29. And when the people were gathered thick together, he began to say, This is an evil generation: they seek a sign; and there shall no sign be given it, but the sign of Jonas the prophet.
30. For as Jonas was a sign unto the Ninevites, so shall also the Son of man be to this generation.
31. The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with the men of this generation, and condemn them: for she came from the utmost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here.
32. The men of Nineve shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here.
I want to talk to you about “The Incomparable Christ.” One who is greater than anyone you could stand up beside Him. Whether it be a king like Solomon or a great prophet like Jonah. The Scripture makes it clear no one can really and truly be compared to our blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
In the situation that we are looking at in this particular chapter, we have talked about the fact that Jesus was falsely accused and said that he cast out devils with the power of Beelzebub. Then there were others who demanded a sign from heaven. I don’t know why they couldn’t have seen this deliverance of a man from the power of an evil spirit that had caused him to be mute as a sign from heaven. But as we indicated before, some people are just blind to what God is doing. They can stand in the presence of a miracle and not see it. They are so far away from the activity of the Holy Spirit and what the Lord is really doing until they have trouble detecting even the presence of God, and knowing that God is at work. These signs seekers came to Jesus pressing upon Him when He was in the midst of a great crowd that had pressed in around Him. As the Scripture says, they were thick in their press around Jesus. They demanded a sign. Jesus said to them that this is an evil generation, always wanting a sign to gratify their own desire for the miraculous or for the sensational. People who wanted to be impressed by a display of someone’s power. The Bible clearly teaches us in several ways and places, in particular it comes strong in the gospel of John and the book of Acts, that signs – miraculous works of God are given so that people may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. Believing this, they would have life through His Name. As a matter of fact, John uses that as his stated purpose for writing his gospel. He said that there were many other signs truly that did Jesus that are not written in this book. He said if you were to try to write enough books to tell all about His glory and His wonder, he said I guess even the world would not contain it. He makes it clear that the signs that he includes in his gospel have a specific purpose and that is to cause people not to just believe in a person who performs signs and wonders, but to cause them to believe that this person who does the miracle-working power on display, that He is the Son of God – that He is the Christ. That’s what miracles are for; to create faith in the hearts of people to believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.
Most anybody could be amazed at some miraculous thing and not know for sure what was taking place and wonder if it was black magic or some other kind of magic. But John makes it clear that Jesus performs healings and miracles, not only to bless the people who are the recipients of His healing mercies and miraculous power, but to cause others to believe that He is the Son of God. If they can believe that, they will have life. Now Jesus would always shun the kind of shallow faith that is built on seeing signs and wonders. He looks for the kind of faith the reaches up and takes hold of the Christ Himself and believes on Him as the Son of God. That is the kind of faith that it takes to have eternal life through the Lord, Jesus Christ. It is like people who have faith in prayer. It is good to have faith in other people’s prayers. That is the reason we are always asking our friends and our brother and sisters to join with us in prayer. But that’s a lot different than having faith in God. Faith that is focused on God Himself is far superior than faith in one another, as good as that is. The right focus is what is behind the whole business of performing miracles that Jesus did. He said for that reason that there is not going to be a sign given like the people are wanting. I am not going to just perform in their presence to satisfy curiosity and to satisfy their longing for some kind of entertainment and so they can see something outstanding and can talk about it. No, the power of God works for a far deeper purpose. Jesus said to this wicked and evil generation there is only going to be one sign given and that is the sign of Jonah, who was three days and nights in the belly of the whale. He said when the Son of Man goes to His tomb in death, that on the third day He rises again, then that will be the sign of Jonah that should convince any and everybody that He is truly the Son of God. As Paul argues in I Corinthians, our whole salvation is based on the fact that Jesus Christ rose from the dead. Paul would argue that if He did not rise from the dead, then we are yet in our sin. We have no hope. There is nothing to look forward to in this world or in the world to come if Jesus didn’t come forth from the grave and triumphantly rise over death, hell and the grave.
