Friday, March 04, 2022

The Vision (3.4.22): We would see a sign from thee

Image: Beaded work, from "These Memories Can't Wait: Beryl Solla, A Retrospective," PVCC, Charlottesville, Virginia, March 2022

Note: Devotion taken from last Sunday's sermon on Matthew 12:38-45.

Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from thee (Matthew 12:38).

The skeptics of Christ asked a sign from him. In Luke’s account he says, “And others, tempting him, sought of him a sign from heaven” (Luke 11:16). In John’s Gospel, this word “sign [sémeion]” is one of his favorite words to describe the miracles of the Lord Jesus.

But what has Christ just done? He healed a man blind and mute, by casting out a demon (Matthew 12:22). What we learn is that those who reject Christ are never satisfied by the evidence of his authority and power. They always claim to need just a little more! Those whose faith is based on their experiences are never satisfied by those experiences.

Of course, they were also trying to manipulate our Lord, to control him, to have him do their bidding, to make him their servant, rather than bending the knee before him as their Lord. Do you recall Christ’s description of this generation as being like fickle children in the marketplace (11:16-17)?

Consider Christ’s account of the Rich Man and Lazarus in Luke 16. The Rich Man in hell looks to Father Abraham and asks him to send Lazarus from the dead to warn his five brothers about this place of torment. That would have been quite a sign! But how did Abraham respond? “They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them” (v. 29). And, “If they hear not Moses and the prophets neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead” (v. 31).

Here too the scribes and Pharisees ask for a sign, and Christ gives them the Bible. First, he rebukes them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall be no sign given to it….” (Matthew 12:39). Then, he points them to the Scriptures, to Jonah and Solomon, declaring, “a greater than Jonas is here” (v. 41), and “a greater than Solomon is here” (v. 42).

In the light of the reality of who Christ is and how God has revealed him in the Scriptures, will one really say that he needs something else to make him believe? You say you need a sign? You need more evidence? He has risen from the dead. You have the Scriptures. Is that not enough?

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

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