Son of God: The Son of the Father in the Spirit

Christological heresy arises through failing to affirm of Christ all that Scripture asserts: by either denying the divine or human nature at the expense of the other, confusing or conflating his natures, or dividing his person. I remember Sinclair Ferguson teaching at PRTS on the importance of knowing Jesus Christ to the ends of the page found in chapter 8 of the Westminster Confession of Faith, but then strongly warning us, anything beyond that page is heresy. Looking back to that lesson from 2010, it still surprises me that I receive more questions regarding Christology than any other loci. Just like the title Son of Man, the scope of Son of God encompasses Jesus’ humanity as well as deity. Jesus Christ is both the eternal Son and the true and faithful human son; he is both the one who speaks the divine law and the one who answers the summons with perfect obedience for us.

Sonship: Ontological and Official

The New Testament claims Adamic and Abrahamic senses of sonship for Christ: he is Son upon condition of obedience, according to the image of God, and he is Son unconditionally and forever—except that in the latter sense, Jesus’ unique divine sonship is not by grace but is his very nature as the one and only Word and Son, eternally begotten of the Father (e.g., Matt. 22:41–46; John 1:1–3, 14, 18). The narratives of Jesus’ baptism and transfiguration, Paul’s consistent witness to the humbled and exalted Lord (e.g., Rom. 1:3–6; 8:3–4; Gal. 4:4–5; Phil. 2:5–11; Col. 1:15–17, 18–23), and many similar passages clearly testify to the character of Jesus’ relationship with the Father and the Spirit, as the fully divine and fully human Son of God.

Preexistent Son

The trajectory of liberal theology since the Enlightenment has been essentially Arian (or Adoptionist, discussed below). In this view, “the Jesus of history” was a pious rabbi who was transformed into “the Christ of faith” through the influence of Greek philosophy on developing Christian orthodoxy. Yet even critical scholarship has found no basis for any sharp distinction between Jewish and Hellenistic Christologies in the early church. Jesus was crucified for claiming equality with God; he claimed to be “Lord” prior to David (Matt. 22:41–45), the “Word” prior to creation, and the “I AM” prior to Abraham (John 8:58). The New Testament authors urge faith in and worship of the man Jesus as God and Lord. The doctrine of the incarnation is the center of Christology, bringing together Scripture’s testimony to the full humanity and full deity of Jesus Christ, as summarized in the Definition of Chalcedon (451).

Exegetical Summary

While the Word “was” God (John 1:1), he “became” flesh (v. 14) by taking to himself our human nature in all its aspects in Mary’s womb, yet he was without sin (Heb. 4:15), by the power of the Spirit. Each nature is entirely preserved in its distinctness, in an incomprehensibly intimate union in and as one integral person, Jesus Christ. Scripture gives no place to a view of Christ that pits his divine nature against his humanity, nor assigns some actions of Christ to one nature and some to the other. Jesus, God and man, does all things from the Father by the Spirit. Likewise, Jesus’ growth and limitations and temptations were real; without surrendering or compromising his divinity, the Son fully assumed our humanity and redeemed us in and through it.

Dogmatic Development

This section concerns the main traditional heretical christological views, rather than specific persons who may be associated with them. As with the doctrine of the Trinity, the formal delineation of Christology arose, not from academic or philosophical speculation, but from the concrete faith and practice of the Christian community. The chief historical heresies regarding denial of the incarnation (defined above) are the Ebionite heresy, Adoptionism, Docetism, Gnosticism, and Arianism. The chief heresies regarding the relation between Christ’s divinity and humanity in one person (also defined above) are Apollinarianism, Monophysitism (or Eutychianism), and Nestorianism. The Monophysite and Nestorian heresies represent the extremes of two tendencies of christological reflection: the Alexandrian and Antiochene, respectively. Alexandrian Christologies tend to emphasize the unity of Christ’s person, sometimes to the extent that his humanity is absorbed into his divinity. Antiochene Christologies, on the other hand, emphasize the distinction of Christ’s natures, sometimes to the point that Christ seems to be two persons acting in tandem, one divine and one human. The Council of Chalcedon condemned both views, affirming the ancient catholic consensus that Christ is one person in two natures. During the Reformation, as a result of controversy over the Lord’s Supper, the Reformed came to suspect Lutherans of Monophysitism (because they affirmed the omnipresence of Christ according to both natures), while the Lutherans suspected the Reformed of Nestorianism (because they affirmed the omnipresence of Christ’s divine nature only). The Lutheran-Reformed debate turns on two key concerns: (1) the communicatio idiomatum and (2) the extra CalvinisticumWith the rise of Socinianism and then Protestant liberalism, Arianism returned to the fore; often by way of either Nestorian or Monophysite trajectories, Jesus’ true and full divinity was rejected.

