A Moment With The Bible
It seems peculiar that the scribes and Pharisees would ask Jesus to show them a sign. After all, He has been performing a variety of miracles in their presence. So how is it that they ask this question? Mark 8:11 records the incident this way: “The Pharisees came and began to argue with him, seeking from him a sign from heaven to test him.” The phrase “from heaven” is critical in the Pharisees’ mind. As 12:24 indicates, they believed that Satan could also perform miracles. Thus, they are saying, “show us a sign that is unmistakably from heaven.” It is obvious that they have no intention of believing any miracle Jesus would perform. Jesus embarrassed them when He said they were evil trees with evil fruit. Therefore they are trying to save face by their challenge. How dishonest! Healing a man with a withered hand and casting out a demon from a blind and mute man is not enough?
Thus Jesus’ answer is that there is only one sign He will give them that could possibly meet their criteria: He will rise from the dead after three days. But amazingly, even this would not change them. Therefore, because of their disbelief, the men of Nineveh will condemn them in the judgment. Nineveh was a wicked, Gentile city, capital of the Assyrian Empire. But when the prophet Jonah entered that city after spending three days and nights in the belly of the great fish, the city repented on the first day of his preaching, from the king to the pauper. From the Jewish point of view, these Gentiles were despised, and yet they would be saved while the pious Pharisees were condemned because a greater than Jonah was in their midst.
Jesus adds one more comparison that would sting these self-righteous men. The queen of Sheba (a Gentile nation) had traveled about 1500 miles to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and yet these Jews had the Son of God in their midst, and they would not listen.
We in America are in a similar circumstance. Our opportunities are abundant and the opportunity to learn about the God is sitting on our coffee tables. But who seeks it? Who hungers and thirsts to study the scriptures in order to know more about Him? Indeed, the queen of the South will also rise up and condemn this generation!
A Moment With The Bible
The Pharisees were considered the most religious people of the day. The multitudes looked up to them as those who were strictly following the law of God in all its implications. However, as we learn from Matthew 23, their “righteousness” was only outward. They only appeared righteous, but inwardly they were “vipers” (12:33). In this text, Jesus proclaims that they are “evil” because their words were revealing what was in their heart. They spoke evil words, therefore their heart was full of “evil treasure.” A person who speaks good words does so out of the good treasure of their heart.
Jesus gives a warning that ought to cause each of us to tremble. On the day of judgment “people will give account for every careless word they speak.” How many times do we utter words that tear people down instead of building them up? How many times have we gossiped? How many times have we spoken words that bring shame on the name of Christ or do not reflect the true nature of a Christian? If we do not get forgiveness for these, one day we will give an account for what we have said.
Our words reveal what is truly in our heart and therefore it is by these words that we will either be justified or condemned. James said, “If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless” (James 1:27). It would be possible to never miss a church service, to sing and pray on a regular basis, and to lead others to Christ, but if we do not bridle our tongue, our religion is worthless. The use of the tongue is a serious matter. We must put a harness on it and keep it under control if we expect to be saved.