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Matthew 12:38-50

Give Me A Sign

  • Matthew Dodd
  • Weekend Messages
  • December 9, 2018

When faced with big decisions, wouldn’t it be great if God gave us visible signs to show us who to trust, who to marry, or where to work? Or when it comes to matters of faith, wouldn’t it be great if God gave us a sign so that we knew for sure that certain things were true, like Jesus really is the Savior of the world?
We will study a powerful passage from Matthew 12 that will show just that, that Jesus is the Savior of the world because God did give a sign, one that is worthy of our complete trust.

  • Sermon Notes

Give Me A Sign

Matthew 12:38-50


1.When faced with big decisions, wouldn’t it be great if God gave us visible signs to show us who to trust, who to marry, or where to work?

ILLUS – The visible presence of God leading Israel through the wilderness (Numbers 9)

2.Or when it comes to matters of faith, wouldn’t it be great if God gave us a sign so that we knew for sure that certain things were true, like Jesus really is the Savior of the world?

3.Tonight, we will study a powerful passage from Matthew 12 that will show just that, that Jesus is the Savior of the world because God did give a sign, one that is worthy of our complete trust.

Matthew 12:38-50


1.At this point, you could feel the tension in the air for the Pharisees had the audacity to declare that Jesus casted out demons by Beelzebul, the ruler of the demons, and not by the power of the Holy Spirit. (24)

2.They had heard Jesus’ teachings, the authority and wisdom of His words.

3.They also saw lepers cleansed, the blind gaining sight, the deaf able to hear, the lame walking beside them, and the demon-possessed delivered.

4.Nevertheless, they concluded that this was the work of the devil, not the work of the Holy Spirit, credentials from hell, not proof that Jesus is the King of God’s kingdom.

5.Jesus rebuked them because they had crossed a line, one that has eternal consequences. Unconcerned by the warning, the scribes and Pharisees came back with a request, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from You.” (38)

Transition – It’s easy to gloss over the scribes and Pharisees’ request and miss the personal application. When it comes to Jesus…

I. Are You Looking for a Sign or for an Excuse?

Their request implied that the previous miraculous signs of Jesus were not good enough.

They needed a really “good sign” so that Jesus might prove who He is to them.

In response, Jesus said two things, one about them and the other about their request.

First, that they were an “evil and adulterous generation” because Israel was morally bankrupt and had forsaken their covenant with God by rejecting His Son, Jesus.

Second, that no sign would be given but the sign of the prophet Jonah.

Let’s look at each part of His answer and discover important applications for our lives.

A. “Signs” are for those who lack faith

ILLUS – “I’m going to be a lawyer not a pastor!”

1.It’s important to note that in the Bible, a sign was either a supernatural event which confirmed or proved what God was saying or it was something that reminded Israel of God’s power and presence.

2.For instance, when God called Moses to deliver the nation of Israel from slavery in Egypt, Moses was concerned that the people would not believe that God had sent him. So, God gave Moses signs to bear witness that it was God who had called him. Moses was lacking faith!

Exodus 4:8-9, If they will not believe you or heed the witness of the first sign, they may believe the witness of the last sign. But if they will not believe even these two signs or heed what you say, then you shall take some water from the Nile and pour it on the dry ground; and the water which you take from the Nile will become blood on the dry ground.

3.When God called Gideon to be a deliverer for Israel, he lacked faith, so he asked for a sign.

Judges 6:17, So Gideon said to Him, “If now I have found favor in Your sight, then show me a sign that it is You who speak with me.”

4.Now when we look at Matthew 12, it’s critical to see that the Pharisees never intended to believe any sign that Jesus gave.

a.They were not looking for a reason to believe, they were looking for a reason to not believe.

b. Actually, they were looking for another reason to accuse Jesus of using His demonic power to deceive Israel into thinking He was the King of God’s kingdom.

5.The other problem is that they were demanding a sign of their choosing and while rejecting the signs of God’s choosing.

APPL – Do people do this today? Yes, there are some who come up with tests of their choosing that demand God to prove who He is to them.

APPL – But the Word of God gives us better examples to follow, examples of faith, regardless of the circumstances.

Habakkuk 3:17-19, Though the fig tree should not blossom
and there be no fruit on the vines, though the yield of the olive should fail and the fields produce no food, though the flock should be cut off from the fold and there be no cattle in the stalls, yet I will exult in the Lord, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation. The Lord God is my strength…

B.The greatest of all signs is the sign of Jonah

1.In verse 39, Jesus said, “no sign will be given to it but the sign of Jonah the prophet”.

2.Jesus said that as Jonah was three days and nights in the belly of the sea monster, so shall the Son of Man be three days and nights in the heart of the earth. (40)

3.In other words, Jonah’s experience pointed to the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ!

4.Therefore, the resurrection of Jesus is proof that Jesus is God’s Son and that all that Jesus promised and proclaimed is true. So, all who believe in His name will have the forgiveness of sins and the gift of eternal life!

5.The greatest of all signs is the sign of Jonah.

