When certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees asked for a sign from Jesus, He answered, “An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign” (Mt. 12:38-39). Now, there is nothing wrong with asking for proof from a man that says he is speaking from God. Jesus also said, “If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not. But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him” (John 10:37-38). Jesus did not expect people to believe without evidence. What Christ is saying is: if I do not do the miraculous works that correspond with my heavenly Father then do not believe me; however, if I do the miraculous signs, then believe me.
The reason in Matthew 12:38 that Jesus said this was an evil generation is because they continued looking for a sign that He had already given them and they did not believe. In Matthew 12:22, Jesus cast out a demon and the man who had formerly been possessed, causing muteness and blindness, was healed so that he spoke and saw. In reaction to this undeniable miracle, the Pharisees attributed the power to come from “Beelzebub, the prince of the devils” (v. 24). Jesus highlighted how ludicrous their accusation was that Satan would cast out Satan, and that rather this sign was proof that the kingdom of God has come upon you (vv. 25-28).
No matter what Jesus did these scribes and Pharisees were always asking for more proof. It is much like skeptics today who can look at the vast creation about us with all its intricate design and still maintain that God does not exist (Psalm 14:1; 19:1). They are always asking for more apparent evidence, but they have plenty already. The problem is not the evidence, but their hearts. They are not being honest with the sufficient evidence God has given.
These scribes and Pharisees are like religious people today who reject the plain teaching from the Bible. When you show them the Bible passage that contradicts what they are teaching or practicing they say, “Well, it only says that one time. I’m going to have to have more than that.” How many times does God have to say something in the Bible for it to be true and for us to be required to follow it? Where will this thinking stop? Will a person like this be satisfied if the Bible says something two times? What about three? People like this have seen more than enough proof; they just are not being honest with the evidence. If we are going to be honest we will have to take what the Bible says instead of forming special rules that exempt us each time it says something we do not like. The good old hymn poses this question: “How firm a foundation, you saints of the Lord, is laid for your faith in his excellent Word! What more can he say than to you he has said, to you who for refuge to Jesus have fled?” God has said in His written word all we need to have acceptable faith and be pleasing to Him (2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:3). Those who dismiss His word by requiring more are not being honest with what He has given.