Sunday, December 02, 2018

[Matt's Messages] "This Wicked Generation"

“This Wicked Generation”
Following Jesus - The Gospel of Matthew
December 2, 2018 :: Matthew 12:38-50 

For all of Matthew chapter 12, Jesus has been in a conflict with the Pharisees.

First, He healed someone on the Sabbath, which they thought was criminal.

But Jesus said that He could heal on the Sabbath because He is greater than the Sabbath.  He is Lord of the Sabbath. He is the King of Rest.

And then He went and healed someone who was blind and mute and demon-possessed.

And the Pharisees said that He could only do that because He was in league with Satan. “It is only by Beelzebub, the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons.” Which is just about the most evil thing you could say.

Jesus basically said that it was unforgivably evil to say, if that was their true position to take.

And then Jesus said that it’s no wonder they said something so evil because their hearts were so evil. Because they had snake-hearts. And it’s out of the overflow of the heart that the mouth speaks.

And that everyone will have to give an account for every careless word they have spoken.

And that brings us right up to verse 38.

What do think the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law are going to say next?

What do you think Matthew will report to us that came out of the overflow of their hearts next?

“We’re sorry?”
“Sorry for doubting you?”
“Sorry for rejecting you?”
“Please forgive us?”

No, I’m afraid it was not repentance at all.

Instead, it was a demand for further evidence.

And by the way, you and I don’t demand anything from Jesus.

It doesn’t work that way!

When Jesus answers their demand, he calls them a “a wicked and adulterous generation” and later on He repeats and calls them “This Wicked Generation.”

So that’s what I want to make the title of today’s message.

“This Wicked Generation”

Jesus uses some pretty strong words here.

He doesn’t hold back. He doesn’t mince words. He tells it like it is.

He tells the truth.

He tells them what they need to hear.

And what we need to hear, as well.

This morning, I have picked out 3 key words to center our focus on this passage.

And the first word is the main thing that this wicked generation was UNWILLING to do.


The very thing that John the Baptist was preaching. “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is near.”

And the very thing that Jesus was preaching, “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is near.”

And the very thing that Jesus’ disciples were to preach, “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is near. The King of Heaven Himself is near!”

But this wicked generation would have none of it.

Instead, they asked for more proof.

Let’s read Matthew chapter 12, verse 38.

“Then some of the Pharisees and teachers of the law said to him, ‘Teacher, we want to see a miraculous sign from you.’”

Now if that was all that we had ever heard about these folks, it might be okay.

In general, it’s not a sin to ask God for a sign.

It is a sin to demand a sign from God!

And that’s basically what they were doing.

“Teacher, we want to see a miraculous sign from you.”

“Get up here and dance!

We want to see some pyrotechnics. Turn on the magic show!”

This is not a request. This is a rejection.

I mean, what more do they need?

What has this chapter been so far? He just did some miracles! Jesus healed a man on the Sabbath. Jesus healed a demon-possessed mute and blind man.

Remember all of the miracles of authority in chapters 8 and 9 and 10 and 11?

Remember what Jesus told John the Baptist’s disciples, “See what I’m doing?!” “The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor. Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me!” (11:4-6).

And the Pharisee and the teachers of the Law are like, “Is that all you got?”

“We want some more proof. We want some more highly symbolic miracles to prove that you are who you say you are.”

“We want a spectacle. We want fireworks. And we want incontrovertible proof that you are the Messiah.”

Jesus knows that this is not a request. This is a rejection.

Nothing will convince these guys because they don’t want to be convinced.

And that’s a problem!

So here’s how Jesus responds. Verse 39.

“He answered, ‘A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a miraculous sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.”

Now when Jesus says that this generation is “adulterous,” I don’t think he means that these people were especially given to extramarital affairs.

He’s talking about spiritual adultery, right?

Being unfaithful, not to your spouse, but to your Lord.

That’s a theme that runs through the whole Old Testament, doesn’t it?

Spiritual adultery.

Hosea and Jeremiah and Ezekiel especially talk about that concept.

The Lord should be our first love above all others.

But idolatry is being unfaithful to Him and putting something else in His place.

