Reading the Word
Matthew 16:1–4 (ESV)
1 And the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and to test him they asked him to show them a sign from heaven. 2 He answered them, “When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’ 3 And in the morning, ‘It will be stormy today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. 4 An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah.” So he left them and departed.
Parallel Text: Mark 8:10-12
Understanding and Applying the Word
The Pharisees and Sadducees were not friends. They were at odds with each other over religious disputes. However, they agreed on one thing: they did not like Jesus! He had come and undermined all of their authority by teaching things that went against their own teaching. So, in order to put Jesus in his place, they came to ask for a sign from heaven. Such a sign would validate that Jesus had the authority to say the things he was saying. How many signs did they need? Jesus had been performing many. The crowds were certainly aware of them!
Jesus’ response to the religious leaders was that he would not perform a sign for them. The only sign they would receive would be “the sign of Jonah.” Jesus had said the same thing earlier in Matthew 12:40, where he also gave more information about what he meant by this statement. There he said:
“For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” (Matthew 12:40)
So, Jesus was referring to his death and resurrection as the sign that all people would receive.
Think about this: Jesus died and rose from the dead! What other sign is needed? In his resurrection, Jesus showed that he is who he claimed to be and he has the authority he claimed to have. He has the power to grant eternal life to all who believe and the authority to judge sin. Those who seek further signs do so out of hardness of heart. We have been given the greatest sign that could be given: a risen Lord!
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