“Do We Really Need More Proof?
” (Matthew 16:1-4)
If you wanted to prove that something happened in the past that you believed was true, how would you do it? For instance, if you wanted to prove that you were born in the city and state you believe you were born in, and on the date you thought was your birthdate, how would you go about it? After all, even though you were there when it happened, you can’ remember. t You were too young. If you could have witnessed it and remembered what had happened, that would have been enough. But that was impossible. So you would have to prove it another way. One of the things you could do is ask someone who witnessed your birth, someone you could trust -- such as your parents, or the doctor who delivered you. Most of us have taken our parents word for it. Why would they want to deceive us? Another thing you could do would be to find some written documentation of your birth, such as your birth certificate. The date and place of your birth are officially recorded there. If your parents, your doctor, and your birth certificate all said the same thing, that would be enough to establish the facts of your birth. It would be very unlikely that all of them were wrong. One person might be wrong, but the more people there are who testify that something is true, the more likely it is to be true. This is one of the reasons why the Lord insists on having two or three witnesses to confirm any fact. One might be mistaken. One might even lie. But if you have two or three who agree, the likelihood that they are wrong is much smaller. Now if you had all these witnesses to the place and time of your birth, but you still doubted, you still didn’ want to believe them, then the problem would no longer be a lack of t evidence, it would be you. Some people won’ be convinced no matter how much evidence they t have. They simply don’ want to believe. t We see something like this going on in our passage this morning. Christ has been ministering for some time now. People everywhere were talking about Him. He had done many miracles and taught many things. All of these things were enough to prove that He was who He claimed to be. No one could reasonably doubt it. And yet now some Pharisees and Sadducees came to Him and asked Him for another sign. They wanted to see another miracle from heaven. They wanted Him again to show them His divine credentials. Why didn’ they accept what He t had already done? Why didn’ they receive the testimony of the thousands who saw His t miracles? Why didn’ they embrace the evidence of their own eyes? Why did they want more t proof? The answer, oddly enough, is that they didn’ want to believe. They only wanted another t reason to reject Him. But they were faced with a problem. Jesus didn’ work miracles for people t like this. He did them for His people, so that they would see, and believe and follow Him. These men were not His people, they were not of His sheep. Their hearts were hard. They wouldn’ believe no matter what Jesus did. Some people harden their hearts so much against t Christ that no amount of evidence will ever convince them that He is the Messiah. This passage stands as a warning to people like this, that they should beware that their hearts never get this hard, but turn to Him in faith before that ever happens. Matthew told us in the last verse of chapter 15, that after Jesus fed the four thousand, He then sent the multitudes away, got into a boat, and came into the region of Magadan. It’ not really clear s where Magadan was, but we do know that it was one of the coastal towns on the Sea of Galilee. Most of the evidence points to the fact that it was the same area as Magdala, which was just below Gennesaret. If this was the case, then it was only about seven miles away from Capernaum, the place where Jesus did
2 many of His miracles. And if this is correct, then all the Jews who lived in Magadan certainly knew what Jesus was doing. But yet it’ here that a group of Pharisees and Sadducees came to test Him. They s wanted Him to do some more miracles. They wanted to put Him on trial to prove to them again who He was. It wasn’ that long ago that a relative of theirs had done the very same thing. When the Spirit of t God led Jesus out into the wilderness after His baptism, he was there, ready to tempt Christ, ready to put Him on trial as well. And when he tried to tempt Him, Jesus answered him in the same way He was about to answer these Jews, “It is written, ‘ You shall not put the Lord your God to the test” (Matt. 4:7). That relative, of course, was the one who hated Jesus most of all. It was the devil. And now these Pharisees and Sadducees were showing that they were his children by doing the same things that he did. But the Lord was not going to do miracles for them either. It was wrong for them to put the Lord their God to the test. The Lord did His miracles to gather His children to Himself. He wasn’ about to do t them for those who were only looking for a reason to reject Him. These Jewish leaders were nothing but hypocrites. Their hypocrisy appears even more clearly when you consider that the Pharisees and Sadducees hated each other. Yes, they did serve together on the Sanhedrin, the governing body of Israel, but it only because they had to, if they were keep their position of honor and power. They were really divided over many things. But here was one thing they could agree on: they both hated Jesus and wanted to kill Him. Here they were willing to close ranks, if by doing so, they could somehow do away with Him. But as I said, Jesus would not give them a sign. Signs were not for hypocrites. But He did have something to say to them. Even though Jesus will very often not give men what they want, He will still give them what they need. And this is what He did here. He showed them their sin of hypocrisy. He said, “When it is evening, you say, ‘ will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’ And in the morning, It ‘ 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?” (vv. 2-3). Children, have you ever heard the saying, “Red sky in the morning, sailor take warning. Red sky at night, sailors’delight”? Did you know that you can often tell whether or not it’ going to rain by looking at the sky in the morning s and in the evening? This is the way the Lord made it. When you look at the sky in the evening and see one of those beautiful fiery red sunsets, that is a sign that there is good weather ahead. But if the sky is dark and gloomy, if it is red in the morning, that is a sign that a storm is coming. The Pharisees and Sadducees knew this. They knew how to tell the weather by looking at the sky. But somehow they couldn’ tell the signs of the times, the signs that the Messiah was here. Hadn’ the Lord given them t t signs? Yes. They were all over the place. But they were missing them. What were the signs they were missing? Well, if they had paid attention to what Daniel said in his prophecy, they would have known when He was coming. Gabriel told Daniel that it would be exactly 483 years after the decree went forth to rebuild Jerusalem (Dan. 9:24-26). If they had paid attention to what Micah wrote, they would have known where He was going to be born. He was to be born in Bethlehem of Judah (Micah 5:2). If they had listened to Isaiah, they would have known who this One was who was coming: God Himself, in human flesh (Is. 7:14; 9:6), and they would have also known that when He came, He would be saying and doing the very things that Jesus was saying and doing (Isa. 35:4-6). When the disciples of John the Baptist came to Jesus to ask Him if He was the expected One, He said, “Go and report to John what you hear and see: the blind receive sight and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them” (Matt. 11:4-5). This is exactly what Isaiah said He would do. Jesus was saying to these Pharisees and Sadducees, “How is it that you can predict the weather by looking at the sky, but you cannot see the signs that the Messiah has come?” Why couldn’ they see them? Why couldn’ they tell that this was the time the Lord had told t t them about so long ago in His Word, especially when there were others who could? Was it because they
