Posts Tagged ‘Jonah’

Matthew 16:1-12 – GIVE ME A SIGN! 

"Wrinkled faces I have met" Photo drawing by author Ross Cochrane June 9, 2013

“Wrinkled faces I have met”
Photo drawing by author Ross Cochrane June 9, 2013

“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.” 

Pastor Ross

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.

 

 

Part 14 – Matthew 12:38-41 – THE GREATEST MIRACLE OF ALL!

3 Days and Nights

A few days ago, my good friend Joe (not his real name) was taken to hospital after the antibiotics that he was taking didn’t appear to be making a discernable difference. He deteriorated quickly and after a few days, he was just a skeleton lying in bed, fighting for each breath.

I drove to work on Thursday still pleading to the Lord for a MIRACLE of healing but Joe had died around 2 am that morning, Thursday 5 November 2010 at only 91 years of age. I know that seems OLD to you, but he wasn’t. Good mates are AGELESS. He was someone I loved, a man with a deep faith, a good friend. Heaven rejoices and I am happy for him too but there is an empty space inside which tugs at my heart because I will miss him. Where was my miracle?

When the Pharisees challenge Jesus to show them a sign in Matthew 12:39-40 (NLT) it is NOT in order to see someone they LOVE HEALED, or to see people they CARE ABOUT RESTORED. They want theatrics, a circus show, for Jesus to jump through a hoop at their bidding. They have NO COMPASSION for the healing of a demonised blind man who has been unable to speak and NO CONCERN for the man with a deformed hand who was totally restored. They want DEATH to their enemies – a bolt of lightning to DESTROY the Roman oppressors or at the very least someone to lead an UPRISING. Where was their miracle?

Jesus sees right through them. He says “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.”

What on earth has JONAH got to do with the Pharisees asking for a sign, or for that matter Joe? Well, Jesus goes on to explain, “For as Jonah was in the belly of the great fish for three days and three nights, so will the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights.” His powerful words in Matthew 12:41(NLT) still ring in my ears – “The people of Nineveh will stand up against this generation on judgment day and condemn it, for they REPENTED of their sins at the preaching of Jonah. Now someone GREATER than Jonah is here – but you refuse to repent.”

The Pharisees want a SIGN, a miracle, to prove that Jesus is from God. Jesus seems to be saying “You have all the signs you need in the Old Testament Scriptures already and they all lead to Me!” He doesn’t mess around with their bad attitudes or get DISTRACTED from the essentials. He leads them to the GREATEST MIRACLE OF ALL.

When I think of the story of Jonah I think of the miracle of him being SWALLOWED by a fish and surviving for 3 days and nights. And since that is a picture of the RESURRECTION of Jesus, I want to get into working out the details of how these 3 days and nights fit in with when Jesus’ died. How was it 3 days AND 3 nights?

But it seems to me I can miss the forest for the trees if I’m not careful. The MATHEMATICS of the resurrection is not the REAL EMPHASIS of this passage. Jonah’s resurrection from the fish was a great sign, but the GREATEST MIRACLE, however, according to Jesus, is the MIRACLE OF REPENTANCE AND FORGIVENESS! A whole generation of Ninevites REPENTED because of Jonah’s message. That’s the intention of God. To see people FORGIVEN AND RESTORED to Him! Jesus, on the other hand, is faced with people who “REFUSE to repent” (Matthew 12:41).

My friend Joe knew THE GREATEST MIRACLE OF ALL. He knew the forgiveness that comes from believing in Christ as Lord and Saviour. He leaves a LEGACY OF FAITH. His legacy is a family who has come to love and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Jonah says “I knew that you are a MERCIFUL AND COMPASSIONATE GOD, SLOW TO GET ANGRY AND FILLED WITH UNFAILING LOVE. You are eager to turn back from destroying people.”

God hasn’t changed. 2 Peter 3:9 (NLT) says “The Lord …does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.” He loves us as we are but loves us too much to leave us that way. He wants us to respond to Him, to trust in Christ, to experience THE GREATEST MIRACLE OF ALL – FORGIVENESS and a life changed forever. The invitation He gives is to us; to participate in the MIRACLE OF REPENTANCE.

Pastor Ross