- Sermon Notes
The Sign from Heaven
ILLUS – The Signs of the Times
1 How can we know for certain that the Lord will return?
2.Tonight, we will discover that the matter of Christ’s return is settled because God has already given us The Sign from Heaven which guarantees His return.
1.Last week, we noted that after a heated exchange between Jesus and the scribes and Pharisees, Jesus headed to the district of Tyre and Sidon. Today this region is called southern Lebanon.
2.It was the first and only time Jesus left Israel.
3.In a region that was 35 to 60 miles from Galilee, an amazing exchange took place between Jesus and a Canaanite woman who had a daughter that was demon possessed.
4.Jesus commended her for her faith and gave her what she requested, the deliverance of her daughter.
5.From there, Jesus traveled back to the area of the Sea of Galilee, but this time he traveled to a southern district known as the Decapolis.
6.The name “Decapolis” means “ten cities”. Rome had authorized this league of ten localities to mint their own coins, run their own courts, and even have their own armies.
7.But what is significant for our study is that these ten cities were predominantly Gentile. The citizens of this region were well-versed in the worldly philosophies and false religions of the Roman Empire.
8.It is fitting that Matthew would record this journey for it ties in perfectly with Christ’s interaction with the Canaanite woman.
Transition – God sent Jesus, The Sign from Heaven, to the Gentiles. As The Sign from Heaven, what did Jesus’ presence and ministry reveal?
I. God is a Compassionate God (15:29-39)
- In verse 32, we’re told that Jesus called His disciples to Himself and said, “I feel compassion for the people, because they have remained with Me now three days and have nothing to eat; and I do not want to send them away hungry, for they might faint on the way.”
- The word “compassion” means “that one’s heart is moved with passion”. In other words, Jesus saw the condition of these Gentiles who had been with Him for three days, and His heart was moved.
- Knowing that God has a heart of compassion for us, encourages our hearts for that is part of knowing who God is.
ILLUS – God had compassion on the people of Nineveh.
Jonah 4:11, Should I not have compassion on Nineveh, the great city in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know the difference between their right and left hand, as well as many animals?
- There are other Scriptures which reveal God’s heart of compassion towards us.
Psalm 103:2-5, Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget none of His benefits; Who pardons all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases; Who redeems your life from the pit, Who crowns you with loving kindness and compassion; Who satisfies your years with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle.
ILLUS – Before I met Heidi
A. God wants to heal broken lives (29-31)
1.When Jesus came to this area of the Decapolis, He sat down and the crippled, blind, dumb, and sick were brought to Him and He healed them all.
2.Again, our faith is strengthened when we know who God is and His heart for us, which He revealed through His Word and His Son.
3.God healed as a sign, a witness, and a testimony of His strength and power, even towards Gentiles not just His chosen people, the Jews. And we’re told that the Gentiles “glorified the God of Israel.” (31)
ILLUS – God’s signs to Israel in the Old Testament.
APPL – Today, God still wants to heal broken lives! He invites us to come to Him for only He can bring true hope and healing.
Matthew 11:28-30, Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.
B.God wants to satisfy hungry souls (32-39)
1.Here, Jesus did another amazing miracle though it is often ignored by Bible students because the crowd was not as large.
2.But it is important to note that there are significant differences between the feeding of the 5,000 and the feeding of the 4,000.
3.First, when Jesus fed the 5,000, the disciples came to Him and asked Him to send the people away to get food after they had been with Him for only one day.
4.Here, the people had been with Jesus for three days and the disciples never said a word about the people needing food! Why? Because the people were Gentiles. They were not concerned about the welfare of the Gentiles, but Jesus was!
5.Next, some assume that this miracle was less significant in comparison to the feeding of the 5,000 because only seven baskets were collected afterwards but twelve were collected after the 5,000 were fed.
6.But the word for “baskets” is different.
a.The twelve baskets that were used to collect the bread after feeding the 5,000 were smaller wicker baskets used by the Jews to carry items.
b.The seven baskets that were used to collect the bread after feeding the 4,000 were large hampers that the Gentiles used to carry items.
c.Therefore, it is likely that more food was collected after the feeding of the 4,000 than the 5,000!
APPL – But also note that there is a theme developing here. Jesus ended His public ministry to the Galilean Jews by feeding the 5,000. He then ended His ministry to the Gentiles by feeding the 4,000. Then Jesus ended His ministry with the disciples by feeding them a meal of bread and fish (John 21:9-14).
- Jesus spoke of His relationship to the church when He said,
Revelation 3:20, Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.
- So, eating together is something that God approves of very much and we at Calvary have mastered the art of doing so!
- But it is also a picture of how God ministers to our souls.
Deuteronomy 8:3, He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord.
