Matthew 16:1-12 – GIVE ME A SIGN!
“You know how to interpret the weather signs in the sky, but you don’t know how to interpret the signs of the times!” (Matthew 16:3 NLT).
Dusk in the park at Autumn; cold fingers on my face as the night air begins to envelop the earth; fallen leaves forming a carpet of colours muffling the sound of footfall. A fleeting feeling of abandonment fills my senses as bare branches, frozen against the sky become etchings of wrinkled faces that I have known. Wrapped up to insulate myself from the Autumn air, I am still exposed to it’s beauty and in this temporary reprieve from Winter’s harsh indifference, I am once again reminded of the seasons of my life.
GIVE ME A SIGN!
“Give me a sign!” I want a clear sign to show me the way ahead when all I find are faded footprints that beckon me to follow; half-hints of hope to convince my recalcitrant doubts about the future and persuade my flickering faith to persist. At times I turn away even though the path is cleared of Autumn leaves and debris from a storm. Summer shines it’s light but I am blinded by it’s truth and I insist on another path, well travelled; the path I know that leads in circles round the park; the path of Pharisees and Sadducees; of reason and religious leaven; of blind indifference to miracles and to the sign of Jonah. “Lord, give me a sign!” … and then You lead me past the Cross and to the empty tomb, past my fears and to the upper room, past my pride to prostrate fall in fear and love before Your throne. And there before the glassy sea in worship You renew the calls of spring in me. In chords divine Your voice like rivers flowing from my heart says “Be My sign”
(Ross Cochrane June 2013)
United only in opposing Christ, they come. The Pharisees challenge Jesus to produce a supernatural sign of their own choosing. The Sadducees, who do not believe in signs and supernatural events agree in their desire to silence Jesus; to discredit Him by asking for a sign, especially if He fails to do as they demand. Matthew Henry says “It is great hypocrisy, when we slight the signs of God’s ordaining, to seek for signs of our own devising.” Jesus paints this demand in winter colours; Spiritual adultery! Unfaithfulness to God! “Only an evil, adulterous generation would demand a miraculous sign, but the only sign I will give them is the sign of the prophet Jonah” (Matthew 16:4 NLT). Then Jesus leaves and if I persist in asking for my own sign, I too will remain blind and left behind amidst His miracles; the footprints left in Jesus’ wake.
Jonah the prophet preached to Nineveh, an evil and adulterous city and they repented (Jonah 3:5-10). Extraordinary! Changed lives! Is the repentance of thousands of people the sign of the prophet Jonah as Jesus brings healing and understanding to their lives? He leaves the Pharisees and Sadducees wondering about Jonah, but in no doubt that He has associated them personally with an “evil and adulterous generation”.
What greater signs can God give than the signs of lives changed radically forever. No excuse for unbelief. What right do I have to come to Jesus and demand signs of my own choosing, instead of discerning the signs God has chosen to give. His remarkable, outstanding, astonishing, brilliant, miraculous signs! No not the sunset or the seasons but Christ alive in me! Jesus is God’s sign. My changed life is God’s sign to a fallen world.
The ultimate sign has been given when Jesus died for my sins, was buried, and rose again from the dead. Like Jonah, He spent three days and nights in the grave. Romans 1:4 (MSG and NLT) says “His unique identity as Son of God was shown by the Spirit when Jesus was raised from the dead, by the power of the Holy Spirit. He is Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 10:9 (NLT) says “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”
If this message has been like a sign and helped in pointing you towards Christ, please pass it forward to others who need to discern the signs Jesus speaks of.