Defend The Faith Ministry

What Sign Are You Looking For?

So often we reduce the words of Jesus down to the happy platitudes that fit nicely on a wall plaque. They tend to focus on His words of love and mercy, things that certainly embody who Jesus is. Those are great reminders of the compassion of Jesus, but if we limit our understanding of Jesus to only His words of compassion, we tend to overlook some of the harder things Jesus said. He had very strong words for those who rejected Him. And He addressed some very tough subjects, things we are prone to ignore.

In Matthew 12, the Pharisees approached Jesus and said, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from You.” However, they are asking this immediately after Jesus had cast a demon out of a man who had been blind and mute. The man was now demon-free and able to see and speak, something the crowd could attest to as they were all amazed at the miracle performed in front of them.

But at this point in His ministry, Jesus had already cast out demons multiple times, healed the sick, raised the dead back to life, and fed the five thousand. Exactly what kind of sign were the Pharisees looking for?

In response to their question, Jesus said, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For 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.” To understand this better, we must understand what happened with the prophet Jonah, something Jesus clearly recognized as a factual event.

Jonah lived during the reign of King Jeroboam II of Israel between 792 and 753 B.C. (2 Kings 14:24-25). God called Jonah to go preach a message of repentance to the city of Nineveh, the capital city of the Assyrian empire. The Assyrians rose to power around 900 B.C. and they were horribly brutal, even known for skinning captives alive. And it was the Assyrian empire that God used 200 years later to conquer the Northern Kingdom of Israel.

It is no wonder that Jonah doesn’t want to go to this city to preach repentance. Not only does he have great reason to fear the Assyrians, especially as the main enemy of the nation of Israel, but Jonah doesn’t exactly want them to have an opportunity to repent. Jonah knows that God is a merciful God, and he thinks the Assyrians don’t deserve mercy. Jonah wanted the Assyrians to be judged by God, and judged harshly.

Therefore, in response to God’s call to be a missionary to the cruelest reigning empire, Jonah takes a ship in the opposite direction, toward Spain. While on the way, God brings about a terrible storm that frightens everyone on board the ship – except for Jonah. He’s chill about the storm because he knows it’s all because of him. He even instructs the sailors to throw him overboard so that the storm would calm down. And it did.

Then God prepared a great fish to swallow Jonah, only to then have it spit Jonah back out after three days. 

How can that be though? Should we investigate what kind of fish could swallow a person and keep them alive in their belly for three days? Do we need to analyze the digestive habits of large aquatic animals? No. God did this the same way He created the animals in the first place; the same way He fed the five thousand; the same way He raised people from the dead. There are no “natural laws” that restrict what God wants to do. So if God wants a fish to hold a human in its belly for three days and spit it back onto dry land, then that can happen. After all, as Gabriel told Mary in Luke 1:37, “For with God nothing will be impossible.”

Now we finally get to the sign that Jesus is referring to. “For 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.” The Pharisees wanted a sign; this was the sign Jesus said they would have.

But Jesus really addresses the heart of their question much further than that. In the next several verses He describes how the men of Nineveh, along with the Queen of Sheba, would rise up and judge the Pharisees and their generation. What does that even mean?

When the lone prophet Jonah came and preached repentance to the wicked, brutal Assyrians in the city of Nineveh, they listened and repented. When the Queen of Sheba visited Solomon, she was amazed by the glory of God because of Solomon’s wisdom. The Ninevites and the Queen were in contact with humans – sinful, weak, and finite humans. Yet they were able to still see the message and the power of the Almighty God working through these humans.

But here we find the Pharisees standing in front of God Himself, who has come down in human flesh, and they are unmoved by Him. They hear the authoritative teachings of Jesus, and they are unchanged by Him. They witness Jesus doing things that only God could do – raising the dead, healing the sick, making the blind see, making the lame walk, demonstrating power over nature, casting out demons – and yet they ask for a sign. What else could possibly be done in front of them for them to believe? Exactly what kind of sign were they looking for?

Jesus even addressed this earlier in Matthew 11:20-24: “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes….And you, Capernaum, who are exalted to heaven, will be brought down to Hades; for if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.”

Jesus is saying the cities of Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum are worse and will be judged worse than Sodom, the city that God destroyed by fire, because God Himself is in their midst working these miracles, yet they cannot open their eyes to see it. If works like that would have been done in Tyre, Sidon, or Sodom, they would have repented! What new sign could the Pharisees have possibly been looking for that had not already been done? What other prophet would they listen to if they refused to listen to the message from God Himself?