Barth did much to revive a salutary emphasis on Christology “from above,” stressing that God was at work in Christ for redemption and that the Son is eternally divine and became fully human (but not without problematic elements in his views). Theologians like Karl Rahner and Wolfhart Pannenberg have come from a different direction in line with broader modern trends, emphasizing Christology “from below” by beginning with the character of Jesus’ humanity to illuminate the character of his divinity. The latter approach, however, tends to end up with a divinized man who is quantitatively, rather than qualitatively, distinct from all other persons. Only in the distinctiveness of each nature, united in one person, do we find the complete Savior who can bring total redemption from sin and death.


Christ’s Threefold Office

Christ as Prophet
The prophetic vocation is not only to accurately predict future events, but more fundamentally, to speak God’s actual judgment and deliverance into history. Although Jesus is the “prophet like Moses” promised in Deuteronomy 18:15, he is not simply another Moses. He speaks on his own authority, which is the same as the Father’s; he forgives sins in his own person; he not only has stood in God’s counsel but has eternally and personally come from God. Jesus speaks God’s active word as the prophets did, but wholly unlike them, he is himself the hypostatic Word of God. He is the message as well as the messenger.

Christ as Priest
Christ’s priestly ministry is inseparable from his representation of the elect in the eternal covenant of redemption. Christ was “born under the law”—whether the covenant of creation or its recapitulation at Sinai—“to redeem those who were under the law” (Gal. 4:4–5 ESV).

A. Christ’s Priestly Life

Jesus was appointed everlasting High Priest “after the order of Melchizedek” (Heb. 5:6, 10 ESV)—that is, according to the “better covenant” of God’s unchangeable oath to Abraham rather than the Mosaic covenant’s Levitical priesthood, which depended on the mediation of sinful human beings (Heb. 7:11–22).

Jesus is both the great High Priest and the spotless, once-and-for-all sacrifice for sin. Beginning with the incarnation, he continually accomplished his Father’s will on our behalf as the unsurpassable thank offering. This is his active obedience or law-keeping (Matt. 20:28; John 8:29; Heb. 10:7). Simultaneously, he bore our sins—especially the curse of sin and God’s wrath for sin—as the unrepeatable guilt offering. This is his passive obedience or suffering.

Christ’s Priestly Death: The Meaning of the Cross

While the event of the cross cannot be divorced from the accounts of Christ’s life, teaching, and ministry that precede it in the Gospels, none of the other important aspects of Christ’s saving work can be established unless his death is acknowledged as a vicarious substitution of himself in the place of sinners. Christ’s cross is a sacrifice and satisfaction for sin. Though God’s sinful, covenant-breaking people could do nothing to reconcile themselves to God or avoid his sentence of just condemnation for unfaithfulness, Jesus offered himself on our behalf to usher in the new covenant whose standing is dependent on his steadfastness rather than ours. Blood atonement lies at the heart of both the offense and the wonder of the Christian proclamation. God’s motive is not abstract or arbitrary (much less bloodthirsty); sacrifice for sin and loving gratitude to God are fundamental to the covenantal context of God’s holy and righteous law. The substitutional nature of sacrifice is clearly seen in the Mosaic law’s description of the transference of sin and guilt before God to sacrificial animals (e.g., Lev. 1:4; 4:20, 26, 31; 6:7), vicariously representing the worshipers and their need for atonement. In Christ’s life and death, we have a thank offering that restores what we owe to God and a guilt offering that propitiates God’s wrath.

