Red Letter Year: 4/12

Matthew 12:38-50

38 One day some teachers of religious law and Pharisees came to Jesus and said, “Teacher, we want you to show us a miraculous sign to prove your authority.”

39 But Jesus replied, “Only an evil, adulterous generation would demand a miraculous sign; but the only sign I will give them is the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40 For as Jonah was in the belly of the great fish for three days and three nights, so will the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights.

41 The people of Nineveh will stand up against this generation on judgment day and condemn it, for they repented of their sins at the preaching of Jonah. Now someone greater than Jonah is here—but you refuse to repent. 42 The queen of Sheba will also stand up against this generation on judgment day and condemn it, for she came from a distant land to hear the wisdom of Solomon. Now someone greater than Solomon is here—but you refuse to listen.

43 When an evil spirit leaves a person, it goes into the desert, seeking rest but finding none. 44 Then it says, ‘I will return to the person I came from.’ So it returns and finds its former home empty, swept, and in order. 45 Then the spirit finds seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they all enter the person and live there. And so that person is worse off than before. That will be the experience of this evil generation.”

46 As Jesus was speaking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, asking to speak to him. 47 Someone told Jesus, “Your mother and your brothers are outside, and they want to speak to you.”

48 Jesus asked, “Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?” 49 Then he pointed to his disciples and said, “Look, these are my mother and brothers. 50 Anyone who does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother!”


Let’s focus on this teaching about the person delivered from demonic influence. We might be inclined to think that such an event would mark a great cure in such a person’s life (and really, we are all in need of such deliverance to some degree), but Jesus claims it is only the beginning of the healing process, more precisely it is the opportunity for life transformation. A brief space and time are created where the absence of spiritual evil may be replaced with spiritual good. The demonic tenet has been evicted so that the Holy Spirit home owner may move in. But the Holy Spirit moving in is not automatic or guaranteed. A person may still stand outside, aloof, at arm’s length from being Jesus’ disciple. In that case, the former tenet will come back around and find his former dwelling vacant. As Jesus’ mother and brothers show in this passage knowing Jesus really well is no guarantee of discipleship, no guarantee that the Spirit of Jesus has taken up residence in one’s life. Don’t be satisfied with being on the outside, press in and sit at Jesus’ feet and let him fill your life with his presence. What does it mean in practical terms to sit at Jesus’ feet? First and foremost it means to give regular time to his teachings – reading the Gospels is a primary way become and remain his disciple. Which is what this Red Letter Year is all about.

New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.