Matthew 12:38-42, The Demand for a Sign

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“Those who acknowledge Jesus as the Messiah will inherit the kingdom of God” (Harrington 10). Those who acknowledge Jesus as the fulfillment of the Old Testament will be saved and be granted eternal life in Heaven. Those who reject him will be condemned. In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus teaches of the Kingdom of Heaven by placing “Jesus of Nazareth within the traditions of God’s chosen people and showing how this same Jesus burst the bonds of those traditions and brought them to fulfillment” (Harrington 7). One passage in specific that emphasizes this aspect of Matthew’s Gospel is Mt 12:38-42, The Demand for a Sign. In this passage, Matthew uses Jesus as a preacher to show him as the fulfillment of the Old Testament. He is a prophet greater than Jonah, and a King greater than Solomon. Jesus is the Messiah sent by God to preach about the Kingdom of Heaven. Within this essay, I will first summarize the specific passage, explain where The Demand for a Sign is placed within the Gospel of Matthew as a whole, and compare it to its comparable passage in the Gospel of Mark. Then I will examine the different points that Matthew is making within this passage.
In Mt 12:38-42, Jesus is being rejected by people of his generation. The Scribes and Pharisees ask to see a sign proving that Jesus really is the Messiah, but Jesus tells them, “no sign will be given it except the sign of Jonah the prophet” (The Catholic Study Bible, Mt 12:39). Then Jesus begins to speak of Jonah from the Old Testament. He mentions that the Son of Man will spend three days and three nights in the heart of the Earth, just as Jonah spent three days and three nights in the belly of a whale. He then continues to speak of the Final Judgment. The men of Nineveh will condemn t...

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...about a new Israel. “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you” (Mt 7:7) Through the new Israel, the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. “For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened” (Mt 7:8). Because of the New Israel, the Church of Matthew must stand strong against Judaism.

Works Cited

The Catholic Study Bible. Ed. Donald Senior and John J. Collins. New York: Oxford University Press, 2006. Print.
Harrington, Daniel J. The Gospel according to Mark. Collegeville, Minnesota: The Liturgical Press. 1983. Print.
Nickle, Keith F. The Synoptic Gospels, An Introduction. Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press. 2001. Print.
Wright, Nicholas T. Matthew for Everyone. London, England: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 2002. Print.

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