After Jesus makes this clear about the sign, then He offers to them and to us two special comparisons of outstanding people that they should know about in their history. He gives a comparison with the statement that a greater than Solomon is here and a greater than Jonah is here. I want to talk about that tonight; these two comparisons.
First of all, a greater than Solomon. Jesus Christ, greater than Solomon.
I was awakened in the night and started thinking on this and God touched my heart. I wish that I had the words and the ability to bring to you what was impressed on my heart and mind. If you see it and if you grasp it, it will be because the Holy Spirit works in our hearts. I begin to think of Solomon in all his glory and his kingdom and all that he amounted to; a king with such power and a kind with such Godly wisdom, a king with such riches and such strength. Almost anything that you would want to talk about, King Solomon seemed to excel in all of it. His kingdom was perhaps the crowning glory of the kingdom of Israel. It probably never did reach heights before or after that it reached during the reign of Solomon. He attracted the attention of people from other nations worldwide, so to speak. Even the Queen of Sheba traveling from a long distance coming with gifts to give honor to him, she had heard so much about him. The news of this man and his kingdom spread out until people just almost in different nations heard about him and wanted to come and see. This woman, the Queen of Sheba came. She watched. She saw what happened in the palace. She saw Solomon especially going to the house of God. She saw his riches. She saw his organization of his household and his kingdom. She saw his officers and everything that he did. She saw all about it and said the half has never been told. When Solomon began to open up his heart to her and tell her all that was in her heart, she just swooned and fainted away, so to speak, at the overwhelming wisdom of this man. Here was a great king at a great time in Israel, rich and powerful filled with wisdom, writing books of wisdom, going in and out among the people in humility and in wisdom. But the time came when his kingdom faded away.
In comparison, our Lord Jesus Christ is a king. He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He has a kingdom and He is building it and it will never fade away. Of the increase of His kingdom and His strength there shall be no end, Isaiah said. His kingdom is forever and He rules and reigns tonight, even from a distance, not as a visible monarch on a throne, but He rules and reigns in the lives of countless millions of people on this earth now and people who have died in the faith down through the centuries. His kingdom shall increase and increase and His power will be gloriously wonderful and real. He, too, is a king of power. Unlimited power. Solomon had influence, but his power was mostly political with an army that backed him up. In the same way, Jesus is powerful, but more than politically. Yes, He has armies that can back Him up. Armies of angels. Armies of believers. Armies of people who will stand up and stand out and be counted for His name and for His glory in this earth now. But He is more than that in His power. He has power to put down all enemies under His feet. He has power to come and rule and reign upon this earth. The day will come that even the glorious presence of His appearing will cause all enemies to be struck down and they will bow and confess that Jesus is the Christ and they will do this for the glory of God the Father.
Solomon was a king of wisdom, but so is our Lord Jesus Christ and far beyond wisdom. In His life and His ministry and in His death, we are told that this is the manifestation of the wisdom of God. Now, I can’t explain that and I can’t really comprehend it because what seems to be like wisdom for this world does not seem to register on what is wisdom in the eyes of God. Because somehow or another, He can choose weakness and it turns out to be power. He can choose love and it overcomes a world of hate. His wisdom is the wisdom of the cross. The blood of the Lord Jesus Christ is the wisdom of God as manifested through the Son of God. He is one greater than Solomon in wisdom and in riches.
Oh my Lord! How can we begin to estimate His unlimited riches? He daily loads us with good things. His riches that come to us are far beyond anything we could ever imagine. The richness of eternal life, what a treasure! What price tag can you place on being saved tonight and having eternal life? What would you give in exchange for your soul? What would you take to turn your back upon Jesus Christ and eternal life? It is priceless. But, oh praise God! The riches that He bestows, they have a different value. They aren’t built on the stock market. His riches are not built on the money markets of this world. He doesn’t have to worry about Japan or Germany or England or the stock market in the United States, because when you have Jesus Christ in your life and you have eternal life abiding in you, you can be as rich as anybody in the world and go through this life feeling like you are rich and have no poor kinfolks!