Christ’s cross is also a military conquest—despite all appearances, Christ was the victorious King even when Satan and the powers of this evil age thought they had won their age-old war with God. The meaning of the cross is multifaceted. All of the following have been proposed as theories of the atonement, and while each by itself has significant problems, several identify something important about Christ’s work—although the truth in any of them hangs together only in light of the cross as a propitiatory sacrifice.

  • Ransom theory—Because of human rebellion, Satan became our rightful lord; Christ triumphed over Satan by luring him into the trap of killing him at the cross (thinking Jesus was a mere man), though he would triumph in resurrection (through his deity).
  • Recapitulation—Christ redeems by becoming the true Adam and representing in himself the true life of humanity before God on our behalf, even unto death.
  • Christus Victor—Through the seeming defeat of the cross, Christ conquered all the demonic and sinful powers arrayed against God.
  • Satisfaction theory—Christ’s crucifixion was his just payment for sin’s affront to God’s dignity and majesty.
  • Moral influence theory—Peter Abelard’s view, taken up by Socinians and many Enlightenment thinkers, that the purpose of Christ’s death was to provide a powerful example of God’s love for sinners that would provoke our repentance and imitation.
  • Governmental theory—Hugo Grotius’s view that Christ’s death is not substitutionary or atoning but rather the basis on which the righteous character of God’s will and his rule are exhibited.

In modern theologies, various versions of the moral influence and governmental theories have dominated, in principle or in practice. These views have gone hand in hand with a denial or downplaying of the doctrine of justification—forgiveness is necessary only in light of real personal transgression. In all of their iterations, they rest on three false premises.

  1. A denial of God’s wrath and the necessity of his justice being satisfied.
  2. A rejection of the possibility of vicarious substitution in the relationship between God and sinners.
  3. An emphasis on the exemplary, at the expense of the expiatory, character of Christ’s death.

We should therefore bear the following points in mind when defending the doctrine of substitutionary atonement. The cause of the atonement lies in God’s own pleasure and love; God’s free expression of his love and mercy, as well as his holiness, justice, and wrath, flow from his own character, and none can be pitted against the others. Sin is not merely a weakness that needs to be reformed but also a guilt that is incurred, invoking covenant sanctions. The atonement is grounded not only in God’s moral character and freedom but in the united determination of the persons of the Trinity; vicarious atonement is misunderstood as a vengeful Father taking out his rage on a passive Son. Christ’s sacrifice is both a guilt offering and a thank offering, a whole life of representative service.

Finally, the question of the extent of the atonement has been answered in three ways in the history of the church: universalism, hypothetical universalism, or definite (limited) atonement (defined above). The following are the two main arguments in favor of definite atonement. It emphasizes the relationship between the Trinity and redemption; those who are actually redeemed in time have been mercifully chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world. It emphasizes the efficacy and objectivity of Christ’s saving work; Christ did not die for the abstract possibility of the redemption of sinners (although his death is sufficient to atone for all sin whatsoever); rather, he died for the concrete accomplishment of the redemption of everyone who belongs to him.

Jesus & the Church

Key Points During this Time

  • Christianity developed within the community of Jesus’ earliest disciples on the basis of core Jewish beliefs, as interpreted and exemplified according to Jesus’ teaching, ministry, crucifixion, and resurrection.
  • The most significant controversy in the very early Christian church concerned the terms by which Gentiles would be accepted into the community.
  • With the church’s expansion from Jerusalem, traditions about the work of particular apostles became associated with specific locales by the end of the first century, most notably: James in Jerusalem; Peter and Paul in Rome; John in Ephesus; and Thomas in Syria.
  • Early Christianity was not uniform, yet a common faith in Jesus and a common core of apostolic traditions helped shape a specifically Christian set of doctrinal commitments, worship practices, and ethical expectations.
The Apostle Paul

The Apostle Paul

Jesus’ first-century ministry of healing and teaching not only attracted large crowds, but he also gathered a number of disciples with whom he worked closely. Many acclaimed him as the Messiah, the Lord’s “anointed” who would deliver God’s people, Israel. After the Romans put Jesus to death as a political threat, reports of his resurrection led his disciples to become convinced that God had vindicated him as Messiah (Christ), and the events of Jesus’ atoning death and subsequent resurrection became the pillars of Christian faith. Early Christian beliefs, worship, and ethical practices owed much to the traditions of Judaism, to which were added distinctive Christian convictions about the role of Jesus Christ as the world’s savior.