It is an appropriate question in our culture today. We explain that only an intelligent source could put information into our genetic code, or that life cannot spring forth from nonliving things, or that the universe has a beginning that requires a cause, but we are told that is not sufficient evidence for a God. What kind of evidence would suffice then? What kind of evidence are they looking for?

It is something that should certainly be asked in a conversation with an atheist: what evidence would you find acceptable to show that God exists? Will they be like the Ninevites who repented at the message of Jonah? Or would they be like the Pharisees, who, though God was standing in front of them working miraculous signs, demanded to see a sign. No wonder Jesus called them an evil and adulterous generation. Are we any different?

Cathryn Sterling

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4 thoughts on “What Sign Are You Looking For?”

  1. O, I love that. “So, Mr. Dawkins how much is enough?” Richard Dawkins replied, “Just one miracle more.”

  2. There are so many verses that you won’t see preached in our watered-down Western churches – thank you, Cathryn, for showing these!

    Given how God judged Sodom & Gomorrah, how much worse will He judge America when our LGBTQP idolatry makes S&G look like saints by comparison. Now, let’s look at another verse you won’t hear in most churches:

    “It would be better for him to have a millstone hung around his neck and to be thrown into the sea than to cause one of these little ones to stumble.” – Jesus Christ (Luke 17:2, BSB. Other versions have ” to sin” at the end.)

    What does this mean? Some say it is punishment for leading our Brothers and Sisters into sin. Others, like myself, take the main and plain option and believe that it is punishment for either leading children into sin and / or sinning against children. Certainly, the latter is a serious offense against God. What are some ways that we are doing this right now?

    1. We are sacrificing to false idols nearly a million children each year in the womb. Nearly half the country supports this. One political party supports it up to birth for any and all reasons. The other political party refuses to call abortion “murder” and “child sacrifice,” and refuses to abolish and criminalize it, like God does. What did God do to the Canaanites?

    2. We are transgendering thousands upon thousands of children each year with very little resistance from the Church, much less words from the pulpits, and full support of our sick and depraved culture. Like abortion, this is surely an offense against children that is unthinkable by God. (Google “the one unthinkable sin by God.”)

    3. We stand by in silence while men dressed like whores perform at Drag Queen Story Hour in the presence of children, grooming those children for pedophilia and entry into the LGBTQP “community.”

    4. We almost never preach on sodomy. We are almost ashamed of our God wiping out Sodom & Gomorrah, not realizing that it was God’s Love for His people that wiped out the wicked. It always is. Many of the churches have actually capitulated to the Alphabet Mafia. That is NOT going to go over well on Judgment Day.

    5. We watch as millions of children are forced to take an experimental gene therapy that is NOT a vaccine, and a percentage of these children die, have heart attacks, develop myocarditis and pericarditis. Those who survive often have their futures destroyed. The few heroic children who resist the jab are mocked and cut out from “decent” society. Some of us virtue signal this violation of the Nuremberg Code as “loving our neighbors as ourselves.” This is a Luke 17:2 offense or worse. All crimes against humanity and God are.

    6. We abuse children by sending them to government indoctrination centers (public schools) that teach them sodomy, transgenderism, abortion, and macro-evolution. Some people actually think they can be “Christians” and abuse little innocent-minded children by teaching them these things.

    All of these things are “legal” by man’s laws, but not in God’s Court. Now, back to Luke 17:2. What is this saying about people who engage in the sorts of things that I listed in 1-6, or even support it? Well, it does NOT say that Jesus is going to put a millstone around their neck and toss them into the sea. It says that they will WISH He had. Jesus is not going to annihilate anyone. He is going to send those who prey on children to Hell and unleash His full and Holy Wrath on them forever and ever. They will be begging for a millstone, but none will be forthcoming.

    Does your pastor preach on this? Do we not all have family and friends who support the forms of child abuse listed in 1-6? Do we think that they will somehow get a free pass into Heaven when they support these forms of extreme unimaginable wickedness just because they call themselves “Christian?” Our family and friends are “nice, civil” people, right? They don’t torture beagles to death like Doktor Fauci did, do they? They don’t experiment with aborted children and mice like he did, do they?

    And yet, they support the very things that Jesus Christ Himself says are Luke 17:2 offenses, or worse. Do we warn them of what Hell will be like for them? The churches don’t. Jesus isn’t messing around. Lots of “nice, civil” people are in Hell, and many are getting the Luke 17:2 treatment, and, whatever that might be, it’s way worse than having a millstone tied around our necks and being tossed into the sea. As for the lukewarm, that’s another verse not preached. Look it up.
    Pass this onto your pastor, please.

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