Mt15 39-16:12 - Signs

Matt. 15:39-16:12 - Signs jcparalyticJesus is confronted by the Jewish leaders/teachers who demand that he perform a sign to prove his claims. Jesus shuts them down saying that all the signs they need are all around them already. Jesus has used signs and wonders to confirm a believer’s faith or in fulfillment of prophecy. He doesn’t use signs to “convert” unbelievers or to battle with the religious opposition.

My friend Steve is always quoting Jesus’ promise to his disciples that all that they see him doing they will also do (Mark 16:15-18). Alas, as a Biblical studies major, my first thought is who is this passage meant for and what is the context before we go about saying that everyone should start to have poison with their breakfast cereal. Well, the verse is meant for the church as part of the Great Commission and the signs clearly will follow those how believe. But are the signs part of Jesus’ evangelism strategy (as some seem to imply)? Well, let’s just put it this way, Jesus’ ministry was bathed in signs and those without the heart to see them didn’t. Should we expect anything better or imagine that we’d have greater success reaching the unsaved if we just had more “signs and wonders” as part of our lives? That’s a big “no!” We’re meant to see that Jesus has given us, his church, the same authority over creation that he exercised, but, for me the big miracle is having the eyes to see all of the extraordinary things God is doing all around us in the ordinary course of our lives. All of which is missed by those who don’t believe in Jesus.

The last part of the passage, Jesus’ warning to his disciples to be on their guard against the “yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees,” shows how easy it is for those of us who have spent time with Jesus to get his teaching wrong. I don’t think that the Apostles were stupid, but we can be just a bit too literal. It’s amazing, after spending the years they’d spent with him, they could only think about bread until he spelled it out to them. That also hasn’t changed much in 2,000 years. The question, however, for me, remains: what was the teaching of the Pharisees and Saduccees that he was warning them about? More thought is required on that one. If I were to connect the two sections (the Pharisees demanding a sign and Jesus’ warning) than I might wonder if it’s something about requiring some supernatural proof for his authority or the coming of the Kingdom of God. Anyway, all of this makes me very cautious about flaunting the wonders of God in our midst and assuming that one can “proof” the kingdom of God before unbelieving eyes. 10/10/2004 JBB