Sinful Sign-Seekers
Matthew 12:38
Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from you.

Sign-seeking may be either right or wrong. Gideon sought a sign from God for the confirmation of his faith; and to him the sign was given. These Pharisees asked for a sign which they could turn into a confirmation of their unbelief, and to them no sign was given; they must be content with a sort of enigma, or riddle, which they might puzzle over if they pleased. The state of mind of these sign-seekers is of great importance. It explains to us at once that it would Lave been worse than waste for our Lord to have yielded to their wish.

I. THE SIGN THEY SOUGHT. Some miracle, wrought under conditions which they would appoint, anti submitted to tests which they would provide. Illustrate by the recent demand of the scientific man to have the question of "answer to prayer" submitted to what he called "adequate scientific tests." For them to seek a sign at all was to show that the miracles Christ had wrought had not produced their proper moral effect upon them. And anything like a demand for a sign showed that they did not realize their proper relations to a Jehovah-prophet, and to this Jehovah-prophet, who was the Messiah.

II. THE SIGN THEY OBTAINED. Not at all the kind of thing they asked for. Something stated in such a paradoxical way as compelled them to think. The reference to Jonah's being in the sea-monster's belly is not the thing our Lord is using as a sign; that only introduces the sign of Jonah's preaching repentance to the men of Nineveh. That was a sign, or illustration, of our Lord's preaching to the Pharisees; and the sign became a solemn warning; for, while the Ninevites obeyed Jonah, they were resolutely setting themselves against all obedience to Christ; and as Christ was greater than Jonah, so their judgment for rejecting him would be proportionately severe. It is as if our Lord had said, "I will not give you a sign, but I will give you an illustration; and I will take it from the Old Testament history, which you pride yourselves on knowing so well; and from the conduct of a heathen people, whom you sublimely despise. 'They repented at the preaching of Jonah;' 'A Greater than Jonah is here.' How are-you treating him and his message? Verily the men of Nineveh will rise and condemn you, you men of the superior privilege, in the day of judgment." They wanted a sign that they might use to condemn Christ; he gave them a sign which condemned them. - R.T.

Parallel Verses
KJV: Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from thee.

WEB: Then certain of the scribes and Pharisees answered, "Teacher, we want to see a sign from you."

Religious Sign-Seekers
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