Good morning, happy Wednesday, and many blessings.
Today’s Gospel (Luke 11:29-32) remind us that it's common enough among Christians to search for signs, assurances for us that our decisions have God's approval. For some of us, one method used to attain this end is to open the Bible at a random page and to read the first verses our eyes fall on. Hopefully, the verses we read will give us some insight into whether or not God approves of a decision we have come to. Another method is to look at the experiences we have in daily life to determine whether in them God is saying anything to us about a particular problem we're trying to solve or a change we're thinking of instituting in our way of life.
The crowd about Jesus in today's gospel apparently has been pushing him to give them a sign. They wanted God, at Jesus' behest, to intervene somehow, to assure them that God approves of Jesus' words and works. We read the gospels with the eyes of faith. To us the crowd's request seems utterly foolish. I mean, Jesus' extraordinary goodness and the startling miracles he worked are signs enough. There's no need to "cut the Bible," that is to open the Bible at random and read the first verses our eyes fall on, to assure us that God approves of him. Jesus and his words and works are self-authenticating.
Sometimes we think that it would be a great thing if Jesus were to appear among us today. You know, feeling him physically present to us, hearing with our own ears his voice as he preaches, and witnessing his works . . . it would so easy to embrace the transformation he offers. Much easier than it is today. Today we have only the gospel account of his life. We don't have the living person.
What’s so bad about wanting a sign from Jesus? Doesn’t it make sense to get a little authentication from someone when he’s making some pretty incredible claims? One thing we have to understand about Jesus is that He never came up short in His ministry or left things out. He has perfectly given us all that we needed. The big question for everyone who interacts with Him is, “What is it that you really want—Jesus Himself or something else?” This question is just as applicable for us today as it was for those in Jesus’s day.
We need to understand that Jonah is the sign of God’s care for all. His call was to go to a far country who did not know him or his God. He is also a sign of God’s care for us individually – his care was for Jonah’s safety. Jonah’s strength was in his trust in God. Prayer is a time of allowing trust in God to grow and become a central part of our being.
The people were looking about them, ready to perceive some sign of God’s working, keen to notice some proof that Jesus was who he said he was. The problem was that they were looking outside. Jesus calls us instead to become sensitive to how God works in us. He calls us to be awake, vigilant, and perceptive. He gives us the Holy Spirit to help us to recognize where God is at work in our hearts. The signs around us may confirm what God is teaching us but they won’t be all we have to rely on.