He was a king of strength, but Jesus a greater than Solomon. Solomon attracted people of the world. There was something about the glory of his kingdom that caused this great queen to come and bow and bring great wealth with her as offerings and in turn, Solomon loaded her with great riches. She said the half has never been told. I want to tell you that this King who is greater than Solomon attracts the whole world. Not just a few people from a few nations like Solomon did, but there is a magnetism and attraction about the cross of Jesus Christ that has touched the lives of people around this world. It continues to do so. There is such power in the cross and such power in the attraction of Jesus Christ that it reaches this entire world. The time will come when the whole world will acknowledge that not one little bit of His glory and His wisdom and His kingdom and His power has ever been told.
I got to thinking about other things about Solomon and one thing in particular is he built a great temple, a house of God. He wrote a lot about it and about worship. He did a lot to establish worship. But that temple is gone. It crumbled into decay, destroyed. The beautiful temple that Solomon built, it was destroyed. But I want to tell you what Jesus Christ who is greater than Solomon is doing. He is building His Church and it shall never be destroyed. It will never pass away. He is building the Church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it. You know in the ancient times, the Kings met in the gates of their cities to map out strategies of different sorts to talk about the economy, to talk about war, to talk about strategy and there in the gates they transacted business and all kinds of plans. That’s what Jesus meant when He talked about the planning sources of evil, the very gates of hell would not be able to plan any strategy that would overcome the Church that Jesus Christ is building. Not just a temple made of stone. Oh no! But a temple that is made in the hearts and lives of people of faith who have opened up their lives to Him. He builds His Church and hell cannot stop it. No forces of this world can ever hinder it or stop it because there is given to the Church, the Body of Christ, the divine power and authority to move on in the glorious authority and Name of Jesus Christ to the triumphant finish of what the Church will be at the coming of our Lord, Jesus Christ.
That leads me to talk about yet one other thing about Jesus Christ greater than Solomon. Solomon had many wives. I decided I wouldn’t even look it up to see how many because it is so incredible anyhow. Many of those marriages were arranged and fixed so that Solomon would have connections with other nations and have allies through pre-arranged marriages. Not with Jesus. He doesn’t have many wives. He is preparing one Bride. It is the Church that He purchased with His own blood.
In this last point of comparison of Solomon and the Lord Jesus Christ, I don’t know so much about Solomon’s family. He had sons who brought him shame. He had problems in his family that stayed with him like David had had. His family through history – his sons, especially the one who took his place to reign – void of wisdom, void of the love of God, not understanding what God was doing in the world through the Hebrew people. This King that we are talking about tonight and the family that He is building and the Bride that He is preparing, this is the closest-knit family of any family of the earth. There are some of you that if I were to ask you would say that you are closer to your brothers and sisters in the church in the Body of Christ than you are to your own flesh and blood. There would be some of you who would cherish the strength and comfort that comes from the family of God. I say to you tonight that this Bride that Jesus is preparing one day He will present it unto Himself, and He will present it to the Father.
I can read the Bible and you can too and we hear sermons about it, but I still cannot grasp what it must be like when the Lord comes and He calls us to come up higher, when the dead in Christ rise first and those who are alive and remain are changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye and they rise up to meet the Lord in the air to ever be with the Lord. It’s the Bride of Christ going in to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. Can you comprehend that? It takes a revelation of the Spirit of God to help us to even to be able to look at it and understand it.
Jesus went on to say a greater than Jonah is here. He said Jonah was a witness to the Ninevites and he said those people, too, will rise up in judgment to condemn this nation of Israel in this generation that Jesus when He lived and was preaching and teaching. He said they will actually say that if they had seen the works of God like this generation had seen it, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. He said it only took one messenger going and really preaching with power to cause them to honor God and repent and turn to the Living God in repentance. But he said I tell you a greater than Jonah is here.
