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INTRODUCTION: — the heart of the passage — v.28

“Blessed are those who hear the Word of God and obey it”

A rebuke here:

– Serious warning for those who are hearers only

– Tremendous promise for those who both receive and implement God’s Word

Context: 11:14-16 Christ had once again revealed His divine power by casting out a demon from a possessed person;

Revelation always demands a response — you can’t be neutral or unaffected

People responded in different ways:

General reaction = amazement — How could Jesus do this?

1) Some attributed His power and authority to Satan –Christ answers this blasphemous charge

in v.17-26.

Conclusion: the final condition of such people is worse than the first (v.26b)

2) Others were more guarded in their skepticism and demanded that He perform another

indisputable, divine miracle to authenticate His person and His message

Christ responds to this smokescreen for wickedness and unbelief in v.29-36.

No evidence of any real spiritual discernment = the type of understanding that leads to obedience

In between in v. 27-28 He teaches that rubbing shoulders with God is nothing compared to the benefit of obeying God’s revelation.

– there is no magical grace communicated simply by spending time in the presence of Christ or

under the teaching of God’s Word

actually if we are not applying that Word and living it out, our last state is worse than the first

Application: The message of the Bible is really very simple:

“Blessed are those who hear the Word of God and obey it”

If you came looking for something complicated or intricate or brand new, I’m afraid you will be disappointed. But the beauty of God’s truth is that the same simple message is both shallow enough for a newborn Christian — a child — to wade . . . and deep enough for some of us older elephants (who have been Christians a long time) to drown.

The Bible repeats this simple theme many times in many different pictures because we need to hear it:

1) Construction: the conclusion of the Sermon on the Mount — the wise man who builds his

house on the rock instead of the sand is “the man who hears the Words of Christ and puts them

into practice”

2) Agriculture: the good soil in the parable of the Sower is that which allows the Word of God to

take root, to grow, to produce fruit

3) Personal Hygiene: James uses the image of a mirror to represent the Word of God — The faults

exposed by the mirror need to be corrected

We want the blessing that comes from obedience — How do we get it?





The wicked generation to which Jesus preached made the mistake of assuming that they would naturally embrace the truth if only the amount and quality of the revelation were sufficient — Please, give me another miraculous sign to make the truth plain

Christ points out that the problem is not with God’s Revelation

A. Despite the Attacks of the Ungodly, God’s Revelation Cannot be Faulted (:29-30)

“And as the crowds were increasing, He began to say, ‘This generation is a wicked generation; it seeks for a sign, and yet no sign shall be given to it but the sign of Jonah. For just as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so shall the Son of Man be to this generation.’”

1. The problem is one of spiritual wickedness and ungodliness

This is exactly the point at which humanistic solutions to the problems of this world prove to be so futile.

If the problem is not with God’s Revelation, why do people keep criticizing it? You hear the complaints all the time:

– the Bible is impossible to understand

– everyone has his own interpretation, so there is no valid interpret.

– it’s full of myths and fairy tales — like the story of Jonah and the big fish

– it’s full of historical and scientific errors

What we need to understand is that:

2. The Attacks of the Ungodly in Finding Fault with God’s Revelation are Mere Smokescreens

despite the clear and glorious revelations of Christ in His Messianic power, the people keep demanding more signs

“sign” = something that accompanies the Word of God or the spokesman of God to prove its validity and reliability

God granted many gracious signs throughout history:

in the OT most signs are grouped around 3 main time periods:

a) Exodus — deliverance from Egypt and journey to promised land;

b) Elijah and Elisha and their conflict with pagan religion

c) time of Daniel during the exile when the supremacy of Yahweh and the faithfulness of

Daniel and His companions were vindicated

(God cries out against the hardness of heart of the Jews who refused to believe in the face of such dramatic testimony: Num.14:11,22; Ps. 78; 95)

time of Christ and the apostles next great period of signs

Jesus unmasks the hypocritical demands of his day as mere smokescreens for refusing to repent — v.17 “He knew their thoughts”

Knowing they lacked spiritual discernment because of their hard hearts, He basically tosses

their request back in their face:

You want a sign? I’ll give you a sign all right, but not one that you will like.