The early church in Jerusalem consisted mainly of Jewish believers, though they were a diverse lot; some were Judaean, but many were Hellenistic Jews from the Diaspora. They looked to Peter and then James, the brother of Jesus, for leadership. Once persecution at the hands of the Jewish establishment broke out against Jesus’ followers in Jerusalem, the Hellenists in particular were scattered, taking the message of Jesus’ gospel (or euangelion, meaning “good news”) into the synagogues of many different cities of the Roman world. Soon, even large numbers of Gentiles were being attracted by the Christian message and lifestyle, causing the most significant controversy for the church of that era: the terms by which Gentiles should be received into the church. The Apostle Paul effectively championed a liberal position on the issue, with the result that Gentile Christians were in the majority by the end of the first century.

Fairly strong evidence supports the tradition that both Paul and Peter ended up in Rome and were martyred there under the emperor Nero. Peter probably played a significant leading role in the church at Rome, though the claims that Peter was the “pope” are anachronistic. Other locations came to be associated with the work of specific apostles, namely John in Ephesus and Thomas in Syria. The church at Ephesus may have been the most influential church of the mid- to late-first century, very likely the point of origin of some or all of the Johaninne literature of the New Testament. Strong traditions also place Jesus’ mother Mary in Ephesus, under the care of John. East of Antioch, the gospel spread among communities of Syriac-speaking people, whose traditions preserved certain Semitic features and a literature with strong ties to the name of the Apostle Thomas.

First-century Christian communities were diverse. Yet they enjoyed a significant measure of unity, due to a common faith in Jesus, a shared heritage in Judaism, a core of apostolic teaching, and habits of frequent travel and communication between churches. Out of this matrix arose characteristics that would come to distinguish churches far and wide, such as a shared commitment to interpret the Old Testament scriptures in light of Christ, baptism, the Lord’s Supper, Sunday assemblies, and moral emphases.

What was the Puritans view regarding the Eternal Generation of the Son?

The Son’s generation was connected to the idea that the Father is the fountain of all deity (fons totius Deitatis). Thomas Goodwin uses this term, but he was always careful to insist that the Son and Spirit were “very God of very God”. Leigh speaks of the order of the persons to explain the doctrine, “the Father is the first person from himself, not from another both in respect of his Essence and person. The Son is the second Person, from his Father in respect of his Person and filiation, existing by eternal generation, after an ineffable manner (and is so called God of God) by reason of his Essence he is God himself. The Holy Spirit is the third person proceeding from the Father and the Son in respect of his person.” Leigh refers to the Nicene Creed to referring to the Son as (“God of God”) to speak of the Son’s eternal generation. Thomas Goodwin likewise argues for the “begottenness” or “eternal generation” of the Son based upon the Father communicating to the Son the whole indivisible substance of the Godhead.

What is With All this Gospel Talk?

“Almost everyone uses the word “gospel” in both a religious and a secular way. In the religious world it is used often without any real consensus as to what is meant by the term. Even when the word “gospel” is proposed as a biblically based term, there are some significant differences among, say, a Christadelphian, an evangelical, and a liberal view of gospel. Among evangelicals there are also differences in the way he word is used. It is a matter for some concern that some books and study courses on evangelism seen to assume that every Christian is absolutely clear about what the gospel is, and that what is needed most is help in the techniques of explaining the gospel to unbelievers. Experience suggests that this assumption is poorly based and that there is a great deal of confusion among believers about what the gospel is. Preachers may have a theoretical gospel and an operative gospel. Theoretically we will get into a theological mode and produce, as far as possible, a biblically based notion focusing on the person and work of Christ. But in pastoral practice it is easy to be pragmatic. Our operative gospel will be the thing that preoccupies us as the focus of our preaching and teaching. It may be a particular hobbyhorse or a denominational distinctive. Baptism, a particular view of the second coming, social action, creationism, spiritual gifts, and the like are all easily raised to the status of gospel by becoming the main focus of our preaching. This is especially deplorable when these spurious gospels are made the basis of our acceptance of other Christians.”

