The Morality of Sight
“When the crowds were increasing, He began to say, ‘This generation is an evil generation. It seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given…. 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 that Solomon is here…’ “
– Luke 11:29,31,32
Why does Jesus call those who were following Him during His earthly ministry “evil?” I think this passage gives us at least two answers – which are both really part of the same answer.
First, they seek for a sign. That is to say, they look for Jesus to do something supernatural to “backup” the claims He’s making about Himself. They are, in effect, saying, “Prove it!” Jesus calls this evil. Why? Is it evil to seek proof that someone is telling the truth? Normally, the answer is “No.” However, in this case the one they didn’t recognize was God Himself, their Shepherd, their Lord, the One who had carried them and cared for them since before they were born.
Imagine a husband coming home to his wife only to find her skeptical and questioning of him, asking him again and again to prove who he was. This would – at the least – betray the fact that the wife didn’t know the husband very well. This is what was happening in Luke 11. And Jesus calls it evil.
If we can stare the living God in the face….if we can stare into His heart as revealed through His actions and words, if we can be eye to eye and face to face with the Lord of Glory and yet fail to recognize Him for who He is, Jesus says we are evil. Recognition of God as God is not a matter of ingenuity or perceptivity, but morality. It is right to perceive the glory of God in Christ, it is wrong not to.
The second reason Jesus calls the crowds evil (and it is really just another side of the first reason) is because they have failed to recognize His true greatness. He says that the queen of the South will rise up as a witness against them on the judgment day because she recognized wisdom in Solomon and traveled to see him, whereas Jesus’ generation has failed to recognize that something far greater is in their midst.
Once again, the failure to recognize glory and greatness, and the beauty of holiness in Jesus Christ is not just an oversight, it is evil, it is sin. It is a sin because it is the fruit of a heart that is hard, immovable, and opposed to God.
Just as a person’s inability to see the light of the sun even when they are staring directly at it bears witness to the fact that they are blind (i.e., their eyes are not functioning), so too if we stare into the face of Christ as He is communicated to us in scripture and see no glory, it bears witness to the fact that we may well be spiritually dead (i.e., our “hearts” are not functioning).
So the perception of glory is ultimately moral…..We will be justified or damned depending on what we perceived as “greatest,” “most glorious,” and “most beautiful” in this world. If it was not God in Christ – we are evil, blinded by Satan, and moving toward eternal destruction (2 Corinthians 4:4)…..
Ultimately, it is only the external grace of God that can shine into our hearts and give us this recognition of divine greatness and glory in the person of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 4:6)…..
My friends, to see Him to see Him as beautiful as compelling as glorious, as holy and full of divine majesty…..to see Christ (as He is communicated in scripture!) and say, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28) is the most critical thing for us to do in this life. We have nothing if we do not have Him, and we do not have Him if we do not see the glory of the Living God in His face.
May the Lord grant this to each one of us more and more.