S (Scripture): Matthew 16:1 Now when the Pharisees and Sadducees came to test Jesus, they asked him to show them a sign from heaven. 2 He said, “When evening comes you say, ‘It will be fair weather, because the sky is red,’ 3 and in the morning, ‘It will be stormy today, because the sky is red and darkening.’ You know how to judge correctly the appearance of the sky, but you cannot evaluate the signs of the times. 4 A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah.” Then he left them and went away.
O (Observation): Jesus has fed the 4,000 and healed many just before that. Now that the Pharisees and Saducees have Jesus attention, they ask him to show them a sign from heaven. Not sure what they really want, here…but we know they are not on the “Jesus train” yet. Perhaps they are simply looking for ways to discredit Jesus…
But Jesus does not fall into a trap.
Instead, Jesus recalls the sign that God worked with the story of Jonah. Jonah saw what God’s mercy looked like: a repentant Ninevah. And that still didn’t satisfy Jonah. Jesus is saying that neither will the Pharisees and Saducees appreciate a sign from heaven. They’ve made up their minds already to dismiss Jesus as “son of God.” So Jesus doesn’t see the need to show them a sign at all.
A (Application): Quite often, we look for signs from God. We pray for healing or for more money or for our team to win. Yet these fall short of signs from heaven.
These prayers, even prayers for healing, can be a bit selfish and narrow-minded in nature, especially if someone is suffering in their end-of-life stage. I do firmly believe in miracles of physical healing, and my grandmother is such a case. But prayer does not always equal physical or mental healing.
What do we do when the prayer does not result in healing? Or a win? We discredit God…or worse, we question our faith or even our salvation.
Instead, I propose a different posture. Prayer as communion with God. In this posture, our goal is to seek to be one with God. In doing so, we listen to God and discern God’s will for our lives and how we can love our neighbor.
Years ago, I was at the bedside of someone who said: “If I just prayed harder or prayed more, my husband would not have died!” She tortured herself. She wanted a sign of healing, but did not receive what she had hoped for.
What signs are we looking for? Should we be looking for God to change us as we pray? To change others? Think of a time when you prayed, and that prayer was answered in a different way than how you expected it.
I say we continue to pray…but in doing so, we seek communion with God…and not so much specific outcomes. And regardless of the results, we continue to believe that God is with us.
P (Prayer): Our Father in heaven…your will be done. Amen.