Luke 11:14-32 (AD 29)
The opening of today’s passage is another example of how the enemies of Jesus tended to come at him with transparently envy-driven nonsense. This was how events unfolded:
- Jesus encountered a man rendered mute because he was possessed by a demon.
- Jesus drove out the demon; immediately the man could speak.
- Three responses:
- ‘Jesus is a demon!’
- Demanded that Jesus give them a sign to prove he wasn’t Satan
The Devil driving out devils made no sense, as Jesus pointed out. Further, following their logic, if the Pharisees were driving out demons wouldn’t that mean the Pharisees were demons, too? And if not, why accuse Jesus of it?
It’s episodes like that, which make it clear why Jesus often used methods of speaking like parables to make himself clear to genuine seekers, and leave things opaque for the trolls. Sometimes deliberately provoked them (such as later in this passage), other times he spoke right over their heads. When people adamantly oppose Jesus, don’t be surprised when your words to them about God make absolutely no sense. They don’t want it to make sense, therefore it won’t.
Jesus went on to say that no sign would be given to “this…wicked generation” (v.29). He had of course already given them many signs. But taken as a whole, in so far as that generation had countless of people who rejected him, he was pointing out that he wouldn’t be doing anything to satisfy their demands for proof on their own terms, to try and satisfy criteria that would have changed as soon as Jesus met them.
What they did have from Jesus was the sign of Jonah (three days in the fish before preaching to the Ninevites), and the Queen of Sheba (travelled a vast distance to meet a man of splendour and divine wisdom). The repentance of the psychopathic Ninevites and the humility of the non-God-following Queen of Sheba put many of the Jews of Jesus’ day to shame. Furthermore, the three days of Jonah in the whale prefiguring the three days of Jesus in the tomb (Friday, Saturday, Sunday) was all the sign that they needed… Jesus would be the sign of coming judgement on the Jews as Jonah was the sign of a coming judgement on the Ninevites.
We don’t get to invent novel burdens for proof or barriers to faith and then expect God to meet our demands before we trust and obey him. We are to enter faith with brains engaged, but we don’t get to issue an ultimatum to God about what he ‘must’ do to ‘earn’ our trust. He’s already done that a thousand times over through Jesus life, death and resurrection.
God has thousands of years of faithfulness and promise-keeping. As Christians, do you stand on those promises? Do you trust him? Not just in some vague way but do you trust him with your future? Your kids? The impact of a global pandemic?