Blessed… Give Me a Sign

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,
Keith

Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Author:

Spirita Spiro (Esperanza for "Spirit's Breath) is rather new in my life. But the blog is not. I began writing a blog several years ago. It lived under the title, "The Pastor Ponders." Over the years I have tried several different names and "The Pastor Ponders" always seemed to fit best. I am trying again with Spirita Spiro. For 27 years I was a full-time pastor in the United Methodist Church. This year, August 2018, I semi-retired (I can't actually retire quite yet) and began teaching social studies. It is something I have always wanted to do and if I was going to do this, I needed to make it sooner rather than later. So, I made the move. I thought with the career change there also needed to be a name change to the blog and other things, such as spiritual direction. Spirita Spiro is my attempt to share some of my thoughts. I often share what I am thinking with my dog "Bishop," but he keeps his thoughts to himself. He will even go to sleep sometimes while I am sharing my thoughts with him. The truth is, if it doesn't involve getting his ears scratched, his belly rubbed or some kind of treat, he really doesn't care. I will say this for him, he never argues with me or tells me I am wrong. So, I decided to share some of my thoughts with whoever might come across this blog in their ramblings around the Internet. I live with my wife Cindy and our little dog in Lufkin, Texas. I spent the past 27 years as a full-time United Methodist pastor. Most recently I served as pastor of First United Methodist Church in Sweeny, Texas. I have also served United Methodist congregations throughout East Texas including rural Madison County (Elwood UMC), Lovelady (First UMC) and Kennard (Center Hill UMC), Canton (First UMC), rural Smith County (Mt. Sylvan UMC and Union Chapel UMC), Grapeland (First UMC), Tyler (Pleasant Retreat UMC), Santa Fe (Aldersgate UMC), Freeport (First UMC) and Oyster Creek (Oyster Creek UMC), Diboll (First UMC), and now Sweeny (First UMC). My wife Cindy and I have been married for over 40 years. We have two grown sons. Wayne and his wife Nikki and all our grandsons (Kaleb, Noah, and Jaxon) live in Southern California. Christopher and his wife Morgan and both our granddaughters (Jenna and Natalie) live in Tyler Texas. I enjoy preaching and all aspects of preaching from research to writing to the actual preaching event. I also love writing, reading, playing the guitar as well as a bit of drawing. I have spent quite a bit of time over the past two years working with paracord on various projects, mostly prayer ropes I usually give away. I sing bass with a local barbershop chorus called The Coastalaires. I have also recently begun doing a little wood carving. I also enjoy playing with Bishop, something he likes a great deal better than listening to my thoughts. I hold an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Business Data Processing, specializing in Microcomputers from San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas, a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a minor in History from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX, a Master of Divinity from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX and a Doctor of Ministry from Carolina University of Theology. When I was a student at Carolina, the school was in Iron Station North Carolina. They have since relocated to Manassas Virginia (Yeah, go figure, a school named Carolina geographically in Virginia). This blog is mostly devotional writing, but there are other things here too. Just about every week I will either post my sermon manuscript or a video of the worship service. On occasion, I will post something I see in society. Occasionally I write a short story, a poem, or a song and will post it here too. I will say this, my motivations for writing this blog are really selfish. I write it to get what I am thinking out of my head and onto something a bit more permanent. They say, after all, once something is on the internet it never really goes away. Still, I hope you enjoy reading it. And, should you desire, you can one-up Bishop and actually tell me what you think. Who knows, it might generate a bit of discussion between you and me and anyone else who might make their way here. With Joy and Thankfulness, Keith Sweeny, Texas May 2018

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