B. God’s Supreme Revelation in the Resurrected Christ is the Watershed for Blessing or Condemnation — a sign like that of Jonah

Jonah was a sign to the Ninevites because he appeared there as one sent by God after having been miraculously saved after spending 3 days and 3 nights in the belly of the great fish; So Jesus by His resurrection and His coming again in Judgment will prove conclusively that He has been sent by God as His representative–the Christ, the promised Redeemer.

Those who judge the Word of God will end up being judged by it — John 12:47-50

C. 2 Examples that illustrate the point Jesus is trying to make:

Lesser revelation can bring genuine spiritual discernment where the heart condition is right while greater revelation brings greater condemnation where the heart condition is wrong

Study the contrasts in each example:

a) the contrast in the revelation

b) the contrast in the heart condition and response

1. The Example of the Faith of the Queen of Sheba (:31)

“The Queen of the South shall rise up with the men of this generation at the judgment and condemn them, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and behold, something greater than Solomon is here.”

a) Solomon — a wise and prosperous king — combining all of the functions of our 3 branches of govt.: executive, legislative, judicial; his fame had spread abroad — what a privilege to learn at his feet

one greater than Solomon is here — a far greater and wiser king

b) What faith on the part of the Queen of Sheba — making a long and difficult journey from the southern tip of Arabia = the ends of the earth at that time; spared no effort or expense to check out truth for herself

1 Kings 10:1 “When the queen of Sheba heard about the fame of Solomon and his relation to

the name of the Lord, she came to test him with hard questions.”

but with a spirit of wanting to embrace the truth rather than seeking to discredit it;

she was able to see the connection between the prosperity of Solomon’s kingdom (including his moral standards for justice and righteousness) and the blessing of the Lord

the Jews saw far more in the miracles and teaching of Christ but remained skeptical — Show me something else

Lenski: The reference to “wisdom” is especially pertinent to the scribes whose very profession it was to seek and to dispense the true wisdom of God form his Word.

2. The Example of the Repentance of the Ninevites (:32)

“The men of Nineveh shall stand up with this generation at the judgment and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and behold, something greater than Jonah is here.”

a) Jonah — a famous prophet and powerful preacher – but certainly not a perfect spokesman or

model of God’s truth; tainted with nationalistic pride and lacking compassion; unpopular

message: judgment coming in 40 days

now one greater than Jonah is here — the greatest Prophet of all; one with a message of God’s

judgment sure to fall after 40 years; one with compassion and love to reach out to all the world;

one who perfectly models the truth

b) Dramatic, unconditional, total repentance

most unlikely people to respond to God’s message (Jonah thought so too)

from the king on down “blessed are the poor in spirit” —

fasting, clothing themselves in sackcloth, calling urgently on God to show mercy (“God be

merciful to me a sinner” — not the prayer of the proud Pharisee “Thank God I am not like that

wretched sinner over there”); gave up their sinful ways

Application: When was the last time you repented? of what specific sin?

How effective was that repentance?

Why do we struggle with giving up our sinful habits?

We cannot expect to benefit from more revelation when we are unwilling to apply what we

already know

Our lack of faith and our failure to turn away from sin will keep us from understanding and obeying God’s truth

The fault is not with God: we need to constantly be exercising repentance and faith



“No one, after lighting a lamp, puts it away in a cellar, nor under a peck-measure,

but on the lampstand, in order that those who enter may see the light.”

the purpose of a lamp is to give light to those who are seeking to use it

conscious effort and resources required to light this oil lamp;

obviously if you did not want people to benefit from the illumination you would conserve the effort

and the resources

lampstand = place of prominence in order to diffuse the light and maximize its usefulness

the light will only benefit those who choose to come to it; others choose to remain out in the darkness; you might say: “But none can come apart from the ministry of the Holy Spirit” and you would be right; Jesus promised back in v.13 “God will give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him”

Jesus’ intention has not been to conceal the light of his self-revelation. On the contrary, He causes the light to be spread thru His words and works. The problem is not with the lamp, but with the wickedness of the hearts of those who are exposed to the light.

