The Confirmation of Faith

The Confirmation of Faith

Matthew 16:1-4

“An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign; and a sign will not be given, except the sin of Jonah.”

 

            Sometimes, in our faith, we want a sign, a dramatic event that is clearly from God that confirms our faith.  We read in the scriptures the supernatural acts of God, the parting of the Red Sea, the raising of Lazarus from the dead, and the visions of Paul of heaven, and we wonder if only we could see those things, then our faith would be confirmed and validated.  Instead, we struggle because Heaven seems silent in our struggles.  

            In our passage, the Pharisees and Sadducees came to Jesus and demanded a sign.  The fact that they were coming together immediately raises red flags, for these two groups were bitterly divided because of their different theological perspectives.  The Pharisees were the theological legalists, while the Sadducees were the theological liberalists, and so they were in constant battle for popularity and control of the influential Sanhedrin.  For them to come together implied that they were coming to trap Jesus rather than genuinely want to determine if Jesus was indeed the Messiah. The only thing that they could agree upon was their opposition to Jesus.  So, the question was not one of genuinely seeking truth; it was to try and set a trap for Jesus.

            In response, Jesus brings quick condemnation.  If they genuinely believed, they would not need a sign or miraculous event, for faith is completely trusting in God and his Word.  Conversely, if a person does not believe, no amount of miraculous work will convince them of the true identity of Jesus and the truth of His word.  No matter how many signs Jesus gives, they will still want one more.  

            Jesus points to only one sign that will prove his identity: the sign of Jonah.  This is the exact point that Jesus made in 12:39.  In that passage, Jesus clarifies that the character he is talking about is his death, burial, and resurrection.  His resurrection is the most significant proof of the validity of Christ and his message.  So critical is the resurrection as confirmation of our faith; Paul affirms that our faith is in vain if the resurrection does not happen.  Many have claimed to have supernatural powers, but only one person in history has returned from the dead of his own volition and power.  It is what distinguishes Christ from all other religious leaders and what distinguishes Christianity from every other religion.  

            The resurrection affirms that Jesus was who he claimed to be.  He was not just a religious teacher; he was not just a moral person; he was the God himself in the flesh.  Second, it affirms his teaching that he is the only way to God.  Jesus made it clear throughout his ministry that there is no other way to obtain salvation except through him.  Every other religion is proven to be false.

            We do not need another sign or miracle to affirm our faith.  Our faith is grounded in Christ's person, work, and resurrection.  In his death, Jesus proved his love for us.  When circumstances undercut our faith, and we begin to doubt God’s care for us, all we have to do is look at the cross.  John writes in 1 John 3:16, “We know love by this, that he laid down His life for us.”  When the plethora of religions and their claims to be the way to God begin to undermine our faith that Jesus is the only way and all other ways are false, all we need to do is look to the empty tomb.  In the resurrection, he proved the legitimacy of his claim.  If we reject these two proofs, no miraculous sign would be sufficient to prove to us the truthfulness of Christ and his message.  Faith is not looking for more signs but accepting the proof already given. 

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