Let’s talk about that for just a few minutes. Sometimes some of the prophets are referred to as Minor Prophets. I don’t refer to them that way, because I think every one of them were major and they had major messages, even if it had been from so-called Minor Prophets. We’ve heard a lot of sermons about Jonah and some of them ridiculed him heavily and perhaps I’ve done that myself. But there was a lot of great going on in this man’s life. I remember a sermon on what I like about Jonah. It was terrific. He said well, one thing I like about him is that he was living where the word of the Lord came to him. That’s not bad, is it? If you are living where God can talk to you and the Word of the Lord can come to you. Even though he disobeyed, he knew how to pray. You know, for some of us, that’s about the time we do our best praying, when we get into some situation that’s almost as bad as being swallowed up by a whale! He was willing to confess his sin. He was willing to confess that he was to blame. How many people do you know that’s willing to take the blame for anything? Not many people these days. Here was a man who was willing to confess and take the blame for what he had done. Then the word of the Lord came to him a second time. How many people do you know who have disobeyed as he did and yet the Word of the Lord and the power of God came to their lives a second time? So, I’m saying that Jonah may not be nearly as bad as we sometimes paint him to be. But even picturing him in the best possible light still Jesus said a greater than Jonah is here.
There is no getting around the fact that he disobeyed God in the mission that God had given him to do. He ran from the presence of the Lord. What a tragedy. Jesus in His life and His ministry lived a life of absolute and complete obedience. This is another thing Biblically that is so difficult for me to grasp; why Jesus had to live in an attitude of obedience to the Heavenly Father. Instead of fleeing from His presence, He was always drawing near to Him and communing with the Heavenly Father so in prayer He was far greater than Jonah. His prayer was one of communion with the Father more than just praying in a time of great emergency. I wish I could say that. I wish my prayers were more in communion and in seeking the face of the Lord in communion and fellowship than they are for emergencies and for needs and presenting needs before the Father. In His mission upon this earth, a greater than Jonah was Jesus Christ.
Another thing about Jonah was that he hated and despised the Ninevites. These were the worst enemies that Israel had ever known. They were horrible in their attacks. Nobody could be any worse to people than the Ninevites. When they came in, they not only won the battle, but they slaughtered everybody, even unborn infants and ripped up women with child so that there would be no future generation that would grow up. Horrible, they were. We can pretty well understand why Jonah despised them and hated to go to them with good news that God loved them. It is the same wicked and cruel world, but Jesus loved the world. He came out of love to people who would despitefully use Him and who are known enemies to God and to Jesus. Yet, love drove Him to this world.
I don’t understand that, but thank God for the boundless, eternal love of Jesus Christ. Amen! I learned as a small boy that that is the heart of the gospel of Jesus Christ, that He came because of love and love held Him on the cross and love brought Him to a people who hated God, enemies to God and yet He loved them. A greater than Jonah is here. No wonder Jesus said it. Jonah preached to a city and saved a city. Jesus died on a cross and saved the world. A greater than Jonah is here. By the miraculous power of God, Jonah survived the whale’s belly three days and three nights. By the miraculous power of God, Jesus Christ rose from the dead. Yes, He is the incomparable one. You can’t compare with Him. When you look at the ending, especially the Revelation, Chapter 5 and you see what the saints of God of all the ages and all the nations think and you hear that beautiful song saying ‘Worthy is the Lamb,’ oh I want to tell you they sing as part of that song – and this is the song that you and I will sing, the song of the redeemed – ‘Worthy is the Lamb to receive power, riches, wisdom, strength, honor, glory and blessing. Seven-fold praise and adoration to our Lord, Jesus Christ because He is worthy. Jesus said ‘No sign given to you this evil and wicked generation but the sign of Jonah.’ And He said the people of the time of the Queen of Sheba and the Ninevites will rise up in judgment to condemn the generation that refuses to believe on the Lord, Jesus Christ.
Could it be that there would be some nations that would rise up to condemn in judgment? This nation that seems to be so rapidly turning away from God and from the truth? God help us to lift up the Lord, Jesus Christ with all our heart that He will continue to do His work in these days.
Please stand for the closing prayer.
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