Wisconsin Lutheran Chapel logo

God’s Word for You

Luke 11:31-32 One greater than Solomon is here

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Friday, July 20, 2018

31 The Queen of the South will be raised at the judgment with the men of this generation. She will condemn them because she came from the ends of the earth to listen to the wisdom of Solomon. But one greater than Solomon is here! 32 The men of Nineveh will rise at the judgment with this generation. They will condemn it because they repented at the preaching of Jonah. But now one greater than Jonah is here!

Jesus makes a second example of people from outside of Israel who heard the word of God and kept it. In Solomon’s time (1 Kings 10:1-13; 2 Chronicles 9:1-12) the Queen of Sheba came to listen to Solomon’s wisdom. When she came, she was skeptical. She came “to test him with hard questions” (2 Chronicles 9:1), but “Solomon answered all her questions; nothing was too hard for him to explain to her” (2 Chronicles 9:2). She was so amazed, “her breath was no longer in her” (Hebrew, 9:4). She got the wind knocked out of her! He took her breath away!

This woman from the south of Arabia (Jesus calls her “the Queen of the South,” the southern shore of Arabia) had come a long way to hear Solomon, and every step was worth the trip. She left Solomon with extravagant gifts: more than a hundred talents of gold, spices, gemstones, and other things. But the men of Jesus’ generation? They didn’t have to walk anywhere to hear the Lord. He came to them. When he took their breath away with his preaching and his miracles, they only got jealous and angry and hateful. They wanted him dead. So Jesus said: On Judgment Day, that Queen of the South will be raised (Jesus’ verb ἐγερθήσεται is passive—a gospel turn of grammar if ever there was one) in order to bring condemnation against these Pharisees and Teachers of the Law.

The same thing would happen with the men of Nineveh. They would rise on the Last Day, too (Jesus’ verb is active there, but the root word is different: anistemi is the usual word for the resurrection). They would also rise to condemn these Pharisees and Teachers of the Law.

Pastor Wenzel says that “the idea of a resurrection from the dead is foreign to the context” (Gospel Commentary p. 252, column 2). He does not mean that the Bible doesn’t preach the resurrection from the dead, but that he thinks this passage isn’t talking about the resurrection. But if not, what kind of judgment does Jesus mean? I don’t think we can dismiss the idea of witnesses being called on Judgment Day. There are other passages about Christians standing as witnesses in the Judgment: “Do you not know that we will judge angels?” Paul said (1 Corinthians 6:3). What Nicodemus said about the Sanhedrin is evidently true of Judgment Day: “Does our law condemn anyone without first hearing him to find out what he is doing?” (John 7:50).

Jesus Christ, greater than Solomon and greater than Jonah, is the Lord of all. He is the Judge before whom we will all stand. If you and I might be called as witnesses, we only need to speak the truth. But will any accusation be brought against us? No. “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life has set me free from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:1-2). In Jesus we are spotless and clean. We are justified, we are sanctified, and we will be glorified in eternal life with our glorious Savior forever.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim SmithAbout Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. His wife, Kathryn, attended the Chapel from 1987-1990 while studying Secondary Education (Theater and Math) at UW-Madison. Kathryn’s father, John Meyer, was also the first man to serve as a Vicar at Chapel.

To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.



Browse Devotion Archive