“Teacher, we want to see a sign from You” (Mt. 12:38). With this, Jesus’ enemies demanded a miraculous sign from Him that would prove He was the promised Lord and Christ who was to come and redeem Israel.
In response Jesus characterized these sign-seekers as being a part of “an evil and adulterous generation,” saying that the only sign He would give them was the “sign of the prophet Jonah”: “For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (v.40).
This one great sign given to the religious skeptics and to all the world pictured Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection as the Lord and Savior of the world.
From the time of Christ to the present, people have vainly demanded to see signs and wonders before they will believe anything about the Lord. In our day we have heard skeptics say: “If there is really a loving God in heaven, I want Him to prove it to me with a special sign and show me that He loves me personally.”
In various situations of life, if we were inclined to walk by sight and not by faith, we too could fall prey to the temptation of expecting God to give us a sign that would satisfy our human senses. Doubting Thomas responded to the eyewitness accounts of Jesus’ resurrection by saying: “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe” (Jn. 20:25).
When Jesus’ enemies demanded a sign from Him, their unbelief wasn’t due to a lack of proof, but rather due to their unwillingness to accept the words and teachings of Jesus. Having turned a deaf ear to Jesus’ Word, their eyes were closed to His mighty signs and wonders that manifested His divine Sonship and His heavenly calling as the Savior. Even when Jesus rose from the dead (thus fulfilling the “sign of the prophet Jonah”), the religious skeptics still didn’t believe, because their hardened hearts had rejected the Word of God.
Testimony Of The Word
And besides, saving faith doesn’t come through seeing signs, but through the hearing of God’s Word (Rom. 10:17). Jesus brought out this important truth in His parable of the rich man and Lazarus. When the rich man cried out in hell for Lazarus to be resurrected and appear to his brothers so that they would believe and not end up in hell, the answer came back to him: “They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. . . . If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead” (Lk. 16:29,31).
When Jesus appeared to Thomas and showed Himself alive, He made this declaration which reminds us of the saving grace we enjoy as Christians: “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (Jn. 20:29). It is through the miracle of God’s grace working through the Word of God that we believe in the crucified and risen Jesus. Through the testimony of God’s Word we know by faith that Jesus’ resurrection gives evidence of Jesus being our Lord and Savior God (cf. Rom. 1:4, 1 Cor. 15:12ff.).
And through the Word of God we have come to believe that God loves us personally, for the very resurrection of Jesus is a sure sign of this. The apostle Paul declares: “(Jesus) was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification” (Rom. 4:25). Jesus’ resurrection shows us that the heavenly Father accepted Jesus’ redemptive work for us and has declared us forgiven and righteous through Him.
Praise be to God for enabling us to walk by faith instead of by sight.
–Pastor Mark Gullerud