Matthew 12:41-42 (NIV) “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. 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.”
Jesus had silenced those who were demanding a miraculous sign from Him as the price for them accepting Him. But now He delivers His judgment on them.
His first judgment uses Nineveh as a model. This wicked city sat under God’s judgment. Jonah went into the city crying out, “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overturned.” (Jonah 3:4 NIV) To their credit, the people of Nineveh, from the lowest all the way up to the king, repented in sackcloth and ashes, and God turned His judgment aside. (Jonah 3:10)
God is always anxious to avert His judgment, and looks for signs of softening and repentance so that He can do so. But the Pharisees and teachers of the law would never receive Jesus’ word of judgment on them as legitimate. The believed that God was pleased with their outward shows of piety, and that He would overlook the sin that corrupted their hearts. But God does not overlook sin. Unlike the Ninevites who repented immediately when they heard God’s words of condemnation through Jonah, these men refused to repent at the preaching of someone many times greater than Jonah.
Jesus’ second judgment used the Queen of Sheba as a model. This woman had heard about King Solomon’s wisdom from afar, and came to hear him for herself. And she was awed by what she found. She plied Solomon with questions, and discovered that his God-given wisdom enabled him to flawlessly answer every question (1 Kings 10:3).
But the Pharisees and teachers of the law would not accept Jesus’ answers to their questions, even though He was far greater and far wiser than Solomon. They were satisfied to believe their own answers when they were different from those that Jesus gave. Unlike the Queen of Sheba, they felt no desire to learn from Jesus about God and the kingdom of God, plotting instead to trip Him up.
The eyes of the Pharisees and teachers of the law were blinded by their own high opinions of themselves, so the majority of them could not see that the One standing before them was a greater prophet than Jonah, and a mightier and wiser king than Solomon could have ever hoped to be. And that blindness led to their ultimate undoing!
Father, we are so blessed to have the very words of Jesus, in all of their wisdom and divine prophetic power, in Bibles that are readily available to us. In fact, they are so readily available that I think sometimes we can lose sight of how precious they really are. We can buy the very oracles of God Himself, and the very words and teachings of Jesus, all for $5! And we treat them like they are worth $5 – often paying more attention to the philosophers, and scholars, and writers of our age. Forgive us for not opening our Bibles in awe and wonder, and poring over their contents intently every single day, so that we can know You better, and learn to hear Your voice more clearly. Amen.