Matthew Chapter 12:38-45

Matthew 12:38-39. Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from thee. But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas:

The queen of Sheba did not ask for a sign. She did not expect Solomon to work a miracle; but, sitting down in his presence, she proposed her hard questions, and meekly awaited his answers. So should these scribes and Pharisees have done with the Lord Jesus Christ. These were his signs: —

Matthew 12:40-41. For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here.

Jonas was a servant: Jesus was the Master. Jonas preached only one sermon: Jesus preached many. That sermon was a short one: Jesus Christ laboured long after souls. Jonas was a man full of infirmities, and with an unloving heart: Jesus was tender and compassionate. Jonas did but hurry through the streets, crying, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown,” — without a word of mercy: Jesus lived long among the people, giving them directions, and warnings, and invitations to seek and find salvation: “Behold, a greater than Jonas is here.”

Matthew 12:42. The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for she came from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here.

As I have so recently preached upon this verse, I need not say anything about it just now.

Matthew 12:43. When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, —

Mark, not when he is turned out of him by superior force, but when he has gone out of his own accord, —

Matthew 12:43. He walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none.

The devil was in the Jews of old, but he went out of them at the time of the Babylonian captivity; that heavy punishment cured them of idolatry. But the devil could never find a resting-place, in Gentile hearts, so pleasant to himself as among God’s own people.

Matthew 12:44. Then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished.

“I will go back to those Jews,” saith the devil; and, when he comes back, he finds them without any true love to God: “empty, swept, and garnished.” See how correctly the Pharisee is dressed, and note with what sanctimonious unction he repeats his hypocritical prayers. He fasts twice in the week, and pays tithes of his mint, and anise, and cummin. The devil finds the house “empty, swept, garnished ;” and as he does not care whether he lives in a foul heart or a clean one, so long as he can but live in it, he takes up his abode there again.

Matthew 12:45. Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first.

If idolatry did not come back to the Jews, the devil of pride, and self-conceit, and many more came, and fought against the Son of God, so that they became worse than they were before, and the first devil of the Jewish people was nothing compared with the seven devils which afterwards possessed them. We have seen some men of this kind. Under temporary conviction, they have given up certain outward sins, but, afterwards, they have been ten times worse than they were before. We have known a man to be a drunkard, and we have rejoiced to see him leave his cups; but, yet, when he has made a self-righteousness out of his temperance, and set himself up against God and his truth, we have verily believed that he has had within him seven devils worse than the first. A man may reform himself to blacker stains, and wash himself with the waters of his self-righteousness till he becomes more hard to cleanse than he would have been at the first. Oh, for the mighty hand of One, who is stronger than the prince of hell, to throw the devil out, and then he will never come back again; but if he goes out by mere human persuasion, or by our own wills and wishes, he will most certainly come back to us. If the Holy Ghost turns him out, he will never gain an entrance any more.

Matthew 12:45. Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation.

This exposition consisted of readings from 1Ki 10:1-13; and Matthew 12:38-45.

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