“The gospel is the message about Jesus in his life, death, and resurrection.”

Graeme Goldsworthy, Preaching the Whole Bible as Christian Scripture, pp. 81-83.

The Greater Jonah, God’s Great Sign

The past three weeks I have continued to blog upon points from Matthew 16:1-4. This is the fourth and final post over the passage that I have to write. Taking speical notice this time to Jesus’ words in verse four and its ending, “Except the Sign of Jonah.” Matthew 16:1-4 reads;

“1 And the Pharisees, together with the Sadducees, came, and tempting desired that he would show them a sign from heaven. 2 But he answering said to them, About the commencement of the evening you say, It will be fine weather; for the sky is red. 3 And in the morning, There will be a storm to-day; for the sky is red and lowring. Hypocrites, you can judge aright of the face of the sky; but can you not judge of the signs of the times? 4 A wicked and adulterous nation demands a sign, and no sign shall be given to it but the sign of the prophet Jonah. And he left them, and departed.”

Jesus says to the Pharisees “expect the sign of Jonah.” Where has one heard this saying before, better is the question, where have they the Pharisees heard such language before? Just weeks earlier Matthew records for us a similar account of Jesus Christ and the Pharisees. There the same language is used in Matthew 12:38-40, it reads,

Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered him, saying, Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you.” But he answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it expect the sign of the prophet Jonah. He goes one to say, For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”

But what does this mean and why would Jesus continue to respond with the same answer? Why does Christ say to the Pharisees and Sadducees that “no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah.” Christ reminds them of a pervious sign that had been given to before them. The Pharisees and Sadducees would have known this story well, but yet Christ sees fit to remind them of this particular sign given by God. The sign was a prophet named Jonah who would become swallowed up in the belly of a great fish for three days and nights and as the fish could not hold him he would then be spit out of its mouth onto the land to preach the salvation of God to the Ninevites. The Ninevites, one of the oldest and greatest cities in antiquity, an important religious center for worship of the pagan Assyrian Ishtar, the capital of the Neo-Assyrain Empire, and worse of all a Gentile nation? How offensive to the Jews, that God’s signs and salvation be offered to gentiles.

Christ refers them to the sign of Jonah, which should be obvious to us now, because like that of Jonah, there would be a similar sign, but a greater sign to come. A Sign sent by God, who was not only a Prophet like Jonah, but like that of all the old signs; a Priest like Aaron, a Mediator like Moses, and a King like David. This sign, the Prophet, like Jonah would as well be swallowed up, but not by the belly of a fish, but by the belly of Hell. There He would suffer departure not from just mankind like Jonah, but the departure, wrath, and separation from His very father God, but in three days and night He would rise again, and as hell could not hold Him, he would be spit form its mouth back to His Father’s Kingdom for the sake of you and I, compelling His disciples to preach salvation of God to who? All the Nations, both the Jews and Gentiles. Here Christ threatens, after he has risen from the dead, he will be a prophet like Jonah. He will be the Greater Jonah, for there need be no greater sign until His return, for God’s sign has been given in Jesus Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection. The message today is the same as Jonah’s, repent, believer and follow Him, Christ is God’s Great Sign.

However, the text here ends sadly, and is broke off abruptly by Christ. Matthew records in this text, “he (Christ) left them and departed.” Like the Pharisees and Sadducees, Christ will not tarry long with those that tempt Him, but justly withdraws from those that are disposed to fight with Him. He simply let them alone the Scripture says. Jesus Christ let them be themselves, left them in their own counsels, and gave them up to their own hearts’ lusts. The meaning of this for us you ask? Thus He intended to serve as a sign to them, that He, Jesus Christ, when he had risen from the dead, would in every place cause the voice of His Gospel to be distinctly heard. Thus we see the Pharisees and Sadducees seeking after signs, but yet missing the Sign, The Greater Jonah, God’s Sign Jesus Christ.

