in Jesus Christ in order to pay the penalty for sinners. On the cross, Jesus died in the place of those who would come to believe in Him. He took upon Himself the very death that we deserve. The apostle Paul says “He was delivered up because of our sins.” But the apostle Paul goes on to say “He was raised to life because of our justification.” Paul is saying that Christ’s resurrection proves that His mission to conquer sin was successful. His resurrection proves that He is a Savior who is not only willing, but also able, to deliver us from the wrath of God that is coming on the day of judgment. The forgiveness that Jesus died and rose to provide is given to those who trust in Him for salvation and a happy future.

            . . . The Bible says that Christ’s resurrection is the pattern that those who believe in Him will follow. In other words, those who believe in Christ will one day be resurrected by God just as He was. . . . The resurrection proves . . . that our bodies will be resurrected one day. . . .



            Look at Jesus, look at the finished work on the cross of Calvary for our sins. Look at His resurrection from the grave.

            It is as Paul said in I Corinthians 15:20-28, But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming. Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be destroyed is death. For ‘He has put all things under His feet.’ But when He says ‘all things are put under Him,’ it is evident that He who put all things under Him is excepted. Now when all things are made subject to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all.

            LOOK AT JESUS!



            Now we are going to look at Jonah and what a story it is. As we have seen, the resurrection did happen, the tomb is empty, and we do have the forgiveness of sins, death has no power over us!

            And that is what Jesus is pointing to here when He speaks of the prophet Jonah.

            Remember the story of Jonah. God had called Jonah to go to Nineveh and preach to the people there of the coming judgment because of their sin. But instead of obeying the Lord he fled to Tarshish.

            To get there he got on a boat and set sail for this city that was in the opposite direction you might say of where God wanted him to go. Then a storm came upon the ship and it was taking on water and the crew was fearful and they cast lots to see who had brought this upon them.

            Guess who the lot fell on? You got it, the lot fell on Jonah and they asked him who he was, what people was he from. And he told them that he was a Hebrew and he feared the Lord. And we are told what happened next.

            In Jonah 1:10-12, Then the men were exceedingly afraid, and said to him, ‘Why have you done this?’ For the men knew that he fled from the presence of the Lord, because he had told them. Then they said to him, ‘What shall we do to you that the sea may be calm for us?’ - for the sea was growing more tempestuous. And he said to them, Pick me up and throw me into the sea; then the sea will become calm for you. For I know that this great tempest is because of me.’

            At first they did not want to do this but they finally gave in and threw him overboard and immediately the storm ceased! Everything is great as Jonah is floating in the water and then this great fish comes and swallow’s Jonah and he is in the belly of this great fish for three days and three nights! Then he is spewed out of this great fish’s mouth and onto the shore and he goes to Nineveh where he does speak to them of the coming judgment hoping that they would not repent because these people were wicked. But they did and God spared His judgment from coming upon these people!

            What in the world does this have to do with Jesus? Jonah was a picture of the work of Jesus and this is how it is played out. Jonah gave his life to appease the wrath of God coming upon others, these men in the boat. In a sense he was dead as the fish swallowed him up. But death did not hold him; after three days and nights of imprisonment in the belly of this great fish he was alive and free. This is a glorious picture of Jesus in an unexpected place and it shows to us the resurrection.

            You see, just as Jonah was three days and nights in the belly of the great fish, so too will be the Messiah in the belly of the earth, and then He will rise again!

            It was during that time that Jesus preached to those Old Testament saints who died believing in the coming Messiah, by faith, and now they have received Him. Keep in mind that prior to the death and resurrection of Jesus all who died went to Sheol. And in Sheol there were two compartments, one for those who died out of the faith and were tormented. The other side was Abraham’s bosom, and they were comforted until the Messiah came and set them free! Now the only part of Sheol occupied is the one for those who die rejecting the Messiah, for all believers go to be with the Lord when they die.

            Let me ask you another question. Do you believe that Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish? Many deny that today. They can’t believe it is true. One writer put it like this in regard to those who deny Jonah was swallowed by a great fish. He wrote,

            Some critics who do not want to reject altogether the story of Jonah, suppose that it may have had some historical basis, though in the form we have it today is fanciful and mythical. Another critic regards it as a dream Jonah had in the ship. Still another critic views the book

as an historical allegory, descriptive of the fate of Manasseh, and Josiah his grandson. What wild fancy this critic indulged in may be seen from the fact that he compared the ship to the Jewish monarchy, while the casting away of Jonah symbolized the temporary captivity of Manasseh!

            Many critics treat it as an allegory based upon the Phoenician myth of Hercules and the sea-monster. To quote a few more, simply to show what foolish things the darkened mind of man, who thinks he has attained scholarship, can invent in order to disprove the truth of God, we

mention the theory that when Jonah was thrown into the sea he was picked up by a ship having for a figurehead the head of a great fish. Another one says that probably Jonah took refuge in the interior of a dead whale which was floating about near the spot he was cast overboard.

