September 28: Kingdom Membership (Matthew 12:38-50)
Matthew 12:38-50 (only verses 38-42 are provided below)
Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered him, saying, “Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you.” But he answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here. The queen of the South will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something greater than Solomon is here.
In this passage, we again see the Scribes and Pharisees at odds with Jesus, calling Him teacher with their mouths, but having hearts that were very opposed to His kingdom rule. Even as they see His mind-bending displays of divine power, they press Him for a sign to authenticate His identity. They clearly evidence the fact that being religious is no inside track to God, but rather, can be an obstacle to membership in His kingdom. They challenge all of us to consider where we have allowed religion to replace genuine kingdom living.
Review and Apply
1. The religious elite loosely use the word "teacher", in referring to Jesus, even though they resisted His teaching. Do we have our own equivalent "loose"references? How should we think about those biblically?
2. Is there a role for "signs" in our Christian lives today? If not, why? If so, when and how?
3. Verse 45 refers to some who are worse off after the knowledge of Christ than before. When can we be guilty of "too much knowledge" in our own Christian lives? What's the relationship between knowledge and obedience?
4. The final verses suggest that the real family of God, and of Believers, are those who do the will of the Father. Looking at our own lives, are these the folks we see as our "real" family? If we were to evaluate by who we spend time with, who we take counsel from, who we love...?