A Wicked & Adulterous Nation Demands a Sign

The past two weeks I have been taking an expositional and applicable look at Matthew 16 verses one through four, just one of Jesus’ encounters with the Pharisees. This week I am going to continue to do the same, taking a look specifically at verse four where it reads “An Evil and Adulterous Generation Seeks for a Sign.” Matthew 16:1-4 reads in its entirety;

“1 And the Pharisees, together with the Sadducees, came, and tempting desired that he would show them a sign from heaven. 2 But he answering said to them, About the commencement of the evening you say, It will be fine weather; for the sky is red. 3 And in the morning, There will be a storm to-day; for the sky is red and lowring. Hypocrites, you can judge aright of the face of the sky; but can you not judge of the signs of the times? 4 A wicked and adulterous nation demands a sign, and no sign shall be given to it but the sign of the prophet Jonah. And he left them, and departed.”

One question that comes to mind after reading, why would Christ call them an “evil and adulterous generation?” He did not accuse them of being guilty of physical adultery, but of spiritual adultery (Isa. 57; James 4:4). These men were worshiping a false god of their own manufacture, and this was spiritual adultery to Christ. Had they been worshiping the true God, they would have recognized the Sign, His Son when He came. The Pharisees and Sadducees were never satisfied with any signs, but continued their own wicked desires to tempted God. John Calvin writes about this matter saying,

“He (Christ) does not call them an adulterous nation merely because they demand some kind of sign, (for the Lord sometimes permitted his people to do this,) but because they deliberately provoke God.”

Jesus is telling them to read what is there in Scripture and is obvious that has been written in their Scriptures. The famous English writer C. S. Lewis wrote a famous essay on ‘Fern Seed and Elephants’, in which he talked about people claiming to see the significance of the smallest things while not seeing the elephants in front of them. Jesus is saying that the Pharisees are like that—unwilling to accept the clearest revelation from God, Himself, Jesus Christ.

Do we not see the same type of nation today here in America? One that is in ruin, one that does not accept to hear the truth, and one that does not accept to see the Great Sign given by God. We live today with two types of people, there is no in-between, those that are in Christ and those that are not. Here I must make two points of application. One for the unbeliever and one for the believer. For the unbeliever, do not continue to follow a path of those who seek after the signs of this world, and not that of Christ. Do you not foresee your own ruin coming for rejecting Christ because you seek the pleasures of this evil and adulterous generation like the Pharisees and Sadducees? For the believer, what are you seeking after today? Are you seeking the signs of this world or are you seeking the sings of being something or someone special – maybe a better person than you are now, maybe better finically, maybe a better worker at your job, or a better husband or father? Those are all good things, but if you seek them for the sake of this generation, for your own good and self righteousness you are no different from that what Christ calls an “evil and adulterous generation.” You have lost your focus upon God’s Great Sign, His Son. Not to please those here on earth, but to please an everlasting good and pure generation apart of this world.

For this is why Christ came, to save those in “an evil and adulterous generation.” Unbeliever may you come to know Christ, who He is, what He has done and what He is doing in His Church today. Believer, may you today take refuge in Christ, what Christ has already done and accomplished for you, and rejoice that you are apart of what He is doing today in His Church.

Red Sky at Night, Sailor’s Delight . . .

Two weeks ago I posted an article taking a look at a point within Matthew 16:1-4. Today I’d like to take a look at another point within the text. The passage reads,

“1 And the Pharisees, together with the Sadducees, came, and tempting desired that he would show them a sign from heaven. 2 But he answering said to them, About the commencement of the evening you say, It will be fine weather; for the sky is red. 3 And in the morning, There will be a storm to-day; for the sky is red and lowring. Hypocrites, you can judge aright of the face of the sky; but can you not judge of the signs of the times? 4 A wicked and adulterous nation demands a sign, and no sign shall be given to it but the sign of the prophet Jonah. And he left them, and departed.” Thus is the reading of God’s Word.

