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This Evil Generation

April 21 2024

Book: Luke

Scripture: Luke 11:29-36

Thank you for reading this sermon from Christ Fellowship. I hope and pray that this sermon will be a blessing of grace and truth to you. With that said, let me encourage you not to use this sermon as a replacement for your local church. Christ Jesus did not establish his Church simply for us to consume content. Instead, He calls us to be part of a real, covenant family. 


We are in Luke chapter 11, and I’m really excited about this sermon, because I don’t think I’ve ever heard one on this text. It’s probably not very familiar and that’s because it takes a little work for us to understand it. We’re going to do that work this morning. Let’s begin in verse 29.

29 When the crowds were increasing, he began to say, “This generation is an evil generation. 

What a way to start a sermon! Jesus looks at the crowd and says, “Y’all are evil.” Why? Because:

It seeks for a sign,

Pause here. Jesus says the people are evil because they seek for a sign. That may seem harsh to us because it seems reasonable for people to want a sign. If someone claimed to be a Messiah from God, we would want to see proof as well.

But this is not the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. At this point in the Gospel of Luke, Jesus has healed countless people, cast out countless demons, filled a net with fish, raised a couple of people from the dead, calmed a storm, fed thousands with a miracle feast, and STILL the crowds keep asking for more proof.

By now, we should begin to realize this is a significant character flaw. No sign will be enough. These people aren’t looking for reasons to believe. They are looking for reasons NOT to believe.

I remember what that’s like. Before God changed my heart, I was actively rebellious. I was angry with God. I read book after book trying to comfort myself in the belief that God might not even exist. I looked for reasons NOT to believe.

Jesus simply calls this what it is. Evil. They were already given all the evidence they needed and still they rejected him. This rejection will build as we continue studying Luke and it will end in the murder of Jesus. Even with a mountain of evidence that Jesus was their Messiah, they will crucify Him. And so would we.

This generation seeks for a sign, Jesus says,

but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah.

Out of nowhere, Jesus brings up the story of Jonah.

30 For as Jonah became a sign to the people of Nineveh, so will the Son of Man be to this generation. 

Jonah was a prophet in the Old Testament and not even a very good one. God sent Jonah on a missionary journey to an evil city, but Jonah didn’t want to go. In fact, He tried to go the other way. He didn’t want to preach to the enemies of Israel, but God forced Him to go.

He arrived in Nineveh angry and preached a simple, half-hearted message of repentance. To his surprise and frustration, the entire city confessed their sins and turned to God!

The connection between Jonah and Jesus is magnified in Matthew’s Gospel. Jonah spent three days in the belly of a great fish. Jesus spent three days in the grave. That is the sign Jesus refers to.

But let’s continue.

31 The queen of the South will rise up at 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 behold, something greater than Solomon is here. 

You can find this story in 1 Kings 10. This is the Queen of Sheba, most likely an Ethiopian queen meaning she travelled 1300 miles on a camel seeking wisdom from Solomon.

What we have here is Jesus telling a crowd of locals that ancient Gentiles have more respect for the Word of God than they do. That’s the point of his sermon.

32 The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here.

This is the message. God sent a B-team minor prophet to an enemy nation. He didn’t even want to go. He preached a terrible sermon. And yet, God opened the hearts of the entire city!

Now God has sent the Greatest Prophet – His own perfect Son. He came willingly to His enemies, with love in His heart. He healed the sick. He fed the hungry. He raised the dead. Sign after sign. And still, the people rejected Him!

A Gentile queen travelled a thousand miles to seek wisdom from a human king. But God has sent the Greatest King – the King of all creation. We didn’t go to Him. He came to us bringing perfect wisdom from God!

And now, Jesus tells the crowds (who knew these stories better than we do) that they are guilty of rejecting prophecy and obvious wisdom from God – declared to them with power and every sign imaginable – and still they rejected it.

Now, look at how our text ends.

33 “No one after lighting a lamp puts it in a cellar or under a basket, but on a stand, so that those who enter may see the light. 

34 Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light, but when it is bad, your body is full of darkness. 

35 Therefore be careful lest the light in you be darkness. 

36 If then your whole body is full of light, having no part dark, it will be wholly bright, as when a lamp with its rays gives you light.”

Before the eclipse, what’s the one thing you heard repeatedly. Do not what? Do not look directly at the sun without protection. The sun is brighter than you realize, even if 99% of it is covered up by the moon.

And so, we all had these special glasses with lens so dark that the only thing you can possibly see through them is the sun! No other light will pass through these lenses. And we all trusted these cheap paper and plastic glasses to protect our eyes.

But imagine trying to get around with these glasses on every day. You might as well be blind. You can’t see anything through them except the sun.

This is the basic point of the illustration Jesus uses here. The problem is not the absence of light. The problem is with your eyes. They are full of darkness and no amount of light can pierce that darkness.

Now, how does this connect with the previous verses about Jonah and Solomon? Put it all together, what is Jesus teaching?

He’s saying that in the past God has used a tiny flashlight to reveal His Word to people who were really far away from Him. But it didn’t take much… God can use a bad sermon from a bad prophet… God can draw someone to Himself from a thousand miles away with a little fragment of wisdom.

Compared to the little flashlight of Jonah or Solomon, Jesus is like an industrial spotlight shining directly in your face. The problem is not with the source of light. The problem is with our eyes. The brightest light in the world could be 10 inches from your face and you’ll never see it if you’re blind.

Jesus is telling the people – you don’t need any more signs. You need eyes to see what God has already done.

I want to give us two applications – two takeaways… one for skeptics and one for believers.

First, if you are a skeptic – you’re not sure what to think about Jesus. Very likely, you’ve told yourself that you just need more proof. I just need God to make it obvious. I just need someone to say something or show me something that I can’t deny… that I can’t refute… then I’ll believe.

And Jesus says to you, that’s not really your problem. You don’t need more evidence. You have the Bible. You have the historical evidence. You have the testimony of billions of Christians scattered around every continent on the planet. All creation is crying out in witness to its creator with the light of a trillion stars.

You don’t need more evidence. You need the scales to fall off your eyes. You need a new heart. You need God to take your rebellious, evil heart and exchange it for a new one. And He’s the only One who can do that. And if you ask Him to do it, He will.

Instead of asking God for more evidence, maybe ask Him for the eyes to see what He’s already done for you. This is an invitation, but it’s also a warning. It’s a call to repent and believe.

Second, for believers, this is a reminder to pray, which is how chapter 11 started. Jesus taught us to pray for His kingdom to come. The most important way that God’s kingdom comes is by conversions.

We need to pray for the lost. We need to pray for specific people that God would open their eyes to see His glorious light. We need to pray for the scales to fall off.

But please understand, I don’t at all mean that in an arrogant way. I sometimes wonder how it must sound to people outside the Church – we’re praying for your poor lost souls…

No, please understand! It’s a miracle I’m a Christian. If you’re a Christian, it’s a miracle. It’s a gift of God. Someone prayed for me when I was lost. I would still be lost if not for the grace of God! It is always a miracle!

Every true Christian knows this was our story too. I was a rebellious enemy of God – angry with Him, blaming Him for my problems instead of looking at myself.

Who will deliver me from this curse of darkness? Thanks be to the Lord Jesus Christ, who said these words: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”