Read Matthew 16 at Bible Gateway.
Then the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and testing Him asked that He would show them a sign from heaven. He answered and said to them, “When it is evening you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red’; and in the morning, ‘It will be foul weather today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ Hypocrites! You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the times. A wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign shall be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.” And He left them and departed. Mat 16:1-4
Why does Jesus say that the Pharisees and Sadducees are of a wicked and adulterous generation? Because they are asking to see a sign. Jesus has been doing nothing BUT signs which proclaim who He is, since Mat 4:23. He has:
1) Taught with authority (Mat 7:28-29)
2) Healed all who were sick (Mat 4:23-25 and in many places following)
3) Made uncleanness clean (Mat 8:1-4)
4) Commanded the natural elements (Mat 8:23-27)
5) Cast out demons (Mat 8:28-34 and many other places)
6) Forgiven sins (Mat 9:1-2)
7) Brought sinners to repentance (Mat 9:9-13)
8) Raised the dead (Mat 9:18-26)
9) Fed five thousand men with five loaves and two fish (Mat 14:13-21)
10) Walked on water (Mat 14:22-33)
All throughout the accomplishment of these signs, people were talking about who He is. John the Baptist asked Him outright through his disciples while he was in prison, and Jesus’ answer to him was, the works speak for themselves. Those who believed the LORD God of Israel, recognized the message of the signs. They were centurions, tax collectors and sinners, fishermen, Canaanite women, and the lost sheep of the house of Israel, in all the ways that they were oppressed.
Shortly after the Pharisees and Sadducees were unable to read the signs that were shouting before their faces, Jesus asked His disciples who they thought He was. This is essentially what the Pharisees and Sadducees were asking also. They were looking for Jesus to declare Himself the prophesied Messiah, the Son of David, by performing a miraculous sign. Jesus’ disciples proclaimed that they believed He was the prophesied Messiah (without asking for a miraculous sign), for which they were blessed.
Now why did Jesus seek to NOT be acknowledged? When He did miracles, He commanded them to tell no one about it. When He was asked point blank who He was, He did not answer directly, but indirectly through the miracles themselves. You know, His time had not yet come. The time is coming when it will be loudly and unmistakenly proclaimed that HERE IS THE WORD OF GOD, the SON OF DAVID, YHVH INCARNATE. Every knee will bow then.
But by not declaring Himself openly, men have to make up their own minds about Him. The plants which the heavenly Father has planted, recognize Him — even if they are a Gentile centurion, even if they are a tax collector, even if they are an uneducated fisherman, even if they are a Canaanite woman. Those the heavenly Father has not planted, do not recognize Him, and they will be uprooted — even if they are scribes and Pharisees.
This is the same mistake Pharaoh made. He did not recognize the message of the signs that were being proclaimed in front of his face (Exo 6-12). Let us not make the same mistake, but let us recognize the message of the signs which proclaim the finger of YHVH among us!
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