Verse 3 says, “Hypocrites, you can judge aright of the face of the sky.” We have all heard the saying “Red sky at night, sailor’s delight. Red sky in morning, sailor’s take warning.” The practical origins for this nursery rhyme are based on weather predictions and how a red sky at night would indicate fair weather on the following day. The rhyme itself came about in England that would refer to a shepherd who would say that a red sky in the morning was suggesting inclement weather to follow. In America here, the words relate to a sailor doing the same. It should be remembered that there were no weather forecasts, for one had to make his own weather predictions by the sings before them. Those with the most knowledge and experience, such as Sailors and Shepherds, whose lives were dependent on the weather and knew the changing weather patterns that were indicated by a “Red Sky at night”. This was true during Jesus’ time as well. Christ reminds them that His power has been made manifested to the naked eye that they can see themselves here on earth. Christ reminds the Pharisees and Sadducees that they on their own accord could not shut their eyes to the clearest of light. Christ reminds them that sometimes a storm unexpectedly arises, and sometimes fair weather springs up when it was not expected, yet the instructions of nature are enough for them to predict from signs whether the day will be fair or cloudy. Christ therefore asks the Pharisees and Sadducees why they do not recognize the kingdom of God, when it is made known by signs that are not less known. This shows that Pharisees and Sadducees were occupied with earthly things and cared very little about anything that related to the heavenly and spiritual life of Christ’s Kingdom, but what is most important in this section of the text is that Christ calls them “hypocrites.” Why does Christ use such strong language as this? Because they pretend to know as that if it were exhibited to them, they are not willing to see the truth right in front of them. The conclusion that we can see here in our text is that these ignorant Pharisees and Sadducees are not at liberty to predict the aspect of the sky whether they shall have fair or stormy weather. It is rather an argument which Christ places on the regular course of nature. That argument is this, that men deserve to perish for their ingratitude, who, while are sufficiently know the matters of this present day life, yet knowingly and willfully quench the heavenly light and truth by their own stupidity.

Does not the same reproof and rebuke of Christ to the Pharisees and Sadducees apply to us? The same reproof applies nearly to the whole world does it not? For mankind continues to direct their skill, imagination, and apply their senses, to their own immediate advantage in this world. Like the Pharisees and Sadducees, sailors and shepherds, we can easily tell the natural signs that are around us in this world like the weather, but how come we have no or little concern about the signs by which God invites us to himself? Is it not because every man gives himself up to willing indifference and smothers the light which is offered to him? There may be some of you here today that have the description of these men in our text called “hypocrites” who while seeking after signs to fulfill their own desires, miss the utmost desirable Sign in front of them, Jesus Christ. Like the Pharisees and Sadducees did not know they were hypocrites, the lost are pleading like them. They are pleading with God to suspend their judgment because they are waiting until they have a sign that is right for them, that then, only then they will follow Jesus Christ. There may be some of those that read this post that even try to avoid God’s Sign, and in your slothfulness you wait and neglect your own salvation of your soul with excuses like the Pharisees and Sadducees for gross and stupid ignorance of that which has already taken place, the greatest Sign of God to mankind, that is His son, Jesus Christ.

For these Pharisees and Sadducees had the signs of the Old Testament; the tree of life, the flood, the signs given to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the signs of Moses and Aaron, from the plagues in Egypt to the parting of the Red Sea, the signs in the wilderness from the cloud that lead Israel, to the signs that provided water from a Rock and manna from Heaven, the signs within the Law from its offerings and atonement for sin, to that of the priesthood that carried out the duties of the Law, the signs of Elijah and Elisha during the kings and kingdoms, to the signs of the prophets, from that of Daniel and the lions to the specific sign in our text Jonah and the fish. They the Pharisees and Sadducees would what it seems have all of the signs they would have ever needed to know God, but they missed the Sign sitting in front of them. For those that do not know Christ, may you not miss Him. For those of you that do know Christ, may I friendly remind you that you have inherited salvation through the greatest Sign God has ever given to His people, Jesus Christ, and you need no more.