Matthew 12:41-45

Mat 12:41 (KJB)
The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here.

Nineveh was the capital city of Assyria and Nineveh was noted for its wickedness. Assyria was probably the most powerful empire at that time. (Jonah 1:2 KJV) Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me.  The sins of Nineveh were full and it was time for them to face their sins so God sent Jonah to Nineveh but Jonah did not go because he hated the Assyrians and did not want to see them repent of their sins, so he fled to Tarsus and there God brought him back by means of the big fish. When Jonah finally obeyed and went to Nineveh, he preached the message of God’s impending judgment upon them and that resulted in massive repentance from the King all the way down the social line.

Here Jesus uses this event as a basis for comparison. He states that these wicked Assyrians heard the preaching of Jonah and repented of their sins. They will be able to rise in the judgment and condemn the present generation because they are hearing the message of their impending doom and they have not hearkened to the teaching but have rejected it. To rise in judgment is a legal method of openly accusing someone of something. A person would be called upon and they would rise from their sitting position and make their accusation in front of everyone present. Then Jesus tells them that Jonah, a prophet of God brought the message and was heeded. Here Jesus is stating that a greater than Jonah is here and their hearts are so darkened by sin and rebellious that have rejected the message.

Then we ask the question as to how is Jesus greater than Jonah:

1) Jonah was a prophet of God - Jesus was the Son of God
2) Jonah went to a people he hated - Jesus came to a people He loved
3) Jonah tried to go in the opposite direction - Jesus did not avoid any opportunity to preach the Kingdom and He faithfully went to the cross.   (Luke 9:51)
4) Jonah preached the message of Judgment - Jesus preached the message of the Gospel which included eternal life.

Mat 12:42 (KJB)
The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for she came from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here.

Then Jesus makes a second comparison and that is to Solomon. After Solomon had made his famous decision concerning the child and the two women claiming to be his mother, his fame spread both far and wide. That is when the Queen of Sheba had come to visit Solomon to test his wisdom. (1 Kings 10:1-13) Sheba was located in the southwestern region of the Arabian peninsula which would be near modern Yemen. This queen of the south will also have the right to stand in the judgment and point an accusing finger at the present generation because of what she did to seek the wisdom of Solomon and the comparison as Jesus being greater than Solomon.

1) She came from a far distance. The distance from Sheba to Israel was about 1200 miles (1931 km). Jesus had come to where the people were and He was the one who made the journey from Heaven to earth.

2) Solomon had great wisdom. Solomon was given great wisdom but Jesus is the giver of that wisdom.

3) The queen of Sheba had stated that the wisdom of Solomon was more than she expected. Jesus came with great wisdom plus mighty works as no one ever heard anyone speak as He did.

4) Solomon gave the Queen many great gifts. The people Jesus ministered to gave Him very little to express their thanks and love, instead they gave Him hatred and the cross.

This is why the Queen of Sheba will have the right to stand in the judgment and condemn the generation which has rejected their own Messiah.

Mat 12:43 (KJB)
When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none.

Then Jesus changes the subject and apparently had aimed this particular parable at the Pharisees and their exorcists, of course always remembering that the crowd assembled was listening. The Jewish exorcists would face a serious dilemma whenever they would excise a demon from a person. Keep in mind these Jewish exorcists had rejected their own Messiah so their exorcisms were limited and that limitation is as follows. Jesus then begins the parable by stating that a man has been exorcised and the evil spirit has left his body and looked for another host to indwell but he was unable to find one. A dry place may have reference to the desert or another dry place or it may refer to other unsaved people. (Jude 1:12 KJV) These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots; The words “without water” in Jude 7 is the same word used here for “dry.” The “rest” spoken about in this verse has to do with the fact that the devil seeks rest in a body where he can wreak havoc on his host.

Mat 12:44 (KJB)
Then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished.

So the devil is unable to find another body to indwell so what he does is he decides to return to the body which he had left. First he finds it empty with no other spirit indwelling it. Then he finds that it was swept, in other words, since this man was no longer under the influence of that devil he was able to clean up his life and make an entrance back into society. Then he finds it garnished or adorned with the proper clothing of his social status and this also means that he now performs works of goodness and kindness because he is no longer under the evil spirit’s influence. Now here is the limitation on the abilities of the Jewish exorcists. When Jesus had delivered a person from being possessed of a devil, He did not allow the evil spirit to return to that person. (Mark 9:25 KJV) When Jesus saw that the people came running together, he rebuked the foul spirit, saying unto him, Thou dumb and deaf spirit, I charge thee, come out of him, and enter no more into him. The Jewish exorcists did not have the power to command this and normally after Jesus delivered the person, they became saved which meant the Holy Spirit indwelled that person thus bringing in a real peace. Without the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, the evil spirit could once again go back to his old host. This is the difference between reformation and transformation. A person who is reformed has not been transformed and is still susceptible to demonic possession but those who are transformed by the Gospel, will never have to worry about that again.

Mat 12:45 (KJB)
Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first. Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation.

Worse - More severe or a worse evil

Now this devil does not just go in by himself, instead he calls seven of his companions to indwell that man. So the possession is now seven times more worse than it was before because he had no defense against being possessed again where as those whom Jesus delivered had a defense. The lifestyle that the man had lived previously was evil but now that evil will be magnified seven times. The number seven may be indicating that his life will be totally taken over by these devils. As a result, his present life will be more destructive making this time in his life more severe than the beginning. Then Jesus makes a comparison between the demon possessed man and the generation rejecting Him. Just as their opposition to Jesus at the beginning was minimal, it was now escalating to the point of hatred and their desire to put Him to death. Then the ultimate last state of that man will be eternal damnation and that is the worst state anyone can find themselves in.