            The great majority of the critics today deny the historicity of the book of Jonah and claim that its material has been derived from popular legends, that it is fiction with a moral design. The moral lessons and its religious meaning have even a wider range than these hypotheses. The

theories do not merit a special refutation [reproof]. (THE Prophet Jonah, Arno C. Gaebeleinn, 1861-1942)



            There is a huge problem if you want to deny this event because if you deny this then you have to deny the resurrection of Jesus!

            So it is a big deal! Now think about this for a minute. Jesus believed in the literal account of Jonah and if He didn’t why would He use it as an illustration of His resurrection? He wouldn’t!

            In fact, the resurrection was really the last sign that Jesus gave to show the world that He is the Messiah and it is this sign from heaven that they would receive and yet they still refused to believe! So just as Jonah was three days in the belly of the great fish so too will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the belly of the earth. Then what? The resurrection! The tomb is empty not on day two, or day five, or day ten, but on the third day. And to the Jew this was important because on the fourth day they believe that the dead body was corrupted, but for Jesus, He rose from the grave on the third day just as the Scriptures tell us.

            Remember what Peter said in Acts 2 on the Day of Pentecost, Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know - Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death; whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it. For David says concerning Him: ‘I foresaw the Lord always before my face, For He is at my right hand, that I may not be shaken. Therefore my heart rejoiced, and my tongue was glad; Moreover my flesh also will rest in hope. For You will not leave my soul in Hades, Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption. You have made known to me the ways of life; You will make me full of joy in Your presence.’ Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Therefore, being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that of the fruit of his body, according to the flesh, He would raise up the Christ to sit on his throne, he, foreseeing this, spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that His soul was not left in Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption. This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses. Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear. Acts 2:22-33.

            This is the greatest sign that Jesus has given to us showing us that He is the Messiah, THE RESURRECTION! And in knowing this fact, the resurrection, when a person is confronted with the living Christ and with His atoning death and resurrection, the matter of that person’s eternal destiny is determined.

            And that will bring us to our last point because there are those who hear of the resurrection of Jesus, and they just refuse to believe it even though the evidence is overwhelming.


VERSES 38, 41-42

            We need to keep in mind that the Scribes and the Pharisees were not sincere in asking Jesus to show them a sign. They once again were trying to catch Jesus and discredit Him amongst His followers.

            And to call Jesus Teacher was sarcastic in nature. Why do I say that? Because the Scribes and the Pharisees were the teachers of the Law and no one else could teach them, they were not qualified to. At least in their minds that is what they thought. So the idea here in demanding a sign was to show Jesus as a false teacher!

            And here come these Scribes and Pharisees and ask, Teacher, we want to see a sign from You. It is just a crazy question because what more did they need to see so that they would believe that He is the Messiah? His whole life was a sign that He is the Messiah. There is absolutely nothing else that He could do that would convince them because their hearts were hard and cold towards Jesus. This just tells me they were not sincere in what they were saying but again trying to discredit Jesus in front of the people.

            Now we are not told what sign they were looking for, but it had to be something big and I am sure they thought He could never do it in their minds. But by chance that He could they would once again say that Jesus is doing this by the power of Satan and not of God. Either case was going to be a win for them, or so they thought.

            And even today people are looking for a sign. “God show me you are real!” “God if you are real do this!” “God if you are real do that!” And the list goes on. The problem for people today is that they are not looking. They just want to get out of a jam and once that jam is over they will be right back to their own ways. And think about it, there are signs everywhere pointing that there is a God and people have made up their minds and they don’t see them!

            What do I mean by that? Simply, the Psalmist said in Psalm 19:1, The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork.

            David is saying that as you look at and study creation you will clearly see that this did not happen by random chance, there is a designer, there is a creator, there is a God! When you look at just the size of the universe, it is overwhelming, some 12 billion light years and maybe even bigger than that, we are not sure!

            And just look at the sun, for example, it has a diameter of 864,000 miles (one hundred times that of earth’s) and could hold 1.3 million planets the size of earth inside of it.

            The star Betelgeuse, however, has a diameter of 100 million miles, which is larger than the earth’s orbit around the sun. It takes sunlight, traveling at 186,000 miles per second, about 8.5 seconds to reach earth. Yet that same light would take more than four years to reach the nearest star, Alpha Centauri, some 24 trillion miles from earth.

            The galaxy to which our sun belongs, the Milky Way, contains hundreds of billions of stars. And astronomers estimate there are millions, or even billions of galaxies. What they can see leads them to estimate the number of stars in the universe at 1025. That is roughly the number of all the grains of sand on all the world’s beaches.

            Max Planck, winner of the Nobel Prize and one of the founders of modern physics, wrote, “According to everything taught by the exact sciences about the immense realm of nature, a certain order prevails – one independent of the human mind . . . this order can be formulated in terms of purposeful activity. There is evidence of an intelligent order of the universe to which both man and nature are subservient” And that is just the heavens!

