By Elizabeth Prata
In Matthew 12:22-37, Jesus is teaching. The crowds had begun to swarm around Him. He had made a blind man see and mute man talk. The crowds were beginning to wonder if Jesus was indeed the promised Son of David. Of course, the proud Pharisees and scribes who were on hand did not like to hear that. They tried to dismiss the sovereign divine power of Jesus by claiming he casts out satan by satan.
Jesus replied with his famous teaching, that a divided house cannot stand, and if He drives out satan by satan, who did they drive out satan by? He went on for many verses with a teaching and a warning and reminders to this evil group of religious non-believers. He spoke of the unforgivable sin. He warned, He said by their words they will be justified…or condemned.
The Pharisees and scribes replied, replied, yeah, yeah, but we want a sign.
Then some of the scribes and Pharisees said to Him, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from You.” (Matthew 12:38)
Doesn’t it drive you crazy when your teenager replies with “Whatever…” to a heartfelt message from you in love and discipline? I was warning a student in the lunch room the other day to behave and he simply shrugged with one shoulder. Couldn’t even be bothered to say ‘whatever’, but just sloughed off my warning with a one-shoulder shrug.
That’s the Pharisees and scribes here. Discontent, selfish teenagers shrugging, demanding, and oblivious to how close to the edge of disaster they were. “We want…” Yeah, whatever the unforgivable sin is, hey listen, we want a sign. PROVE you are who you say you are.
O, woe to them!
They already had signs. Many verses in Isaiah promised that the blind will see, the mute will speak. Here is Isaiah 42:7, for example, To open blind eyes, To bring out prisoners from the dungeon And those who dwell in darkness from the prison. These Pharisees and scribes where worse off than the blind man who had been healed, because theirs was a spiritual blindness!
The responses to Jesus were varied but repeated over and over. Some wanted Jesus for what He could do for them. Feed me, heal me, give me. Others like the Pharisees, scribes, and Saduccees, were religiously blind, or greedily attached to the world (like the Rich Young Ruler) and rejected Him out of pride. Others believed. In the end, many left Jesus when the gimme dried up and they were only left with “hard sayings.” (John 6:60, 66).
The most wonderful thing we can do is love Jesus for who He is and because He is who He says He is. Jesus is beautiful, but we will never understand that before we are saved and we’re awash with spiritual blindness. Jesus gives, yes, because He loves. He allows the rain to fall on the justified and the unjustified. He created this world for humans, and those who are saved and those who aren’t are living on it and enjoying its benefits. This is common grace. But the special grace we receive post-salvation allows us to behold Jesus for Himself, glorious, compassionate, powerful, loving, and just. Above all He is holy and He makes us holy by His Spirit.
Don’t underestimate the depths of sin that allows a person sunk in his sin to reply to all that, “Yeah, whatever. I demand a sign…”