3 really didn’ see them; they really didn’ know? No. They heard and they saw. They had enough t t evidence. That wasn’ the problem. It was a problem with their hearts. Their hearts were hard. They t didn’ want to believe. Jesus said to them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign” (v. 4). t I don’ think He means that everyone who wants to see a sign is evil. But He does mean that those who t want to use them as an excuse not to believe are. That is what these men were doing. They wanted to use the evidence to destroy the evidence. They wanted to find some way to discredit Jesus. They were doing the very thing Paul tells us in Romans 1 that the wicked will always do with the evidence: they suppress it, they hold it down, they try to cover it up. They come up with all kinds of arguments to put God out of their minds, so that they can live the kind of life they want to live, without letting God get in the way. But this is why God will one day condemn them, and why He even now is pouring out His judgment upon them. Paul writes, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them” (Rom. 1:18-19). God has shown all men that He is. Paul writes, “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse” (v. 20). He has shown them what He wants. Again Paul writes, “The Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law . . . they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness, and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them” (2:14-15). They know these things, but they will not submit to Him. And so the Lord says He will judge them for their sin. This is exactly what Jesus said to these Jews. “You asked for a sign, but I will not give you one, except for the sign of Jonah.” Jonah was a prophet would not obey the Lord when He told him to go and preach to the Ninevites. He ended up in the belly of a fish for three days and three nights. But when he was finally freed, he went and did what the Lord commanded, and the people of Ninevah repented. But Jesus was going to die on the cross and be in the grave for three days and nights. And afterwards He was going to rise again from the grave, and send His disciples to preach to the Jews. But in spite of this, most of them would not believe, and consequently, would be destroyed. The sign of Jonah was a sign of judgment to them. Jesus was going to be killed by them. But then He would rise again to judge them. This was the only sign they needed to concern themselves with. If they didn’ repent, they would be destroyed. After Jesus said this, Matthew writes, t “He left them, and went away” (v. 4). They didn’ need any more evidence. What they needed was a t change of heart. In closing, I would ask you this morning what the condition of your heart is. Do you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ? Have you accepted the evidence that the Lord has given you? He has not left Himself without witness. His evidence is everywhere. He speaks to you through His creation. Look around you. Everything He made testifies to the fact that He is. Look at the universe, at its incredible design. Look at the beauty of this world: the great mountains and valleys, the sky, the great oceans, the many kinds of plants and animals. Look at yourself. You can think. You can reason. You know that you are. Where do you think all of this came from? Do you think it made itself? How can design come from no design? How can beauty come from no beauty? How can consciousness come from nonconsciousness? How can personality come from no personality. Everything around us testifies to the fact that God is. And look at the Bible. The same God who made all things has also revealed Himself in that book. The Bible tells us why God made us. It tells us why He takes care of us. It tells us why we have all the problems with sin that we have. It tells us what He will do to us because of our sin. But it also tells us what He has done to free us from our sin, in His Son Jesus Christ. The Bible is a powerful witness to God’ truth. God has shown us that it is His Word through fulfilled prophecy and through s His miracles. Do we really need more proof? But He has given us one more witness, the One whose
4 testimony we must have and accept before we will ever stop trying to argue against these others, and that is the testimony of the Holy Spirit. God sent Him into the world to convince the world of His truth. He is here right now, bearing witness to the fact that this is God’ Word. If you have never received His s testimony before, I would urge you to receive it now. If He is speaking to your heart now, do not resist Him, but turn to the Lord Jesus Christ in faith and turn from your sins. This is the only way you will ever be saved from God’ judgment. Believe on the Lord Jesus, and receive eternal life. s But for those of you who do believe in the Lord Jesus this morning, I think that this passage gives you a good opportunity to reflect upon the great sign, the great evidence that the Lord has given to you that He loves you and that you are His children: It is the love which He put in your hearts for Him and for His Son Jesus. We must not forget that we were born with hard hearts, just like the rest of the world. We weren’ born Christians. We were also God’ t s enemies. But He had mercy on us and saved us. He sent His Spirit into our hearts to change them so that we would love Him. We didn’ believe because we were smarter than anyone else. t We didn’ trust in Jesus because we were wiser. We didn’ love Him because our hearts were t t larger and fuller. We love because He first loved us. The sign He gives us to show that He loves us, is our love for Him. It is the evidence or the proof that He really does love us and has saved us. Do we really need anything more? Do we need to pray for another revelation from heaven? Do we need anything more to remove our doubts? No. We don’ need any more proof. Let us t accept His testimony in our hearts. Let this be our encouragement day by day as we struggle with our sins and try to serve Him. Let this be what strengthens our hearts during the darkest times. May the Lord apply His Word to our hearts this morning as we need to hear it. Amen.