Scripture: Luke 11:29-32
When the crowds were increasing, he began to say, “This generation is an evil generation. It seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah. For as Jonah became a sign to the people of Nineveh, so will the Son of Man be to this generation. The queen of the South will rise up at the judgment with the men of this generation and condemn them, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something greater than Solomon is here. The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here.
(Luke 11:29-32 ESV)
Sermon: "Seeking for Signs"
We’re reached an inevitable point in Linsanity. After his worst game of the season, we now have doubts about Jeremy Lin. Even before this game, people were calling up the sports radio station posing hypothetical trades for Jeremy Lin. We can dismiss this as a typical New York mentality, never being satisfied, always looking for something or someone better.
Yet, this treatment of Jeremy Lin is actually a picture of people in general. And it is not much different from the way the people in Jesus’ days treated Jesus. And this is the heart of the problem – Jesus is no more than a celebrity, a superstar.
Thus Jesus begins with a radical declaration: “This… is an evil generation.” What is more striking is when Jesus makes this declaration: when the crowds were increasing.” Jesus was not afraid to give an unpopular message. However, he had is reasons for doing so.
So what was the reason for Jesus making this declaration? The crowds looked for a sign. Why was this “evil”? It goes back to their motives.
The crowds may have just seen Jesus as the latest fad. They wanted more of this freak show. They saw him as a magician or healer. If he does this, I will believe. But then you add something else. Still others were outright skeptical about Jesus. Such was the case of the Pharisees and scribes. Peoples’ interest in Jesus may have actually been rooted in selfishness; you are trying to control God and be God.
Also, Jesus had already given numerous signs. Yet, people dismissed and rejected those signs. They kept asking for more. “This evil generation asks for a sign, thouh, now in the ministry of Jesus, the Kingdom of God has come upon them.”
We have received signs of God. Tim Keller refers to them as “Clues to God”. Some of us have been blessed in the providence of God. And I would say, if you want to see God work providentially, I would encourage you to not come out to Wednesday Prayer Meetings. But if you need God to work providentially in your life, do come out! But as for seeing more, what more do we really need to see? We want airtight arguments for God, yet we don’t really operate that way with anything else – this is evidence of disbelief.
Thus Jesus makes another radical declaration: no more signs will be given except the sign of Jonah. What is this? Two points: first, just as Jonah preached judgment, Jesus is preaching judgment. Second, Jesus is actually saying: “You want a sign, I’ll give you a sign.”
"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 ESV)
Jesus dying and rising from the dead is the greatest sign that we can receive. “An empty grave is there to prove my Savior lives.” Will you believe? As we reject signs of God, we condemn ourselves.
Thus, Jesus makes a third radical declaration, a declaration of condemnation.
"For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them." (Romans 1:18-19 ESV)
This condemnation will happen on the day of judgment. People of old will condemn them: the Queen of the south and the men of Ninevah. These people are Gentiles! They were not the chosen people. They saw less and yet they believed!
Church, do not be so comfortable! We’ve heard teachings over and over again. We have seen and heard testimonies about God. Christ has been presented perhaps all too plainly. And yet, we’re not satisfied. We doubt.
People around the world hear and respond with less! They do more with so much less. They don’t have Bibles accessible in different forms. They don’t have praise equipment or technology, or millions of sermons available to hear, Education Center or seminary teaching. Yet, they have Jesus. They believe him. And the Spirit moves powerfully among them. And they will die for him.
I believe that our greed and gluttony has affected us spiritually, and we need to repent. We have so much and we still want more. If we want more, let us not ask for more signs but more of Jesus, more of his Spirit. We have enough of the other things!
Some of us may need to repent and believe in Jesus – he has made himself plainly known. Stop your protests and arguing for the sake of arguing. Given what you know, do you believe?
Some of us really do believe but may have been shaken in our belief. Come to Jesus and be strengthened and encouraged.
This message of Jesus may be unpopular. But if the gospel is at the core of our being, let us not grow tired of preaching and living out this message. Jesus is calling us to turn and align our lives according to him. As we live lives of repentance, may we lead others in this generation to Jesus.