Let’s first look at the miracle that Jonah encountered, who was similar to Jesus in this matter. We also saw that God used the feedback strategy, whose response will be according to people’s reactions accordingly. Although He had performed many miracles at that time, the Pharisees and Sadducees could not discern and did not believe. Second, we said that the eyes are the lamps of the body, and that the eyes can reflect the inner condition of a person. A life with faith will naturally have good deeds from faith. Such good deeds are due to believing in the Lord, and naturally people will give glory to the Father in heaven, and bad deeds cannot be hidden as well. Thirdly, we see some woes to the Pharisees. For example, their behavior was mainly for others to see. But they didn’t do what must be done, which was the things of the righteousness and love for God. The Bible tells of many warnings about the Pharisees, one of which is to beware of their teachings. Finally, we also mention the woes to the lawyers. Among them include all the blood shed by Abel to the prophet Zechariah, who was killed between the altar and the temple. All of which shall be charged against this generation. We also mention the reason why the other Zachariah was not the one talking about here.
1. The miracle of Jonah
“As the crowds were increasing, He began to say, “This generation is a wicked generation; it seeks for a sign, and yet no sign will be given to it but the sign of Jonah. For just as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so will the Son of Man be to this generation. The Queen of the South will rise up with the men of this generation at the judgment and condemn them, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and behold, something greater than Solomon is here. The men of Nineveh will stand up with this generation at the judgment and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and behold, something greater than Jonah is here.”(Luke 11:29-32) Here, we must pay attention to the fact that the Bible clearly states that Jesus is greater than the prophet Jonah. In Matthew 12:40, it says, “for just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” So in this matter, Jonah is a type of Jesus. A type only means being like Jesus in a certain way, not in all aspects.
Regarding the matter of performing miracles, Jesus had performed many miracles at that time, but the people did not believe and could not discern them. Matthew 16:1-4 puts it quite clearly, “The Pharisees and Sadducees came up, and testing Jesus, they asked Him to show them a sign from heaven. But He replied to them, “When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’ And in the morning, ‘There will be a storm today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ Do you know how to discern the appearance of the sky, but cannot discern the signs of the times? An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign; and a sign will not be given it, except the sign of Jonah.” And He left them and went away.” Therefore, Jesus performed miracles at a fixed time and with a purpose, not at the request of the audience.
These records are basically the same in Matthew 12:38-42, except that “Then some of the scribes and Pharisees said to Him, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from You.””(Matthew 12:38) The miracle of Jonah is recorded in the book of Jonah, and it goes something like this: “The word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh the great city and cry against it, for their wickedness has come up before Me.” But Jonah rose up to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. So he went down to Joppa, found a ship which was going to Tarshish, …The Lord hurled a great wind on the sea and there was a great storm on the sea so that the ship was about to break up.”(Jonah 1:1-4) So Jonah didn’t want to do this very much, so he walked in the opposite direction to avoid it. In the end, the shipmates responded to Jonah’s request, “So they picked up Jonah, threw him into the sea, and the sea stopped its raging.”(Jonah 1:15) Then “And the Lord appointed a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the stomach of the fish three days and three nights.”(Jonah 1:1) He was convicted in the belly of the fish, and he repented and prayed, “Then the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah up onto the dry land.”(Jonah 2:10) We saw that the people of Nineveh repented after hearing what Jonah preached, so God, who is merciful and gracious, did not bring disaster on this foreign city. It is the same as he did to the elect, the Israelites, “When the righteous turns from his righteousness and commits iniquity, then he shall die in it. But when the wicked turns from his wickedness and practices justice and righteousness, he will live by them.”(Ezekiel 33:18-19) The way of the Lord is very fair and consistent. We see that He uses a feedback strategy, which will act differently according to people’s reactions. Let’s give a simple example about the feedback strategy. This is like driving a car. We use our eyes to see if we have deviated from the road. If we do not deviate, we continue to move forward. If we deviate, we use the driving wheel to correct the direction so that the car will drive on the road in the right direction. This is the so-called feedback.
2. The eyes are the lamps of the body
“No one, after lighting a lamp, puts it away in a cellar nor under a basket, but on the lampstand, so that those who enter may see the light. The eye is the lamp of your body; when your eye is clear, your whole body also is full of light; but when it is bad, your body also is full of darkness. Then watch out that the light in you is not darkness. If therefore your whole body is full of light, with no dark part in it, it will be wholly illumined, as when the lamp illumines you with its rays.”(Luke 11:33-36)
Matthew 6:22-23 also says that the eyes are the lamp of the body. If the light within you is darkened, how great is the darkness! The eyes reflect the inner condition of a person. We see that the scriptures make it very clear, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”(Matthew 5:14-16) This does not mean that Christians think they have good deeds and deliberately show them to others, but a life with faith will naturally reveal good deeds of faith. People see that the good behaviors come from faith, and will naturally give glory to the Father in heaven.
