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.