And Jesus says that this generation, this cohort of contemporaries, is wicked and spiritually adulterous. And you can know it by their demanding of a sign.

A miraculous sign. A heaven-sent proof.

After everything that they have been given–and on top of it all–they want a sign.

SMH. “Shaking My Head.”

That’s what Jesus is doing right here, right now.

And He says, “The answer is no.”

v.39 again “But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”

“This is the only miracle that I will do on demand.

I will be like Jonah.”

Remember Jonah from the Old Testament?

He was a very reluctant prophet. Didn’t want to preach repentance to the Ninevites  because he knew that the Lord was gracious, and he didn’t want his enemies to be forgiven.

But the Lord did want Jonah to preach repentance to the Ninevites, and He sent a giant fish to make sure he got there!

Everybody thought that Jonah was dead! He got tossed overboard, into the sea! Nobody lives from that!

But Jonah chapter 1, verse 17 says, “But the LORD provided a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was inside the fish three days and three nights.”

And then it spit him up onto dry ground. And he went and preached to Nineveh.

I wonder what he looked like! After being in fishguts for 3 days.

I wonder what the Ninevites thought when they saw him and heard him?

Whatever they thought, they repented. V.41

“The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now one greater than Jonah is here.”

There He goes again.

Who does He think He is?

Earlier this chapter, He said that He was greater than King David. That He was greater than the priesthood. That He was greater than the temple. And that He was even greater than the Fourth Commandment.

Now, He adds to the list. He is also greater than the Prophet Jonah.

Jonah didn’t really die. He just got swallowed up by a fish.

Jesus is going to really die and on the third day rise again!

And He’s on a roll. So He goes one more. V.42

“The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon's wisdom, and now one greater than Solomon is here.”

Do you remember the “Queen of the South?” The Queen of Sheba?

We learned about her back in the Books of Kings. 1 Kings chapter 10.

She was probably from modern day Yemen at the southern tip of the Arabian Peninsula.

She had heard about the splendor and wisdom of Solomon so she came up to check him out, and the Bible says that she was breathless. {gasp}

She couldn’t believe what she saw.

And Jesus says, “And now one greater than Solomon is here.”

And He’s talking about Himself. Everybody knew that.

What a rebuke this is.

Do you get the rebuke here?

The principle is that the more you know about Jesus the more accountable you are.

The more you know about the Lord the more you are accountable for what you know.

Where the men of Nineveh Jewish?

Far from it?

Was the Queen of the South Jewish?

Was she a Pharisee? Was she a teacher of the Law?

How much more should the Pharisees be able to recognize their messiah than the men of Nineveh and the Queen of Sheba?

But did they?

No. They asked for “another sign, please.”

“We might follow you if you do another good trick.”

The more you know about Jesus, the more important it is to act on it.

To repent.

And these people had Jesus right there in front of them.

Jesus says that the men of Nineveh and the Queen of the South will give testimony against this wicked generation at the judgment.

Because they knew less about the Lord and they still repented.

What do you know about the Lord?

You are accountable for what you know.

You need to act on it.

You need to repent.

Repent of any and all spiritual adultery.

Repent of any and all wickedness.

And that includes, especially, the wickedness of religiosity!

Remember! When Jesus calls these people wicked. It’s not because they were selling drugs or molesting children or trafficking women.

They were the most religious people in the land.

They had their lives “straight.”

But they were rejecting Jesus.

And they were putting all kinds of things in His place.

Of what do you need to repent today?

Where are you working at repentance?

What areas of your life are in danger of taking the place of the Lord and need to be ruthlessly rooted out?

Have you repented in the first place and trusted Jesus as your Savior?

Because that’s the first and most important place to turn around.

To repent and (number two):


To receive Jesus.

In verses 43-45, Jesus tells a parable.

It’s a really strange one. At first, it seems like He’s teaching us how things work in the demonic world. And secondarily, He might be.

But His main reason for telling this story is the punch line about this wicked generation in verse 45.

So you have to understand that to understand the parable. V.43

“When an evil spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, 'I will return to the house I left.' When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that man is worse than the first. That is how it will be with this wicked generation.”

So this chapter has been all about exorcism and who is the prince of demons and who is Jesus. So Jesus uses an exorcism as an illustration.