1 Corinthians 15:14, 17, 20, … and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain. … and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins… But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep.

APPL – The question for us all is, what will you do with the sign that God provided? Will you believe or say, “It’s not good enough?”

C. Don’t be a sign of unbelief

1.Jesus used two examples/witnesses for us to consider, people who received the evidence of God’s Word and responded by faith.

2.The first example was that of the great Assyrian city of Nineveh. The people repented at the preaching of Jonah; but Jesus said, “something greater than Jonah is here.” (41) What did Jesus mean by that statement?

a.Jonah was a rebellious, minor prophet. Jesus was the true Prophet of God.

b.Jonah was a sinful man. Jesus was the sinless Son of Man.

c.Jonah despised the people of Nineveh. Jesus came to “seek and save the lost”. (Luke 19:10)

d.Jonah proclaimed a message of doom. Jesus proclaimed a Gospel of grace.

e.Only one sign came through Jonah. Signs too numerous to record were done through Jesus. (John 21:25)

f.The Gentiles repented at the preaching of a Jewish minor prophet, but Israel rejected their own Messiah and did not receive His message of grace. Therefore, the people of Nineveh will testify against Israel on Judgment Day because they rejected the message and miracles God’s Son!

3.Then there is the Queen of the South. According to 1 Kings 10, she heard of King Solomon’s fame and travelled a great distance to meet him and see if what was said about him was true. She brought gifts. She humbled herself and received the wisdom of God as Solomon spoke to her and answered her questions.

a.Solomon was a great king, but Jesus is the King of kings.

b.Solomon had wise counsel, but Jesus is the “Wonderful Counselor”. (Isaiah 9:6)

c.Solomon had an inferior message, while Jesus has the message our world desperately needs…

John 3:16, For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

d.The Gentile Queen of the South responded to the message of Solomon, but “something greater than Solomon is here.” (42)

APPL – The question is straightforward; will you receive it and respond to it by faith? Don’t be a sign of unbelief.

II.Faith is the Victory (43-50)

The next two sections are so important for us to understand. At first, these verses might appear to be disconnected from the previous section, yet they are completely related and absolutely relevant to the message that Jesus declared. 

Jesus began by relating what happens when an unclean spirit goes out of a man, but nothing comes into that man to replace the demon. Jesus said that the last state of that man will be worse than the first because the demon will bring seven more demons with him to possess the man again.

A.We need personal revival not rules and rituals

1.Here’s the point of what Jesus was teaching; the Pharisees wanted reform on their own terms. They wanted a reform of their choosing and refused to receive the life that God was offering through His Son. We need personal revival not rules and rituals.

John 1:4, In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men.

2.The Pharisees were only concerned with the appearance of righteousness, so as to impress men, but they did not desire true personal revival, which is the transformation of the heart.

3.The man is a picture of the nation of Israel. Since the heart was left empty, it left the door open for every evil desire to creep in and find a home.

Matthew 23:38, So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

APPL – It’s as if they were saying, “I will go this far and no more. I want God only on my own terms.”

True transformation has two parts: to avoid sin and to draw near to God!

ILLUS – You can’t just say, “I will avoid junk food!” You must also say, “I will be satisfied with all the good things at God’s table.”

It’s not enough to say, “You’re right God, I need to sweep out my life.” You also need to say, “O God, fill me with your Holy Spirit and with newness of life!

Without the filling of the Holy Spirit, there is no spiritual power for victory, or joy of the Lord, which is our strength. But when the heart is revived and the Holy Spirit is at work, then like Paul, we can say…

Philippians 4:13, I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.

B. We need an intimate relationship with God

1.At this point in Jesus’ ministry, his family thought Jesus needed “help!”

2.They had come to stage an intervention so that Jesus would not be excommunicated for offending the Jewish leadership.

Mark 3:20-21, Then Jesus entered a house, and again a crowd gathered, so that he and his disciples were not even able to eat.When his familyheard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.” (NIV)

3.It appears that even Mary was concerned and joined her sons to sit Jesus down and set Him straight.

4.When Jesus was told that His mother and brothers were there to speak with Him, He declared that those who do the will of His Father are His mother and brothers. What is the will of the Father?

John 6:40, For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.

5.Here Jesus was also speaking of the intimacy of a relationship that brings the fulness of God’s love.

6.In other words, when we believe in Jesus, God’s Son, we are not just receiving truth; we are receiving a relationship with God Himself.

7.It’s personal. I can’t ride on the coattails of another person’s faith. It’s between me and God. It’s personal.

8.With that relationship comes the fullness of God’s love and all that it means in our lives.

Ephesians 3:14-19, For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name,that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man,so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.


APPL – It’s easy to come to church week after week, to hear the Word of God, and remain the same.

God has something better. Life to the full and fullness of joy in the Spirit.

Victory over sin. Victory over fear. Victory over all that will keep us bound up, beaten down, and defeated.

We have this victory because God has given us the greatest gift of all, the greatest sign to confirm it all.

The sign of Jonah, the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Will you believe?

Faith is the victory!

1 John 5:4, For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.

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