Sign Seeking

When I was a boy growing up on a farm in southern Ohio we would often have several cats claim our barn as their residence. Sometime we would get over populated with cats and dad would try to give them away. I remember that on one occasion he loaded a stray cat, that had joined ou … More


The religious leaders demanded that Jesus give them a sign that would prove Himself to be the Messiah (v. 38). The kind of sign they wanted is not specified, but must have been an extraordinary one of worldwide magnitude. Jesus had already performed thousands of public miracles of healing, casting out demons and raising the dead. Jesus answered by saying only an “evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign” (v. 39). For Jesus to have given them a sign would have been wrong. He would have been catering to their unbelief and allowing them to set the standards of faith. Besides no matter what miracle He performed, it would not have pleased them. Instead He gave two responses to their challenge!

  1. He reviews their  history (v. 39-42). The  men of Nineveh repented at the preaching of a mere man, Jonah. The Queen of Sheba, (I Kings 10:1-13) about 1200 miles from Israel traveled all of that distance to listen to the wisdom of a man, Solomon. The response of the Ninevites and of the Queen was commendable but one greater than Jonah or Solomon was with them.  Instead of accepting Him, they rejected Him.
  2. He revealed their hearts (v.43-45). He  uses a parable of a demon who had been driven out but finding no place to rest returns with seven other spirits. In other words it is not enough to clean house: we must also invite in the right tenant. The Pharisees were proud of their “clean house” but their hearts were empty. Jesus’ final statement closes off the main part of this section by referring again to “this wicked generation” and by stressing the danger of neutrality of the claims of Jesus.


If an evil spirit came to my house today, would I have any empty rooms that he could easily move in to? Any area of my life that is not under Christ’s control is easy prey for an evil spirit to enter.

Matthew 12:38-45 (English Standard Version)

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. "When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, but finds none. Then it says, 'I will return to my house from which I came.' And when it comes, it finds the house empty, swept, and put in order. Then it goes and brings with it seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there, and the last state of that person is worse than the first. So also will it be with this evil generation."

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