Some favorite messages spotted on church signs or billboards from Beliefnet:
-Fire Insurance Inside
-This Church Is Prayer Conditioned
-God Answers Knee Mail
-PRAY NOW! Avoid Christmas Rush!
-Sign broken, come inside for message
-This is a ch–ch. What’s missing? U R!
-Stop in the name of love and meet the Supreme
-Wal-Mart’s not the only savings place
People love signs, sometimes for their direction, sometimes for their information and sometimes for their humor. Signs help us to think ahead, and they prepare us for what is to come. A world without signs would be a very confusing place indeed.
When Jesus walked the earth, the people were no different, they too loved signs, but many of them were looking for signs of a different nature when it came to Christ. They wanted signs as proof of who He claimed to be. Jesus knew what they were up to when He said to them, “Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe” (John 4:48).
His claims of being sent by God were hard to grasp. After all, He certainly wasn’t the first one making such a claim. We can hardly blame the Pharisees and others for doubting. But it was when He claimed to be more than that, that they became much more concerned.
Over time, those following Jesus began to grow in number dramatically. Concerned with their own decrease of power and prestige if this should continue, they were desperate to trap Jesus, so they plotted to discredit Him by testing Him. We pick up the story in Matthew 16:1-4: “And the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and to test him they asked him to show them a sign from heaven. He answered them, “When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’ And in the morning, ‘It will be stormy today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah.” So he left them and departed.”
Jesus was not going to have any of that. He would not be their genie in the bottle showing fancy tricks to prove His divinity. Had they opened their eyes, they would have seen that everything that was needed to prove His authenticity had already been done. The lame were made to walk and the deaf were made to hear. The blind were given sight and the sick were healed. Right before this episode Jesus had fed over four thousand people with seven loaves of bread and a few fish. If they still needed signs, it meant that their capacity to learn and accept had been broken.
In many ways, we are still like the Pharisees of Jesus’ time. We too wait for signs from Jesus to prove who He is. Some of us wait for good things to happen to us to prove that Jesus is there. Others require their prayers to be answered in a certain way before they will believe. Still others look for miracles and wonders to prove Jesus is who He claims to be.
This need for signs is not from God. These needs are the work of the devil’s whispers seeding doubt in unprepared minds. Jesus said, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign” (Matthew 16:4). Faith cannot be built on signs and wonders, faith is built on trust and wisdom. Trust in the Creator of all and the wisdom to listen to and follow His direction.
The signs we should concern ourselves with are the signs we are directed to by God that show the urgency of His coming, “And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves, people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world. For the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near” (Luke 21:25-28).
These are the signs that God says we should look for. The signs we look for to prove Jesus’ story only serve to place doubt when they don’t happen as we think they should. Trust in God and don’t require signs to hold on to that trust. He has already done all the signs and wonders required for anyone to believe. Please pray with me:
Heavenly Father, forgive us for requiring you to put on a show for us. Help us to see the signs and wonders you have already given and lead us to faith based on trust. Amen.