In Mark 4:21-22, “And He was saying to them, “A lamp is not brought to be put under a basket, is it, or under a bed? Is it not brought to be put on the lampstand? For nothing is hidden, except to be revealed; nor has anything been secret, but that it would come to light.” This is consistent with Luke 8:16-18, “Now no one after lighting a lamp covers it over with a container, or puts it under a bed; but he puts it on a lampstand, so that those who come in may see the light. For nothing is hidden that will not become evident, nor anything secret that will not be known and come to light. So take care how you listen; for whoever has, to him more shall be given; and whoever does not have, even what he thinks he has shall be taken away from him.” Good works of faith cannot be hidden, and bad works cannot be hidden too. Here we also see one consistent principle in heaven because in Matthew 13:11-12, “Jesus answered them, “To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted. For whoever has, to him more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him.”
3. Woe to the Pharisees
“Now when He had spoken, a Pharisee asked Him to have lunch with him; and He went in, and reclined at the table. When the Pharisee saw it, he was surprised that He had not first ceremonially washed before the meal. But the Lord said to him, “Now you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and of the platter; but inside of you, you are full of robbery and wickedness. You foolish ones, did not He who made the outside make the inside also? But give that which is within as charity (alms or a benefaction, G1654), and then all things are clean for you. “But woe to you Pharisees! For you pay tithe of mint and rue and every kind of garden herb, and yet disregard justice and the love of God; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others. Woe to you Pharisees! For you love the chief seats in the synagogues and the respectful greetings in the market places.”(Luke 11:37-43)
First of all, we saw the word charity. It is very clear in the original text that it is for the benefit of others. It is also clearly stated that the behavior of the Pharisees is to obey the law and to be seen by others. What they do behind their backs is like a hidden tomb, which cannot be seen by others. Instead, it is righteousness and love for God that should be done and must be done. So Jesus would say, “For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.”(Matthew 5:20) The Bible tells of many woes to the Pharisees, and it is very clear that in these verses it is said to beware of their teachings, “And the disciples came to the other side of the sea, but they had forgotten to bring any bread. And Jesus said to them, “Watch out and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” They began to discuss this among themselves, saying, “He said that because we did not bring any bread.” But Jesus, aware of this, said, “You men of little faith, why do you discuss among yourselves that you have no bread? Do you not yet understand or remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets full you picked up? Or the seven loaves of the four thousand, and how many large baskets full you picked up? How is it that you do not understand that I did not speak to you concerning bread? But beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” Then they understood that He did not say to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”(Matthew 16:5-12)
4. Woe to the lawyers
“One of the lawyers said to Him in reply, “Teacher, when You say this, You insult us too.” But He said, “Woe to you lawyers as well! For you weigh men down with burdens hard to bear, while you yourselves will not even touch the burdens with one of your fingers. Woe to you! For you build the tombs of the prophets, and it was your fathers who killed them. So you are witnesses and approve the deeds of your fathers; because it was they who killed them, and you build their tombs. For this reason also the wisdom of God said, ‘I will send to them prophets and apostles, and some of them they will kill and some they will persecute, so that the blood of all the prophets, shed since the foundation of the world, may be charged against this generation, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who was killed between the altar and the house of God; yes, I tell you, it shall be charged against this generation.’ Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge; you yourselves did not enter, and you hindered those who were entering.” When He left there, the scribes and the Pharisees began to be very hostile and to question Him closely on many subjects, plotting against Him to catch Him in something He might say.”(Luke 11:45-54)
We see the dissatisfaction of the teachers of the law, but these verses are clear about their problems. Regarding the sin of shedding the blood of the prophets, in Matthew 23:35 it says, “so that upon you may fall the guilt of all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar.”(Matthew 23:35) Look too at Zechariah 1:1, “In the eighth month of the second year of Darius, the word of the Lord came to Zechariah the prophet, the son of Berechiah, the son of Iddo saying,”(Zechariah 1:1) If you compare them, you know that they refer to the same person. We also know that here isn’t talking about the Zechariah mentioned in 2 Chronicles 24:20-21, “Then the Spirit of God came on Zechariah the son of Jehoiada the priest; and he stood above the people and said to them, “Thus God has said, ‘Why do you transgress the commandments of the Lord and do not prosper? Because you have forsaken the Lord, He has also forsaken you.’” So they conspired against him and at the command of the king they stoned him to death in the court of the house of the Lord.”(2 Chronicles 24:20-21) In the last paragraph, they thought that too much talk would lead to loss, but Jesus would not do this, because the life of Jesus spoke and acted according to the wisdom of God.
(Verses refer to those in NASB unless otherwise specified.)
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