The Pharisees and Sadducees came to Jesus. In order to test him they asked him to show them a sign from heaven. But he replied, “At evening you say, ‘It will be nice weather because the sky is bright red.’ And in the morning you say, ‘There will be bad weather today because the sky is cloudy.’ You know how to make sense of the sky’s appearance. But you are unable to recognize the signs that point to what the time is. An evil and unfaithful generation searches for a sign. But it won’t receive any sign except Jonah’s sign.” Then he left them and went away (Matthew 16:1-4, Common English Bible).
We give the Pharisees and Sadducees a bad rap sometimes. Sure, they are always quoting the law and are far more interested in the letter of the law than the spirit of the law. That is the reason Jesus was always reminding them that they weren’t quite as good as they thought themselves to be.
Still, we often times can be a great deal more like the Pharisees and Sadducees than we really care to admit. In our lesson today the Pharisees and Sadducees are asking Jesus for a sign from heaven, a sign that would prove he is actually the Messiah. Never mind that these guys had already seen Jesus heal people (Matthew 12:13). To my mind, there are only a few things more Jesus could do, raise someone from the dead (Jairus’ daughter/Lazarus) and resurrect himself from the dead) that would have been a much greater sign from heaven.
Because they had already seen “a sign” and had not accepted that, whatever else Jesus might have done, they probably wouldn’t have accepted that either. We humans are just that way.
Further, it not only is not something new to our own time period. It wasn’t even knew in the days of the Pharisees and Sadducees. Gideon, a judge of ancient Israel, wanted a sign from God that he was to lead Israel. Not only was Gideon asking for a sign, Gideon wanted a specific sign. Gideon laid out a piece of wool fleece and told God, make it wet with dew but leave the ground dry. God gave Gideon the sign. The fleece was so wet with the dew that Gideon rang a bowl full of water from the fleece. That seems like a pretty clear sign to me. But it wasn’t to Gideon. He then asks for the reverse, cover the ground with dew and leave the fleece dry. God responds correctly again. The land is wet but the fleece is dry. It is pretty amazing that God gives Gideon a very clear sign and it wasn’t good enough (Judges 6:36-40).
We aren’t a whole lot better. “God, if you want me to do this, then you do this.” Even then, particularly if it is something we don’t really want to do, we will ask God for a repeat performance. We will even do so sometimes when God has made the response perfectly clear.
For his part, Jesus refused to give the Pharisees and Sadducees a sign. He knew that in the end it wouldn’t matter. The people in question that day were going to believe and do what they wanted regardless of what Jesus might have done. Jesus said the only sign they would get was the sign of Jonah, who spent three days in the belly of a fish and the Pharisees and Sadducees would see Jesus spend three days in a tomb. They saw it, and yet, even with Jesus’ clue of things to come, still most did not believe.
What clear sign has God given you that you choose not to believe?
Have a blessed day in the Lord.
Joy and Peace,
Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved