The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here. — Matthew 12:41
Amy Carmichael was a missionary to India in the early 1900s. One afternoon, a Hindu father and his beautiful young daughter named Mimosa came to visit. While they were there, the mission people told Mimosa of a God who had made everything and loved her. Because the visit was short, they did not have time to tell her much about Jesus or how He died on the Cross, and the young child pled with her father to allow her to stay and learn more. He denied her request, and she was forced to return home with him that day.
Later Amy wrote, “One look at that loveliness [of the Lord Jesus], and, though the one who looked did not even remember His name, she was His forever.”(1) Mimosa went home to serve this loving God through long and extreme persecution. Although at first she knew nothing of God but what she had heard in that brief visit, she learned to know Him through personal communication. She served God even though her family and then her husband opposed her. It was twenty-two years before she had the opportunity to visit Amy again and “officially” learn more about the Gospel. By that time she had endured so much hardship that she looked like an old woman. Yet, her faith in God had held and grown strong.
Mimosa responded to a mere fragment of knowledge about God. How much knowledge do we have, and how have we responded? Jesus indicated that the people of Nineveh had taken action because of Jonah’s message, yet the Israelites of Jesus’ time did not respond although He was greater than Jonah. We do not want to be like them; we want to heed and take advantage of the entire Gospel understanding that God has given us. Let us ask God today to give us hearts like Mimosa’s that we may believe and obey Him in everything.
The Jewish religious leaders of Jesus’ days were not satisfied that the prophecies He fulfilled were, indeed, proof that He was the Savior. They asked Him to give them a sign. Their demand was not an honest request, but an indication that they were not ready to believe Him, regardless of whatever proof he gave them. Some of those same leaders had earlier accused Jesus of using the spirit of Beelzebub to perform miracles — suggesting He was exercising the same satanic power as the magicians of their day.
Jesus indeed performed miracles and wonders, but they were not done to satisfy the curiosity of those present. He performed miracles to bring glory to God. He compared Himself to King Solomon, whom the people referred to as the wisest man who ever lived. However, though Solomon enjoyed wealth and knowledge, he exploited his subjects. Yet, in spite of Solomon’s limitations, the Queen of Sheba came from a Gentile country far away to seek his knowledge, and was fascinated by it. Jesus not only was infinitely greater than Solomon in the wealth of His knowledge, wisdom, and power, but He had an intense compassion for sinners. As the King of mankind, Jesus showed His love for His subjects. In His love for them, He did not want anyone to perish; and He would even die to prevent them from perishing.
Jonah was well known in Jesus’ time as a prophet of God who had experienced in the whale a stunning miracle that was a type of resurrection. Jesus reminded the people that Jonah went to the Gentile people of Nineveh, and they repented. They responded to the words of warning by one from an enemy country, and sought no proof because of the truth behind it. In contrast, Jesus came to His own people, offering clear evidence of His miraculous powers, but His message was rejected. Jesus knew that even though He would die and come back to life by His own power, they would not believe.
By using the examples of Solomon and Jonah, Jesus exposed the pretenses of the Jewish leaders’ spirituality. They were not truly seeking after the truth of God as the Queen of Sheba and the people of Nineveh did. These had sought God when imperfect situations were presented to them. Yet, the Jewish leaders would not believe Christ when all the evidences of His divinity were presented before them.
Jesus warned them that it was not enough to seek God and attempt to cleanse their hearts, but their hearts had to be occupied with the love of the truth of God. Without the love of truth, their efforts to purify themselves would only bring more spiritual woe. He illustrated this with the example of one who cleansed his heart but did not occupy it with the love of God, which allowed a greater number of devils to return and occupy his heart. Jesus emphasized to the people that it is the love of truth that would allow them to be a part of His kingdom.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
IV. The opposition to the King
A. The commencement of the King’s rejection
3. The announcement by the King of Israel’s rejection (12:38-50)
a. The Pharisaic demand for proof of Christ’s claims (12:38)
b. The sign of Jonah (12:39-42)
c. Israel’s predicament (12:43-45)
d. Christ’s individual invitation (12:46-50)
Jesus’ death, resurrection, and centuries of work in the lives of believers are irrefutable evidence that He is, indeed, the Son of God. How have you responded to this evidence? Instead of looking for additional evidence or miracles, accept what God has already given!
1. Amy Carmichael, Mimosa, p.5 (Forward to the First Edition)