- Jesus is the Bread of heaven, who satisfies our souls.
John 6:33, 35, “For the bread of God is that which comes down out of heaven, and gives life to the world.” Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.”
- Jesus is The Sign from Heaven and only He can satisfy the soul that is empty.
II. Believe in Jesus, God’s Sign for Us (16:1-12)
- The first part of this chapter has two interesting events that unfold which give us insight to strengthen our faith as well.
- The Pharisees and Sadducees were enemies because of their theological differences.
- The Pharisees were very conservative and legalistic. They were “hall monitors” who emphasized the tradition of the elders at the expense of God’s Word.
- The Sadducees were very liberal. They denied the existence of the supernatural, including the existence of angels. They also denied the resurrection of the dead.
- But the two groups united against a new threat, Jesus.
- They tested Jesus by asking Him to show them a “sign from heaven”. (1)
- Evidently, the miracles that Jesus had performed were considered “signs from earth” and did not meet their standard.
- They wanted a sign like Moses gave to Israel when he gave them manna, bread from heaven, though it was God who provided the manna. (Exodus 16:4)
- Or a sign like Elijah gave to Israel when he called down fire from heaven against the priests of Baal. (1 Kings 18:37-39)
ILLUS – In many ways, it’s like when people say, “If there is a God in heaven let Him strike me with lightning right now.” And then when He does not, they say, “See, God does not exist!”
Transition – The bottom line is that no sign would have been good enough. They were suppressing the truth!
A. Don’t suppress the truth about Jesus (1-4)
1. Jesus responded to their challenge by giving them an illustration. They had the ability to forecast the weather by looking at the color of the sky during the day or night.
2. So how was it that the religious leaders could not discern the “signs of the times”?
3. According to the Gospel of Mark, Jesus called them “hypocrites” because they were acting or pretending like they could not discern who Jesus is and what He was doing, that He is The Sign from Heaven.
ILLUS – People pretend to ignore signs all the time
4.Jesus correctly pointed out the problem was with their hearts. They had rejected the signs that were right in front of their eyes and kept looking for ways to discredit Jesus.
5.Yet, Jesus clearly fulfilled all the prophecies that were expected of Messiah.
Isaiah 35:5-6, Then the eyes of the blind will be opened and the ears of the deaf will be unstopped. Then the lame will leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute will shout for joy.
6.Jesus declared that no sign would be given to that “evil and adulterous generation” except the “sign of Jonah. (4) This was clearly a reference to His death, burial, and resurrection.
7.The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the confirming sign that Jesus is the Son of God and that His death on the cross was accepted by the Father as payment in full for our sin! Because of this sign, we may have confidence that not only those who call upon the Lord will be saved but that our Savior is coming back!
Acts 13:30-31, 38-39, But God raised Him from the dead; and for many days He appeared to those who came up with Him from Galilee to Jerusalem, the very ones who are now His witnesses to the people. Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through Him forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and through Him everyone who believes is freed from all things, from which you could not be freed through the Law of Moses.
APPL – Has God not sufficiently revealed Himself to us and given us sufficient signs to discern the truth? Then what is the problem?
Romans 1:18-19, For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them.
B. Guard your heart against all leaven (5-12)
1.After the encounter with the Pharisees and Sadducees, Jesus left them and went with His disciples to the other side of the sea, but the disciples had forgotten to take bread.
2.Jesus then warned them to “Watch out and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” (6)
3.At first, they were confused, thinking that Jesus was correcting them for not bringing enough bread.
4.But they realized that Jesus was not concerned about a lack of bread, after all He had fed crowds of 5,000 and 4,000 people!
5.Rather, Jesus was warning them against the teaching of the Pharisees and the Sadducees for their teaching was like leaven; like sin which spreads and infects all it touches.
6.What was the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees? God had sent His Word to reveal His heart, to draw people to Himself through His Son Jesus Christ.
7.But they had distorted God’s Word and deceived the Jews with their false teachings. God was not pleased because He takes His signs and His Word seriously.
Deuteronomy 4:2, You shall not add to the word which I am commanding you, nor take away from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.
8.The Pharisees added to God’s Word by loading people down with burdensome requirements from the tradition of the elders.
9.The Sadducees were taking away from God’s Word through their denial of heaven, angels, demons, and the resurrection.
APPL – There are some today who do the same thing.
- Some are very legalistic and act as “hall monitors” who add man-made burdens and requirements on God’s people.
Galatians 2:20-21, I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly.”
- Others nullify the holiness of God and teach that God accepts everyone without requiring faith in His Son, Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of their sin.
John 3:18, He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
APPL – In closing, how will we respond to The Sign from Heaven that God has given?
Acts 4:12, And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.
Matthew 15:29-39 NASB