Friday, September 18, 2009
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
At least twice during his ministry Jesus’ opponents requested a sign from him (Matt. 12:38 ff., 16:1-4). Specifically they requested a sign from heaven. In both instances Jesus had worked a miracle that demonstrated God’s mercy and power. In the first he cast out a devil from a man and healed him. The Pharisees accused him of witchcraft (casting out devils by the power of the devil). In Matt. 16:1, Jesus is being “tempted” by his distractors. The Pharisees and Sadducees had no intention of being convinced of Jesus’ Messiahship. They wanted to entrap him.
Jesus refuses both requests. In fact, he gives the same answer: he would only give them the sign of Jonah. The sign of Jonah refers to his resurrection (Jonah was resurrected from the fish’s belly, as it were). In John 2:18-22, Jesus gives the same sign in substance though with no reference to Jonah. So the sign that Jesus leaves the world is his death and resurrection.
This is important for us to note. We often look for signs from heaven. We wonder why our Lord allows his name to be slandered. We wish that we could be relieved of the doubts the world raises in regards to the faith. But Jesus will not give us a sign from heaven. Our faith is trusting him.
The fact is that the gospel is sufficiently suited to rescue sinners and prepare them for heavenly glory. The fact that the enfleshed Son of God suffered on behalf of sinners, and that he calls us out of our sin (not waiting for us to make ourselves worthy), and that the all glorious God has committed himself to us should be all that the failing heart should want. Victory over sin and victory over the grave are signs enough for those who know their sin, and more than enough. There is no need to look for the spectacular, let the Pharisees and Sadducees do that.