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Midweek Devotionals

Published weekly on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursdays.

Midweek Devotional 10/28/14

Robert Chen

Dear Church:

LUKE 11:27-36

27While he was saying this, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to him, "Blessed is the womb that bore you and the breasts that nursed you!" 28But he said, "Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it!"

29When the crowds were increasing, he began to say, "This generation is an evil generation; it asks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah. 30For just as Jonah became a sign to the people of Nineveh, so the Son of Man will be to this generation. 31The queen of the South will rise at the judgment with the people of this generation and condemn them, because she came from the ends of the earth to listen to the wisdom of Solomon, and see, something greater than Solomon is here! 32The people of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the proclamation of Jonah, and see, something greater than Jonah is here!

33"No one after lighting a lamp puts it in a cellar, but on the lampstand so that those who enter may see the light. 34Your eye is the lamp of your body. If your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light; but if it is not healthy, your body is full of darkness. 35Therefore consider whether the light in you is not darkness. 36If then your whole body is full of light, with no part of it in darkness, it will be as full of light as when a lamp gives you light with its rays."

Proof texting is the practice of using isolated quotations from a document to establish a position. Biblical proof texting is this practice to establish a theological position.


I remember in the 1990's in seminary and in ministry I would sometimes hear from those who opposed "charismatic" experiences that the Bible itself warned against "signs and wonders." A passage like Luke 11:29 would be quoted to prove this view -- that it is an evil generation that asks for a sign. 


All out of context. If the Bible rejected signs and wonders, (1) why did Jesus perform them in the first place? and (2) why do we have passages like the following from the Apostle Paul from Romans 15:18-19? -- "I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me in leading the Gentiles to obey God by what I have said and done -- by the power of signs and wonders, through the power of the Spirit of God."


The Bible holds some truths in tension. But the Bible is not contradictory. If the Bible is contradictory, then anything goes. In fact, a contradiction in any system is fatal and the contradictory system (of thought) is committed to accepting all statements whatsoever.


[One of my favorite logical proofs is the ex falso quodlibet "from a falsehood, anything follows": 


A and ~A [not A] (Contradiction) {This is a symbolic way of saying you have a contradiction}

A (Simplification)

A or B (Addition)

~A (Simplification)

B (Disjunctive Elimination)


Therefore, A and ~A entails B (which stands for whatever statement)]


If the Bible is not contradictory, then how are we to interpret Luke 11:29? The answer lies in how some of Jesus' listeners responded to Jesus. Some of them tested Him. Not to change their minds based on sincere inquiry. But tested Jesus to expose possible fraud. In Luke 11:16, Mt 12:38, Mk 8:11, in addition to Luke 11:29, some of the people demanded "signs" from Jesus to prove Himself. 


Their motivation was all wrong. Hence Jesus tells them in the above passage that He will not give any sign, except the sign of Jonah. Aha! The sign of Jonah! We all know, as Jesus' listeners knew, what "the sign of Jonah" was and is! Correct?


What in the world is the sign of Jonah? In a parallel passage, Mt. 12:40, Jesus says, "For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth."


The sign of Jonah is, in reality, the greatest sign and wonder ever: the very Death and Resurrection of Jesus. This is the greatest "sign" that validates the true identity of Jesus the Messiah, the vindicated Son of God. So an evil generation did in fact get what it wanted -- a sign


Alas, even this sign wasn't enough for some. Perhaps one of the greatest signs and wonders is the miraculous power of a hardened heart.


Let's pray: Lord Jesus, we want our hearts to be pure, pure in motivation and pure in loving you. We confess that the greatest sign and wonder has already occurred in your Resurrection. We confess that signs and wonders still take place through the power of the Holy Spirit. May your love and power be continually displayed in our lives. In Your Name, Amen.