He says that suppose somebody does an exorcism and the evil spirit has wander in the desert in the while and can’t find a place to rest, and then comes back to the original host person and finds that the person is still EMPTY.

He hasn’t filled up the house of his heart with a new occupant.

So the spirit calls his seven bad buddies and they turn the place into a demonic frat house.

“The final condition of that man is worse than the first [condition was].”

What is the point of this story?

Look at the punchline again.

“And the final condition of that man is worse than the first. That is how it will be with this wicked generation.”

It’s a parable.

He’s saying that King Jesus has come and is cleaning house.

The demons are getting booted left, right, and center.

The strong man stands no chance against Jesus the home invader.


But this wicked generation isn’t inviting Jesus in.

Jesus is cleaning house around here, but this wicked generation is rejecting Him.

And the final condition of those who reject Him is worse than the first.

I almost titled this message after the line in “Joy to the World:”

“Let every heart prepare Him room.”

But it’s more than just prepare the room.

It’s receive Jesus right on in to the room.

So that the Holy Spirit Himself takes up residency in your heart.

Receive Him.

That’s the opposite of what this wicked generation was doing.

And they were going to pay for it.

First in the destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD and then in the eternal judgment.

Because if you reject Jesus, there is no hope for you.

Instead, receive Him!

“ all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12).

How do you know that you have truly received Him?

Number Three. You:


Matthew tells one more story before the chapter ends. It’s a little surprising, too. Look at verse 46.

“While Jesus was still talking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, wanting to speak to him. [They were outsiders that day.] Someone told him, ‘Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.’ [At this point, they apparently had some doubts about Jesus and his actions.] He replied to him, ‘Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?’ Pointing to his disciples, he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.’”

Now, Jesus doesn’t really disown his biological family.

Notice that He has brothers. I think that answers the question of whether or not Mary stayed a virgin all of her life.

But Jesus doesn’t really disown Mary or his brothers. We know that He loved her and arranged for someone to take care of her when He was going away.

But Jesus is making a profound point that spirit is thicker blood.

Jesus’ real family are those who are His disciples.

And, praise the Lord, it looks like some, maybe all, of his biological family was also part of His spiritual family. Mary, of course. And James, too, right?

But what Jesus is saying is that you know you belong to His family if you follow the will of His Father.

If you are His disciple.

If you do what He has set out for you to do.

If you accept His invitation.

Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke [of discipleship] upon you and learn from me [same root word for disciple], for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).

That’s how you join Jesus’ real family.

“For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister [notice that ladies?] and mother.”

Is that you?

Are you following?

Are you doing the will of Jesus’ Father in heaven?

Do you know what He wants from you and are you carrying it out?

This wicked generation would not follow.

They would not repent even though the Messiah was standing right in front of them.

This wicked generation would not receive Jesus as their Messiah.

And they were in big trouble.

And there were probably many who thought they were on the fence about Jesus.

Maybe at this point Mary and Jesus’ brothers were undecided.

But we know that there really is no fence.

You are either in or out.
With Jesus or against Him.
Following Jesus or resisting Him.

Which are you?

Don’t be like this wicked generation that Jesus confronted.

Learn from their mistakes.

Repent. Receive. And Follow.


Previous Messages in This Series:
01. The Genealogy of Jesus
02. The Birth of Jesus Christ
03. The Search for Jesus Christ
04. The Baptism of Jesus
05. The Temptation of Jesus
06. Following Jesus
07. Jesus' Sermon on the Mount
08. The Good Life (Part One)
09. The Good Life (Part Two)
10. You Are The...
11. Jesus and the First 2/3 of the Bible
12. But I Tell You
13. But I Tell You (2)
14. But I Tell You (3)
15. In Secret
16. Choose Wisely
17. Seek First His Kingdom
18. Generous
19. These Words of Mine
20. When He Saw the Crowds
21. When He Came Down from the Mountainside
22. Follow Me
23. Our Greatest Problem
24. Who Does He Think He Is?
25. Special Agents
26. Sheep Among Wolves
27. What To Expect On Your Mission
28. Are You the One?
29. Come to Me
30. The King of Rest
31. So Thankful!