Something greater…is here. - Vs 6, 41, 42
Three times in this chapter, Jesus makes the statement, "something greater…is here." Three times He makes a comparison between Himself and a person or place from Israel's past. He compares Himself to the Temple, to Jonah, and then to Solomon – all in the middle of an ongoing confrontation with the Pharisees. They accuse His disciples of violating the Sabbath because they are picking heads of grain and eating them. In their legalistic minds, this constituted "work." Jesus responds to their accusations by reminding them that the priests themselves work on the Sabbath and are innocent. And because He, Jesus, is greater than the Sabbath, He and His disciples are likewise innocent. He is greater than the Sabbath because He is Lord of the Sabbath.
The next confrontation is over Jesus' healing of a demon-possessed man. The crowds are amazed and begin to wrestle with the idea that Jesus just may be the Son of David, the Messiah. This sets the Pharisees off and they accuse Jesus of healing by the power of Satan.This accusation garners a fairly intense response from Jesus against the Pharisees. He reveals that their denial of His healing power as being from God was to deny the Holy Spirit and to deny that the power and reign of God was present in the world. They were committing the unforgivable sin – attributing the Spirit's word to Satan.
Even after this confrontation, the Pharisees have the gall to come to Jesus and ask Him for a sign. But Jesus refuses, telling them that the only sign they will receive is "the sign of Jonah the prophet" (Vs 39). Jesus is referring to His own death, burial, and resurrection. Just as Jonah was in the belly of the great fish for three days and nights, so Jesus would be three days and nights in the earth after His crucifixion. But Jesus slams the Pharisees, reminding them that while the people of Ninevah responded to the preaching of Jonah and repented, they are their contemporaries refused to listen to the preaching of Jesus – even though He is greater than Jonah. Jesus' preaching is greater than Jonah's. His message is greater than Jonah's. He is preaching about the kingdom of God and the means to enter it – through Him. Jonah was preaching a temporary salvation from judgment. Jesus is preaching a permanent salvation from eternal judgment to come. It is interesting that Jesus chose to compare Himself to Jonah, one of the prophets to the Gentiles. It would not be long before Jesus would expand His message of salvation to the Gentiles as well.
Finally, Jesus compares Himself to Solomon, the great king and the son of David. He says the the queen of Sheba, who came to visit Solomon and to witness his wisdom, would stand up and condemn this generation, because they have the true wisdom of God standing right in front of them, but refuse to believe. Jesus is greater than Solomon because He is wiser than Solomon. His kingdom is greater than Solomon.
Jesus has compared Himself to three of their icons: The Temple, Jonah the prophet, and Solomon. This had to have rubbed the Pharisees wrong. Jesus was claiming superiority to the very house of God and two of patriarchs of their faith. He was claiming to have power over the Temple itself – the very place where God Himself dwelt. He was claiming to be preaching a greater message than that of Jonah. He was claiming to possess a greater wisdom than Solomon. But they refused to recognize His power, His message, and His wisdom. The refused to acknowledge His greatness. But can we be guilty of the same thing today? Can we refuse to acknowledge God's greatness? Are our plans greater than Him? Are our rules greater than Him? Do we refuse to acknowledge His infinite wisdom, His incomparable message, His limitless power? If we are not careful, we can find ourselves questioning the wisdom of Jesus, doubting the power of Jesus, and rejecting the message of Jesus. He is calling us to daily repentance and dependence on Him. But we can become arrogant, refusing to see ourselves as sinners in need of a Savior every day of our lives. We can refuse to repent, content with our "ticket to heaven." We can think of ourselves as wiser than He is by following our own plan, instead of His. We can refuse to admit that He has the power and authority to tell us what to do with our lives, by living according to our own set of rules and standards.
He is greater than…everything we can think of. And He wants us to acknowledge that fact.
Father, Your Son is greater. He is greater than anything that I might want to compare Him with. But I do not always live my life as if I believe that fact. I doubt Him. I reject Him. I refuse to obey Him. May I continue to grow in my understanding of His infinite greatness. I want to increase in my understanding on His power, His wisdom, and the life-changing message that He brings. He is greater! Amen