Summary: Message about demanding signs from God.
Asking Jesus to “Prove It.”
July 9, 2006
How many here are fans of westerns? You like reading them and watching them on TV or movies? It’s okay to admit it!
One of the more exciting things in these westerns are the gunfights that happen when someone makes a comment about someone else and the other guy steps into the street and says, “Prove it.”
What he’s saying is, “Do you have something in lead to back that up?”
Growing up, we tended to make exaggerations about stuff, right? Surely I’m not the only one!
And we’d be all confident in our claims until one of the kids said, “Prove it.” And then we’d be in a corner. We’d either have to prove it or be shown that we were not being truthful.
One of the more frustrating things in ministry is when you’re trying to share the love of Jesus with someone, and they come back with something like this:
“Have Jesus prove Himself to me, and then I’ll think about it.” I come across that every so often, and maybe you have as well.
Well, Jesus had the same problem with some people in his time.
We find an example of this in our passage for today, in Matthew 12:38-42 (p. 690) –
Then some of the Pharisees and teachers of the law said to him, "Teacher, we want to see a miraculous sign from you."
39 He answered, "A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a miraculous sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40 For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. 41 The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now one greater than Jonah is here. 42 The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon’s wisdom, and now one greater than Solomon is here.”
A “sign” was usually some miraculous token to be fulfilled quickly, or at once, to confirm a prophecy. The Jews were not asking for just another miracle, since they had already persuaded themselves that at least some of those Jesus had performed were of demonic agency (12:24); they were asking for a “sign” performed on command to remove what seemed to them to be the ambiguity of Jesus’ miracles. (Expositor’s Bible Commentary)
And Jesus says the only sign they’re going to get is the one where He dies and comes back to life. And if that’s not good enough, then that’s just too bad!
Today I want to address the whole issue of demanding signs from God. The context of our passage deals specifically with Jesus and His claims to be the Messiah, but I think this is a good opportunity to look at the whole idea of looking for signs – whether it’s for proof about Jesus or whether you’re looking for some sort of divine guidance through them.
And you can tell from the title of this section that I’m not too keen on the idea of coming to God looking for a sign, but I think you’ll be able to see why as we go through the message.
So let’s look at four reasons…
Why it’s inappropriate to demand signs from God:
1. God has already given many proofs.
I’m not going to spend a lot of time on these, but I want to show you just three ways God has proven Himself over time.
> The Bible.
The Bible is filled with eyewitness testimony of people who have seen God prove Himself over and over and over.
Let’s take just a moment to look at one part:
During the exodus, when God brought the Hebrews out of Egypt, He showed that He was so powerful that He could take any action necessary to free His people.
He sent plagues, warnings, and even parted the Red Sea so they could get through.
But to me, the fact that God was present among them in the pillar of smoke during the day and the pillar of fire at night is a big deal.
No one could say, “Yeah right – God exists. Prove it!” He was right there.
But the kicker was that even with God being present with them, going ahead of them to clear the way through their enemies, they still didn’t get it.
The people were still rebellious whiners. God had proven Himself, and it made no difference to them.