S (Scripture): Matthew 12:38. Then some of the experts in the law along with some Pharisees answered Jesus, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from you.” 39 But he answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation asks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40 For just as Jonah was in the belly of the huge fish for three days and three nights, so the Son of Man will be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights. 41 The people of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented when Jonah preached to them – and now, something greater than Jonah is here! 42 The queen of the South will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon – and now, something greater than Solomon is here!”
O (Observation): The Pharisees are at it again. And this time, Jesus puts them lower than the evil residents of Ninevah and the outsiders in “the South” (perhaps the Ethiopian region). Talk about a slap in the face!
Of course, Jesus lifts up these strange folks as examples, because they saw the light of God, peeked into that light, and recognized God’s sovereignty. The Ninevites “repented when Jonah preached” (Mt 12:41) and the queen of the South “came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon” (Mt 12:42). And now, with Jesus, who is healing and teaching with authority ALREADY, he is that much greater than Jonah or Solomon! And the Pharisees still want Jesus to show them a sign! They are still not satisfied.
Jesus acknowledges that these folks just won’t see the light…and he is deeply troubled by their resistance. He is troubled with them, because the gift of God – Jesus, himself – is in their very midst and yet their hearts and minds are blind to God’s presence on earth. It was easier for those outside the Church (Ninevites and Ethiopians of the time) to see God on earth than it is for this group of Pharisees to see God in the person of Jesus…in the flesh and blood.
A (Application): I still sense that God has work to do in me, in terms of keeping my eyes open to God’s presence. I’m a pretty insecure person, and I tend to look at what others are doing and compare myself. Sometimes my insecurity leads me to inaction, because I think I’m not good enough to complete the task…to the point that I don’t even take step number one.
Then I read a text like this and find that I’m in the seats with the Pharisees. I’m looking for a sign. And the truth is Jesus is already in my midst! The sign is Jesus himself! And stepping out in faith is less scary knowing that He is with me.
What insecurities block you from moving forward in your callings and in your ministry? Can you look back and see moments where Jesus was carrying you through with grace? Or times when the Spirit was clearly in charge of giving you faith to move?
P (Prayer): Lord, help us to know that you are already and always helping us to take one step forward in faith toward you and in love toward one another. Amen.