As the crowd swelled, he took a fresh tack: “The mood of this age is all wrong. Everybody’s looking for proof, but you’re looking for the wrong kind. All you’re looking for is something to titillate your curiosity, satisfy your lust for miracles. But the only proof you’re going to get is the Jonah-proof given to the Ninevites, which looks like no proof at all. What Jonah was to Nineveh, the Son of Man is to this age.
“On Judgment Day the Ninevites will stand up and give evidence that will condemn this generation, because when Jonah preached to them they changed their lives. A far greater preacher than Jonah is here, and you squabble about ‘proofs.’ On Judgment Day the Queen of Sheba will come forward and bring evidence that condemns this generation, because she traveled from a far corner of the earth to listen to wise Solomon. Wisdom far greater than Solomon’s is right in front of you, and you quibble over ‘evidence.’
“No one lights a lamp, then hides it in a drawer. It’s put on a lamp stand so those entering the room have light to see where they’re going. Your eye is a lamp, lighting up your whole body. If you live wide-eyed in wonder and belief, your body fills up with light. If you live squinty-eyed in greed and distrust, your body is a dank cellar. Keep your eyes open, your lamp burning, so you don’t get musty and murky. Keep your life as well-lighted as your best-lighted room.” (Luke 11:29–36 MSG)
Jesus downplayed the power of miracles to prove anything. Jesus had just cast a demon from a man who was unable to speak, but rather than believing, the Pharisees explained the miracle away as the work of the devil. Then they demanded Jesus give them another miracle to prove that they were wrong.
Instead of offering them another miracle, Jesus offered them judgment. He unfavorably compared them with people of the past: those who had repented of their wickedness and those who had traveled long distances to hear wisdom. Those people had seen no miracles at all: they had merely heard the words of a prophet and a king.
God’s actions in the world can always be explained away. People can always rationalize whatever they see, they can always find an alternative explanation. God does not demand compliance, he merely requests it.
When we share the words of God, when we tell people how God has worked in our lives, that is really enough. We don’t need grand eloquence or wonders to convince them. People will believe us if they choose to obey God’s request.