The Pharisees are accusing Jesus of blasphemy because he says he forgives sins, he associates with sinners and now he casts out demons and no priest, prophet or king has done such a thing. It is not in line with the Scriptures. He is leading people astray and so must be stopped. Their interpretation of Scripture said He was a deceiver.
“Then some of the Pharisees and teachers of the law said to him, ‘Teacher, we want to see a sign from you.’ He answered, ‘A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now something greater than Jonah is here. The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon’s wisdom, and now something greater than Solomon is here.” (Matthew 12 v 38-42)
They wanted to know whether Jesus was genuine. The answer Jesus gave helps us in working out whether someone is genuine.
- Can you see the cross? Jesus is greater than Jonah. The story of Jonah is someone who ran away from being obedient to God in preaching to Nineveh and suffered the consequences of that. Jesus ran towards obedience and surrendered his life on the cross. Can you see a cross in the person? Have they a surrendered heart? Are they living for others? Do they love?
- Can you see self-awareness? The people of Nineveh are greater than the generation of Jesus. The reluctant preacher, Jonah, didn’t give it his best, but the people did fast, repent and brought change to their lives. Albeit a temporary change it was better than the complete rejection of Jesus. Can you see self-awareness in the person? Are they wanting to be a better person or are they the finished article?
- Can you see the pursuit of wisdom? Jesus is greater than Solomon. The Queen of the South pursued Solomon’s wisdom (1 Kings 10) and yet a greater wisdom is standing in front of these blind Pharisees. What matters the most, accolades or chasing after Christ? Can you see the battle within that person as they carry more questions than glib answers? Do they seek the character of Christ and not just their ‘calling’? Do they seek Him?