Summary: The danger of looking to external “signs” to guide you into God’s will. So how do you know if God is leading you?
I don’t recommend very many movies – and I especially don’t recommend the movie I’m about to mention. But sometimes lines spoken in movies jump off the screen and into the dictionary and become part of the way we think and speak – and inform us about ourselves and our attitudes.
In the movie "Jerry McGuire" – the character played by Tom Cruise is in a quandary. Fired from his old job as a sports agent, he must win new clients or risk losing his fledgling business, and his fledgling love interest, played by Renee Zelwiger. A young, talented, football player – played by Cuba Gooding Jr. – looks like a promising prospect.
But when Jerry tries to negotiate on his behalf – Cuba throws it back in his face: "Show me the money" he tells Jerry. You know the scene – he makes Jerry McGuire shout out "show me the money" until it’s echoing through the halls.
The line quickly entered the American lexicon as a way to say: "I don’t want just promises, I want results – show me the money!
It reflects the character of our society, and a common attitude. We want proof up front or we aint buyin’.
Sometimes we even make the same demands on God – "how do I know you are real – prove it!" or "how can I be sure I can trust you with my life and my problems – give me a sign!" Just how efficacious is this line of reasoning? Is it smart to ask God to "prove" Himself? Let’s take a look.
Today we’re going to look at the last half of Matthew chapter 12 as the religious leaders of His day, always His nemesis, make similar demands – and get a response they probably didn’t bargain for.
38 Then some of the Pharisees and teachers of the law said to him, "Teacher, we want to see a miraculous sign from you."
The Pharisees and Scribes were not seeking to know Jesus – they had already decided not to believe, all they wanted was evidence – a chance to prove He was NOT who He said He was.
Often people want God "proved" before they will believe – "show me tangible evidence that I can see with my eyes." Jesus throws it right back at them.
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.
The only "sign" Jesus would give was the sign of His own death, burial and resurrection. That’s all that really matters, it’s the "core essential" of our faith – and should be THE thing we rely upon – not always wanting more and more and more.
This brings up the point that people who don’t know Jesus can’t be "won" over by miracles – we should point them to the REAL miracle – Jesus death and resurrection for them. Those who have set their hearts against the Lord won’t benefit from special miracles either – that’s why the only focus should be on the risen Lord.
But the question for us who already believe is this: How often do we want the Lord to "prove" Himself by doing our bidding visibly? How much do we rely on "miracles" and "signs" to "prove" to ourselves that God is among us or blessing us, or approving of us?
I personally think it is a mistake to rely on "signs of God’s presence" like words from the Lord, or prophecies, or miracles. That is not to say that they are unimportant – but to use these "words" as the only way to move us is a recipe for getting lost. In fact, some Christians use the gifts of the Spirit in order to validate their own spirituality instead of what gifts and miracles were designed to do: point people to Jesus.
In fact, turn to Acts 9:36-43. Here we find the story of Dorcas – who died, and whom the Lord, through Peter, brought back to life. But look at verse 42: "This became known all over Joppa, and many people believed in the Lord." This miracle had the correct outcome – people got saved. That’s when the Lord often moves in the miraculous – not just so we can be satisfied or glorified.
A further question is this: Do you have to have a "sign" in order to trust the Lord?