The Opportunity Of A Life Time

Luke 11:29-36, NLT

29 As the crowd pressed in on Jesus, he said, “This evil generation keeps asking me to show them a miraculous sign. But the only sign I will give them is the sign of Jonah.”
30 What happened to him was a sign to the people of Nineveh that God had sent him. What happens to the Son of Man will be a sign to these people that he was sent by God.
31 “The queen of Sheba will stand up against this generation on judgment day and condemn it, for she came from a distant land to hear the wisdom of Solomon. Now someone greater than Solomon is here—but you refuse to listen.
32 The people of Nineveh will also stand up against this generation on judgment day and condemn it, for they repented of their sins at the preaching of Jonah. Now someone greater than Jonah is here—but you refuse to repent.
33“No one lights a lamp and then hides it or puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where its light can be seen by all who enter the house.
34 “Your eye is a lamp that provides light for your body. When your eye is good, your whole body is filled with light. But when it is bad, your body is filled with darkness.
35 Make sure that the light you think you have is not actually darkness.
36 If you are filled with light, with no dark corners, then your whole life will be radiant, as though a floodlight were filling you with light.”

INTRODUCTION

An Opportunity of a lifetime. Opportunities, at least some, are rare and come only once in a life time. Halley’s Comet is one such opportunity. It appears in the earth’s atmosphere once every 75 years. He came through in 1986 and will not be back until 2061. Did you happen to see it in 1986? I was 37 years old but I missed it. If my memory is correct, you had to get up in the wee hours of the morning, like 2:30 am and we only had a couple of nights to see it. Unfortunately for me, I choose to stay in bed and I missed the comet. Obviously, I will not be around in 2061, that would make me 112.
I do hate I missed the comet but it is not the most painful regret I have: the point is, some opportunities come only once in life time. Speaking of once and a life time opportunities, no one was more privileged than the Jews some 2,000 years ago. The Son of God paid them a brief visit. He came to their beloved Temple. He visited their holy city. He taught God’s word while in their presence. He healed the sick, gave sight to the blind, and even raised some who were dead but they ignored Him as long as they could and then they rejected Him and had Him crucified.
Our scripture passage today begins like this… As the crowd pressed in on Jesus, he said, “This evil generation keeps asking me to show them a miraculous sign. But the only sign I will give them is the sign of Jonah.” Jesus was  becoming more and more popular and the crowds were pressing in upon Him but Jesus was not impressed because He knew what they were seeking. They wanted visible proof that He was the Son of God. Jesus refused to accommodate them and He will not accommodate you either. You will either take Him at His word and trust Him by faith or you will continue to walk in darkness. He is not going to eliminate faith for you or anyone else. You cannot please Him a part from faith. Faith is His modus operandi; it is the way He does things.
Jesus said, “On the day of Judgement, the men of Nineveh are going to rise up and accuse you folks, they repented as the preaching of Jonah and you haven’t repented with Me doing the preaching. The queen of Sheba came here to hear Solomon and he took her breath away, and you don’t pay any attention to anything I say.” Jesus has a great point. The men of Nineveh are going to be furious, “We repented when a bigoted a-hole preached to us and you guys had Jesus.” The Queen of Sheba will have a similar outrage…I was so impressed with Solomon that I was speechless and you guys had the opportunity to hear Jesus the Son of God and you paid no attention.”

How did the Jews blow such an opportunity?

I. THERE HEARTS WERE HARD

Hebrews three has commentary on this point: This is why the Holy Spirit says, “Today when you hear His voice, don’t harden your hearts as Israel did when they rebelled, when they tested me in the wilderness.
Be careful then, dear brothers and sisters. Make sure that your own hearts are not evil and unbelieving, turning you away from the living God.  You must warn each other every day, while it is still “today,” so that none of you will be deceived by sin and hardened against God… Remember what it says: “Today when you hear His voice, don’t harden your hearts as Israel did when they rebelled.”
Sin had hardened the Jewish Religious Establishment’s heart; they were suffering from spiritual-sclerosis the hardening of the heart.
Jonah may have been an outstanding preacher; we really don’t know anything about his oratorical skills; what we do know is that he had very little character. He didn’t like people and especially Assyrians {Gentiles}. He preached to them but he did not want them to repent. He only preached to them because he felt compelled. He actually got angry when they repented and God spared them. Jonah and Jesus, there is no comparison. Yet the Assyrians Gentiles could hear God in Jonah’s voice where as the Jews accused Jesus of having a demon. So it is not the quality of the preacher, it is the condition of the heart.

II. THEIR MINDS WERE CLOSED

In Luke 18, a few pages over, Jesus tells a story about two men going to the Temple to pray, one of the men is a Pharisee who is filled with pride and contempt. Jesus told the story to call the Pharisees out for their pride, self-righteousness and contempt for others. If you go to the end of the story, this is what Jesus says…“So pay attention to how you hear. To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given. But for those who are not listening, even what they think they understand will be taken away from them.”

The Queen of Sheba was a Gentile and a female, yet she traveled hundreds of miles to hear Solomon teach and she was impressed. The Jews refused to listen to Jesus and they were seldom impressed. How is it that a Gentile woman can be impressed with the teachings o Solomon when the Jews were not impressed at all with the teachings of Jesus. Surely, you do not compare the teachings of Solomon with those of Jesus.

I will tell you the difference. The Queen of Sheba was a seeker. She was searching for the truth and she had an open mind. The Jews were too narrow, too bigoted, too filled with pride and contempt to listen. They had contempt for Jesus.

III. THEIR EYES WERE BLIND

Jesus said, “No one lights a lamp and then hides it or puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where its light can be seen by all who enter the house.  “Your eye is a lamp that provides light for your body. When your eye is good, your whole body is filled with light. But when it is bad, your body is filled with darkness.”
The Jews were blind. The Son of God was standing in their presence and they couldn’t see him. Increasing the light will not help a blind person. They may feel some of the warmth but increasing the voltage or intensity of the light will not help them. Jesus was infinitely brighter than Jonah or Solomon but it made no difference because the Jews were filled with darkness. What others could see as clear as day, they could not see.
God does not will that you be spiritually blind: Paul said in I Timothy 2:4, “God desires for everyone to be saved and know the truth.” God does not want you in the dark and He is certainly not keeping you in the darkrk.
35 Make sure that the light you think you have is not actually darkness.
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