Two Applications:

1) Rebuke to the unbelievers who refuse to come to the light even though it is so readily available

2) Reminder to believers that our purpose is not to conceal God’s revelation, but to openly display

it for others to benefit; we are to shine as lights in the world

Ryle: a man’s religion is suspect when he is content to go to heaven alone; the Christian who is satisfied to burn his candle in hiding has real problems


A. Check the Condition of Your Heart Because That Determines How Much of God’s Light Can Be Received to Provide Light Within (:34)

“The lamp of your body is your eye; when your eye is clear, your whole body also is full of light; but when it is bad, your body also is full of darkness.”

cause and effect relationship

1. Statement of the Heart’s Function

“the lamp of your body is your eye”

the eye is the organ by means of which the light is taken in and distributed for the service of the

entire body

therefore, the function of the eye to the body parallels the function of the lamp to those in the


Here the eye must be a reference to one’s heart — the core of one’s being where you interact

with God’s revelation

We cannot afford to ignore our heart condition or take it for granted; we should be willing to

go to any length to guard the condition of our heart

2. Two Possible Conditions of the Heart — Examine the cause to see what effect to expect

a. single — without fold, without duplicity, without ulterior motives or divided loyalties –

characterized by faith and repentance — focused on the reality of Christ

pure devotion to Christ — David gave God his silver and gold for the building of the temple in singleness of heart (1 Chr.29:17)

one thing I desire; one thing I do; one thing I live for (Ps. 27:4; Lk. 10:42; Philip. 3:13)

Result is complete uninhibited illumination and spiritual discernment

b. evil, bad — not characterized by faith and repentance

full of hypocrisy and ulterior motives

Result is complete darkness; no illumination or spiritual discernment

Note: the amount and quality of the revelation has not changed; but your capacity to receive

and understand that revelation so that it benefits you is zero

Morris: The eye is the organ that receives light and Jesus speaks of it as the lamp of your body. When the eye is reacting to light in the normal manner, the whole body gets the benefit. A man can perform almost any bodily function when he has good illumination. But if his eyes are impaired so that he cannot make use of the light, almost every function is impaired.

B. Check How Much Light You Have Within Because That is An Indication of the Condition of Your Heart Which Determines How Much Light You Can Receive from the Outside (:35-36)

“Then watch out that the light in you may not be darkness. If therefore your whole body is full of light, with no dark part in it, it shall be wholly illumined, as when the lamp illumines you with its rays.”

Keep Checking Your Heart’s Condition by Checking Your Level of Spiritual Discernment (:35-36)

you can also examine the effect to determine which heart condition caused it

1. Darkness (:35)

(the danger is that if your inner attitude is wrong, your heart will become increasingly hardened

against the light of God’s revelation)

Or more likely, the danger is that you are self-deceived and while you have been thinking all along (like the Pharisees) that you have the light within you, upon closer examination based on the teachings of Christ and based on inward spirituality rather than external legalism, you discover that you are really spiritually dead

2. Full Discernment (:36)

difficult verse — “If therefore your whole body is full of light, with no dark part in it, then your

heart condition must be right and you will be able to receive more light from the lamp of God’s

revelation so that you will continue to be full of light”

CONCLUSION: Relationship between Faith and Repentance

really flip sides of the same coin; wherever you have one, you must have the other;

I like the picture here — speaks of only 1 eye — combining faith and repentance — not 2 separate


Col.2:6 “As you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him”

“Blessed are those who hear the Word of God and obey it”