Reflections on the New Testament: The Gospel of Luke
“And this will be the sign to you: you will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger,” Luke 2:12, NKJV.
“Then Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary His mother, ‘Behold, this Child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which will be spoken against,” Luke 2:34, NKJV.
“Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven,” Luke 10:20, NKJV.
“For as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so also the Son of Man will be to this generation,” Luke 11:30, NKJV.
The performance of signs and wonders was a help to the Lord’s ministry, but it was not the His ministry itself. More vital was His teaching, and the integral purpose—His death, burial, and resurrection. We see the irrelevance of “signs” expressed, even vehemently, throughout scripture, and are led time and time again to the only necessary sign: Jesus Christ Himself. In Luke 2:12, the “sign” the angels speak of is not the spectacle of angels singing in the heavens, nor the great, magnificent star in the east, but the Babe Himself, “wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” In Luke 2:34, Simeon says “this Child is destined…for a sign which will be spoken against.” By no means is this sign one of those healing miracles He performed in the presence of the Jews, but, rather, the fulfillment of the salvation plan itself.
The Lord Himself, in Luke 10:20, seeks to divert His disciples’ attention from the signs He has enabled them to perform and admonishes them to “rejoice because your names are written in heaven.” This is the chief miracle, and it is what distinguishes Christ as not a prophet or a great teacher, but as the Holy One of God. We, in the weakness of the flesh, are easily distracted by wonders of the physical realm and are quick to blur over the magnificence of the gospel and the miracle of our salvation. “O faithless and perverse generation!” When shall we understand that the glory of God does not consist merely in external show, but in the inner workings of a renewed spirit, in the intangible but distinctly real transformation of a soul saved by God! Seek not after a sign, but after the Lord. Indeed, the Son of Man is a sign unto us—the sign of salvation.
“For as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so also the Son of Man will be to this generation. The queen of the South will rise up in the judgment with the men of this generation and condemn them, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and indeed a greater than Solomon is here. The men of Nineveh will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and indeed a greater than Jonah is here,” Luke11:30-32, NKJV.