Tag Archives: Signs

Proof

Want proof that Jesus is God’s Son?  Tangible proof?  You are not alone.  Trouble is, tangible proof never seems to be enough.  Back in Jesus’ day, He was healing people, calming storms and feeding thousands, but that wasn’t enough for the religious experts.  They wanted more.

” The Pharisees and Sadducees came to Jesus and tested him by asking him to show them a sign from heaven.” (Matthew 16:1)

By the way, in today’s terminology, these two groups represented the extremely conservative and the extremely liberal religious groups.  But they shared a human trait in common:  The things He was doing right there in front of everybody were not enough.  “Show us something from Heaven,” they asked.

“He replied, “When evening comes, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red,’ and in the morning, ‘Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. A wicked and adulterous generation looks for a miraculous sign, ….” (Matthew 16:2-4a)

The wickedness Jesus referred to, at its core, is the human desire to be god, to be in charge and control.  We want to say what is right and wrong.  We like to think we are in control over everything (even the temperature of the planet!).  The adultery Jesus pointed to is the human tendency to chase after new and different gods.  We want to go off and study under some spiritual mystic or medium, to change our names and adopt another religion that catches our fancy.

“Wait a minute,” you ask, “didn’t you just say that we wanted to be god? Isn’t it logically inconsistent to want that and also chase after new and different gods?”  Yes it is.  But then again, I said these were “human” tendencies!  Since when have humans been entirely logical and consistent?

Signs on the highway don’t help those who are too distracted to see them.  They don’t work for those who think they already know the way.  Jesus had been performing many signs, the things He called the “signs of the times.”  But they wanted more.  God gives signs, but they are of value only to those who are humble and open, to those who are ready to receive them and respond to them.  God’s signs sail right past the “adulterous” and “wicked.”  That’s why Jesus said,

““Be careful,” … “Be on your guard against the yeast [the teaching and attitudes] of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”” (Matthew 16:6 excerpts – with my explanation)

If you understand this blindness of the religious experts, you can see the contrast in what happens when the disciples begin to “have eyes to see.”  It’s pretty cool and we’ll take it up next time.

Quotes: The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Pay Attention

When was the last time you saw a miracle?  Jesus performed many miracles during His time on earth, to make people aware of God’s presence and power.  He used miracles as “signs” to validate His own identity and message while pointing people to God.  He said,

“Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves.” (John 14:11)

He still performs miracles today and it is for the same purpose.  But some people are so distracted by the substance of the miracle – whether it is something as amazing as physical healing or something as simple as providing bread – that they miss the sign contained in it.  After miraculously feeding a huge gathering, Jesus warned them not to follow Him around to get more bread.  Miracles are done to open our eyes to the power of God!  Even physical healing, as wonderful as it is and as grateful as we are to receive it, is merely temporary.  You get healed of one thing only to die later on of something else!    Miracles are signs that point us to the presence and power of God.

Trouble is, many people cannot see miracles.  Perhaps miracles make them uneasy.  Their first response is to explain away what happened by trying to understand the physical explanation of how it occurred.  But the point in a miracle is not how it was done but rather, why it was done!  I am convinced that the reason we in the United States don’t see more miracles is because we have blinded ourselves to them.  We are so fixated on the  how that we miss the why.  Jesus reflected on that kind of blindness:

” At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children.” (Matthew 11:25)

Jesus didn’t want us to be childish, but childlike.  He wasn’t telling people to park their brains at the door but, rather, to open their eyes!  To recover their natural capacity for wonder and awe when confronted by the presence and power of God.  To look for why instead of smugly dismissing the miraculous with explanations of how.  Open your eyes!  Pay attention!

This is more important than you may realize.  Faced with the stony faced blindness of the “wise and learned,”  Jesus warned them:

“And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted up to the skies? No, you will go down to the depths. If the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Sodom, it would have remained to this day. But I tell you that it will be more bearable for Sodom on the day of judgment than for you.” (Matthew 11:23-24)

More bearable for the people of Sodom, because they would have paid attention, they would have gotten the point.  They would have turned away from their arrogant, “know-it-all” attitudes, and responded to the power and majesty of God with humility and reverence.