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February 12 | Matthew 16:1-12


 

DAILY READING

 

REFLECTION


Do You Long for Signs?

by Pr. Dave Mann


"A wicked and adulterous generation looks for a sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah."


Verse 4 is the key verse of this passage. Such a negative saying from the lips of Jesus! And to make matters worse, let me add that every generation since the 1st century, including our own, has merited the same evaluation.  


Why do I say that? I have heard people say, “If only I could see an awe-inspiring miracle, I would believe in Jesus in an instant.” I sincerely doubt that the promised response of faith would happen. Even if such a miracle happened, the response would not be faith, but rather, “Do that again ... only slower!” Skepticism is not cured by a supernatural sign. Skepticism is swayed by a change of heart, by life-giving trust and faith.


I don’t believe Jesus performed signs to win followers. Oh, there may have been a few fence-sitters nudged toward faith. But there were others who, even in the face of a miracle, were sent headlong in the opposite direction. Take the raising of Lazarus from the dead, for example.  Mary and Martha (and presumably Lazarus) were already devout followers. Martha’s declaration of faith (John 11:25-27) came before the raising of her brother from death to life, not because of it. Mary and Martha’s faith is why they sent for Jesus when Lazarus was near death. However, after the miracle, the chief priests, the opponents of Jesus, were all the more set on killing him AND Lazarus precisely because of the death-defying miracle (John 12:10). Signs follow faith. Rarely do they produce long-lasting saving faith.


So, why did Jesus perform healings, deliverances, and miracles? Jesus was moved by compassion. He saw a need and sought to meet it. Jesus saw the grief of Jairus at the death of his daughter (Mk 5:21-24, 35-43). Jesus felt the angst of the woman who had a flow of blood for 12 years (Mk 5:25-34). Jesus felt the faith of those who simply wanted to touch the hem of his garment (Mk 5:28). Jesus was moved by suffering (Mk 5:34). Jesus wanted to bring light into the darkness (Mk 12:52). Compassion moved Jesus to act.


Nevertheless, one sign Jesus does endorse – the sign of Jonah. This sign of Jonah, of course, refers to the time that Jonah spent inside the great fish (a death of sorts) and then was propelled out onto dry land to accomplish the will of the Lord. Jesus was swallowed up, for a time, by death, but then by the power of the life-giving Spirit, by the obedience of the Son, and by the declaration of the Word of the Almighty Father, LIFE burst forth from the tomb – a LIFE that will never die, and which will carry with it everyone who trusts in Jesus. All who believe and trust in the power underlying this sign will indeed be saved for all eternity.


PRAYER

Lord Jesus, forgive me for longing to see the spectacles of your supernatural power. Rather, allow me to be carried along by your compassion for the suffering of those who bear your image. But most of all, allow me and everyone in my sphere of influence to be caught in faith and trust in your most spectacular sign of breaking the bonds of sin, death, and the power of the devil, even your RESURRECTION from the dead. In Jesus’ name, Amen!







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2 Comments


robin.lorms
Feb 12

Good morning, Pastor Dave. I really appreciate your insightful thoughts on the "core" reason for Jesus' miracles. We all know that Jesus has compassion on the downtrodden but I had not given any in-depth thought to His true motive which was to heal suffering out of a compassionate heart. We read in the Word God defining Himself as the "gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger...." Lord, help me to bring Your gift of compassion to those desperately seeking relief in this most difficult world. Thank you, Dave,


ROBIN LORMS

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dceppley
Feb 12

Dave, love the line, “Signs follow faith.”

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