Posted by: gbake783 | January 24, 2012

Luke 11:29-36

In the previous context, Jesus encounters two criticisms: (1) Jewish leaders insist that Jesus casts out demons by the Prince of demons; and (2) the Jews request another sign. Jesus dismantles the first by exposing its irrationality and presenting an alternative – if these exorcisms are by the power of God, then the Kingdom of God has come. Jesus attacks the second line of criticism in verses 29-36.

Jesus responds to the request for a sign by referencing two Old Testament stories – Jonah and the Queen of Sheba (2 Kings 10). In Jonah’s case, the pagan city of Nineveh reacted immediately to Jonah’s prediction of destruction. God, in His grace, responded to the city-wide repentance by staying His hand of execution. The Queen of the South, or Sheba as it’s recorded in 2 Kings 10, came a great distance and at great personal cost simply to hear the wisdom of Solomon. Her response is instructive – “there was yet no more breath in her” (my translation). She was blown away, breathless, over the wisdom displayed by Solomon and his retinue.

Yet, something superior to Jonah and Solomon was there.

Jesus knows just where to press. The city of Nineveh was the capital of Babylon – the same nation that carried away His listeners’ ancestors as slaves several hundred years before. The Queen of Sheba was a Gentile woman who ruled over other unclean Gentiles. Jesus listener would have responded incredulously, “How could it be that these Gentile pagans will condemn us at the judgment?”

The Jews saw miracle after miracle, heard Jesus’ presentation of the Word, and observed His character. And, yet, they wanted more. By contrast, these Gentile pagans responded enthusiastically with repentance to God’s message. Jesus would have answered the above objection by saying, “Blessed rather are those who hear the Word of God and keep it” (Luke 11:28). Jesus would have noted that for all the faults of these unclean Gentiles, they responded to the Word. And for all the Jews’ self-righteousness, they rejected the Word.

Jesus had the racial pedigree the Jews craved – he was a Son of Abraham and a Son of David. Jesus did not innovate theologically – he primarily used the Law and Prophets to explain His Messiahship. Jesus personal character did not undercut His message – the Jews were constantly nitpicking him and found no fault (in the very next paragraph the Jews noted that Jesus didn’t wash his hands). If the Jews were not going to listen to Jesus, to whom would they listen? The Jewish rejection of Jesus’ message demonstrates the human tendency to create a God of our own liking – C.S. Lewis would say that we try to tame Jesus. And Jesus is not a tame Lion. Jesus did not fit the mold the Jews wanted Him to fit. So they rejected Him, as they had the prophets before Him.

But we do the same. We know that Jesus says a lot about our lives in His book – but how often do we really pick up that book to see what Jesus has to say? We give lip service to worshiping Jesus, but we rarely try to worship “the Lord in the beauty of holiness” (Psalm 29:2). Christ has written for us far more than Nineveh heard. And the Bible is certainly far more accessible than Solomon was to the Queen of Sheba.  Will the citizens of Nineveh and the Queen of Sheba condemn us in the day of judgment, or will our response be equal to theirs? They sought out the word and changed. Do we?

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