            And thus, David is saying that creation itself is crying out that there is a designer, there is a creator, for you only have to look and listen at what creation is trying to show you. In fact, Paul, in Romans chapter 1, tells us that those that suppress this truth, the truth that nature is showing them that there is a God, this truth that God has revealed to them through His creation, will be judged accordingly, they are without excuse for nature testifies of the existence of God. (Romans 1:18-23).

            So, signs are everywhere that there is a God and yet people refuse to believe. They would rather believe that there are aliens out there; I call them demons because that is exactly what they are. Imagine, believing in aliens instead of believing in a God who loves them so much that He died to pay in full the penalty for their sins!

            God has revealed Himself to us through His Word, the Bible. Faith comes by hearing and by hearing by the word of God! So, if you want to know who God is, who Jesus is, look at the Bible because God is revealing Himself to us through His Word.

            Yes, the heavens declare the glory of God, but His revelation is through His Word!

            Now as we get to verses 41 and 42 here in Matthew chapter 12, we see the Lord speak of judgment that is coming upon these Jewish religious leaders because of their unbelief.

            And make no mistake about it, that had to hurt! I think it hurt their pride, but it did not sink deep down into their heart so that they could see Jesus. The first point in regard to the judgment of these religious leaders is that the people of Nineveh repented at the preaching of Jonah, and yet, a greater than Jonah is before them, and the children of Israel refused to listen, they refused to see!

            Now we may miss how harsh these words were but keep in mind that the people of Nineveh were Gentiles and thus not part of God’s covenant and they were very wicked people. They were brutal, that is why Jonah did not want to go and warn them because Jonah knew that God would forgive them if they repented! And here is God’s Covenant people, the Jews and yet they refused to hear, they refused to see and God’s judgment was going to come upon them, they are dead in their trespasses and sins apart from Christ while these people from Nineveh are saved!

            And the same is true for people today. Imagine a murderer who repents of his sins and asks Christ to be Lord and Savior of His life getting into heaven and a very religious person who is working his way into heaven, does not!

            That is what Jesus is saying and it needs to be taken to heart. And I realize that many would be outraged at that kind of thinking, but don’t get mad at me, Jesus said it!

            The next point in regard to this judgment is seen with the Queen of Sheba. The Queen of Sheba traveled long distances to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and she received his words. Keep in mind that she traveled some 1,200 miles and they were very wealthy, very prosperous people and yet they came to hear the wisdom of Solomon. And keep in mind that this was not only a Gentile who came to hear Solomon, but a woman, a pagan and an Arab and she will sit in judgment of these Jewish religious leaders. Why is that? Because these religious leaders had before them a greater than Solomon and they rejected Him. Thus, they will be judged, condemned for their actions!

            Look at those who are seeking God and those who are not. The Lord is speaking to them but they are refusing to listen and thus, judgment is coming for those who have rejected Jesus!

            I like the way that Barclay sums this up. He wrote, “You are asking for a sign – I am God’s sign. You have failed to recognize me. The Ninevites recognized God’s warning in Jonah; the Queen of Sheba recognized God’s wisdom in Solomon.”

            What a warning for us in the days we are living in. You see, it is easy to come against the Jews and their rejection of the Messiah, but what about this generation? We have the Good News, the Gospel message, the love of God, and many still reject it, they don’t respond to it, and like these religious leaders of Jesus’ day, they too will be judged, they will be condemned for their actions! Religion does not save you – JESUS SAVES!

            As we have seen this morning, LOOK AT JESUS – He is risen and the resurrection is the greatest sign showing us that He is God who has come to pay in full the penalty for our sins. And as He conquered death, so we will one day!

            We saw that we are to LOOK AT JONAH – his three days and three nights spent in the belly of the great fish were a picture of what our Lord would do. He would be three days and three nights in the belly of the earth before He rose from the grave!

            And finally, LOOK AT YOU – what do you believe about Jesus? It is the most important question you can answer.

            You see, if He is not the Almighty God who came to save you from your sins, you are still dead in your trespasses and sins. If you refuse to repent of your sins and ask Jesus to be Lord and Savior of your life, you are still dead in your sins!

            Don’t harden your heart to God, be open and receive the gift of life that is found in Jesus and then live for Him!

            And for all of us who have come to that saving faith, may we rejoice in this wonderful gift that God has given to us. All signs point to Jesus as the Messiah, the One who rose from the grave and I not only believe that, but I live it! What about you?

            Let me close this morning with these words. We are told,

            A Mohammedan and a Christian were discussing their religions and had agreed that both Mohammed and Christ were prophets. Where, then, lay the difference? The Christian illustrated it this way: “I came to a crossroads and I saw a dead man and a living man. Which one did I ask for directions?” The response came quickly, “The living one, of course.” “Why, then,” asked his friend, “do you send me to Mohammed who is dead, instead of Christ who is alive?” This is the basic difference between Christ and every other religious leader. All the others came into the world, lived, and died - but none of them lived again. The resurrection of Christ was the one event that persuaded His disciples once for all that He was the Christ, God’s Son.

            - Illustrations of Bible Truths Copyright


            May you come to the Living Christ and rejoice in the life that He has given to you. And may we point people to the Living Christ for He alone can save!

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