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§ 165. The Demand of a Sign from Heaven answered only by the Sign of the Prophet Jonah. (Luke, xi., 16, 29-36.)

We stated, on p. 240, that the less violent of Christ’s opponents demanded of him “a sign from heaven.” In answering these, he showed that their ungodly disposition of heart was at once the ground of their unbelief and the secret motive of their demand.

[An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the Prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was a sign to the Ninevites, so, also, shall the Son of Man be to this generation.] “In vain did they ask a new sign; such a one as they asked they should not obtain. No other sign should they have but that of the Prophet Jonah,438438   See above, p. 136. i. e., the whole manifestation of Christ,439439   In Matt., xii., 40, the reference is made to bear upon the resurrection of Christ, which is quite foreign to the original sense and connexion of the passage. It was Christ’s whole manifestation, then developing itself before the eyes of them that heard him, that was in question; the resurrection was witnessed only by persons who were already believers, for whom it was a sign to reanimate their faith. For those who persisted in unbelief, notwithstanding the sign of his whole manifestation, the resurrection was a sign of reproof, a testimony that the work of God had triumphed over all their machinations. A special Application of the type in this way would have drawn the attention of the hearers away from the main point of comparison. For these reasons, we think the verse in question is a commentary by a later hand. by 246which the Jews were to be called to repent and escape the threatened judgment.” He was to be a sign, shining for all mankind; and this candle, once lighted, was not to be put in a secret place, neither under a bushel, but on a candlestick, that all who should enter the house might see the light (v. 33). So was He to be a light unto all men. But in order to receive the light, the eye must be sound. And what the eye is to the body, the inner light of Divine consciousness, originally implanted in our nature, is to the soul. Where this light has become darkness; where the Divinity in man, the consciousness of God, has been subjugated and stifled by the world, all that is within is full of darkness, and no light from without can illumine it. The organ where with to receive Divine revelations is wanting (v. 34-36).

Thus it was, because of the inner darkness of their souls, that these men could not understand “the sign” given by Christ’s whole manifestation; and for this reason it was that, in spite of all the signs that lay before their eyes, they ever asked for more.

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