JESUS ON SIGNS & WONDERS -   MATTHEW 16:1-4
An Inductive Bible Study

The Pharisees & Sadducees come to Jesus and ask for a sign from heaven

1   The Pharisees and Sadducees came [to Jesus] and asked him to show them a sign from heaven.

2   Jesus replied to them, saying:

     “ At sunset you say ‘It’ll be a good day [tomorrow] because the sky is red’  and

3   "At dawn you say ‘It’s [will be] stormy today, because the sky is dark and red.’      
     You know how to predict the weather/the appearance of the heavens but you can’t discern the signs of the times."

4   "A wicked and adulterous generation seek a sign. The only sign they will be given will be the sign of Jonah*.”
     And he left and went away.

* MATTHEW 12:38 The Sign of Jonah Explained-

38 At that time some of the Scribes and Pharisees replied to him, saying:

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

39 Jesus said in reply:

    “A wicked and adulterous generation looks for a sign; the only sign they will be given is the sign of Jonah the prophet.

40 For just as Jonah was in the belly of the whale three days and three nights, so the Son of Man will be in the heart of the earth three days and three nights.”

MATTHEW 24:4-5, 23-25  Jesus’ Warning Against Being Deceived By False Messiahs & Prophets

4   Jesus answered:  “Watch out that no one deceives you.

5   For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many.” [..............................]

23 “At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah!’ or, ‘There he is!’ do not believe it.

24 For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.

25 See, I have told you ahead of time.”

JOHN 4:46-54

46 Jesus came again to Cana of Galilee, where he turned the water to wine. A royal official’s son was sick in Capernaum.

47 When he heard that Jesus had come from Judaea to Galilee, he went to Jesus and asked him to come down and heal his son because he was about to die.

48 Jesus said to him: “You will not believe unless you see signs and wonders.”

49 The royal official said to him: “LORD come down before my little boy dies.”

50 Jesus said to him: “Go! Your son is alive.”

     The man believed the word Jesus spoke to him and began to go.

51 And as he was going his slaves met him and said that his son was alive.

52 He ascertained from them the time at which his son began to improve and they said that the fever left him the day before at the seventh hour.

53 The father realised that was the exact hour that Jesus said: “Your son is alive!”  and he himself and his whole household believed.

LUKE 16:31

31 “If they do not believe Moses and the Prophets, they will not believe, even if someone were to rise from the dead.”

OBSERVATION 

Q  What do the texts say?

  1. Jesus says a wicked and adulterous generation look for signs and wonders MATTHEW 12:39; MATTHEW 16:4

  2. Jesus warns that false prophets and false Messiahs will perform great signs and wonders with the aim of deceiving even God’s chosen ones, if that were possible  MATTHEW 24:24

  3. Jesus says that people will not believe unless they see signs and wonders JOHN 4:48

  4. Jesus says the only sign he will give them is the sign of Jonah, which he explains in MATTHEW 12:39-40

  5. In LUKE 16:31 Jesus says that if people do not believe Moses and the Prophets (ie The Bible), they will not believe even if someone were to rise from the dead.

INTERPRETATION   

Q What do the texts mean?

MATTHEW 16:1-4

1 The Pharisees and Sadducees ask Jesus to show them a sign from heaven.

2 Jesus’ answer is: A wicked and adulterous generation look for a sign.

3 The only sign they will be given is the sign of Jonah.

Q  What is the sign of Jonah?

A MATTHEW 12:38-40

The Son of Man will be in the heart of the earth three days and three nights

ie Jesus’ burial and resurrection is the only sign needed to believe who he said he is.

POINT:

  1. Looking for signs and wonders is a sign of a wicked and adulterous generation.

  2. Just believe as a result of Jesus’ fulfilment of his prophecy of burial and resurrection

MATTHEW 24:4-5, 23-25

1 Jesus warns the disciples not to be deceived by false messiahs and false prophets.

2 In the last days false prophets and false messiahs will perform great signs and wonders with the aim of deceiving even God’s chosen ones, if that were possible.

3 He adds: You have been warned!

POINT:

1 There will be false messiahs and false prophets who will try to deceive the gullible.

2 They will use great signs and wonders to do so.

3 Don’t be fooled by seeking signs and wonders – you have been warned!

JOHN 4:48

1 Jesus says: “Unless you see signs and wonders, you won’t believe.”
2 Jesus heals a little boy and the man and whole household believe.
3  Jesus warns people not to place their faith in signs and wonders.

LUKE 16:31

Jesus says that if people do not believe the Written Word of God (Moses and The Prophets), they will not believe even if someone were to rise from the dead.

POINT:

1 No amount of signs and wonders will convince people to put their faith in Jesus.
2 If they don’t believe the Bible, they will not believe in Jesus, even if [Jesus] were to rise from the dead.

APPLICATION   
Q What do the texts mean for us?

Jesus says clearly that seeking signs and wonders is the sign of a wicked and adulterous generation. It seems clear that we are not to seek signs and wonders for their own sake, because it is a sign of the fleshly desire for thrills and the spectacular, which will draw our focus away from God and onto the flesh or worse.

The reason, Jesus says, is that there are plenty of people in the world who are out to trap the gullible by using counterfeit signs and wonders on a large scale and will use his name to do so.
The only sign that Jesus says he will give is the sign of Jonah – and he explains this means his death, burial and resurrection after three days and nights.

Many Christians in recent years have gone to large-scale rallies and revival meetings where self-styled evangelists and healers have claimed to perform great signs and wonders in Jesus’ name.

The claims of these self-styled miracle workers are usually unsubstantiated by clear evidence and their behaviour and lifestyles have frequently been exposed as ungodly, involving sexual immorality, false claims of healings and other miracles, and even fraudulent use of the money raised to fund their own luxurious lifestyles.

Question:

How is it that so many otherwise mature Christians, including leaders, can be fooled by these things? 

Answer:

Because they failed to heed Jesus’ warnings

1. Don’t go looking for signs and wonders because there are folk out there determined to deceive the gullible, who are looking for cheap thrills and the spectacular. Some of the so-called signs and wonders

are simply enemy counterfeits or a result of crowd manipulation techniques practised by hypnotists and charlatans.

2. God will sometimes confirm the preaching of his Word with signs and wonders following, but the preaching of the Word is the purpose, not the seeking of miracles.

3. The Word of God – The Bible – is the only thing we need for putting our faith in Jesus Christ as Messiah and Saviour of the world.

4. If people don’t believe what they read in the Bible, no amount of signs and wonders will convince them to put their faith in Jesus, who rose from the dead as he had promised. ph/16/11/10

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