19 October 2013

Matthew 12:38-50

"An evil and adulterous generation asks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For just as Jonah was for three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster, so for three days and three nights the Son of Man will be in the heart of the earth." (vv. 39-40)


The scribes and Pharisees are asking for a sign. But Jesus replies that no sign will be given except the "sign of the prophet Jonah". As Jonah spent three days and nights in the "sea monster" and rose again, so Jesus will be resurrected. And this, Jesus' death and resurrection, is the only sign we will be given.

In a world full of insecurity and doubt we want to know that 'everything will be alright'. Sometimes we think that if only God would give us a sign that we are on the right track - that God is with us - we would feel safe.

But Jesus says that we are not to expect miraculous signs to keep our faith alive. The empty cross is our sign - the once and for all guarantee of our forgiveness through Jesus Christ.

There can be no greater sign.

Sometimes God does give signs to those who need them. But sometimes, certain Christian lives are lived out without any feelings of comfort and assurance.   Mother Theresa wrote of how she spent long years of her ministry without feeling that God was with her at all.

Perhaps, in this way, God tests faith so that it can grow in strength, leaving it to stand unsupported by signs and comforts, like a child taking its first steps. But, in this testing, God is still present with us.

To Ponder

  • Have you ever asked for a sign from God? What caused you to make such a request? What was God's response?
  • Are there periods in your life when you have felt as if God has abandoned you? With hindsight, how do you see that time now?

Bible notes author

Dave Webster

Dave Webster works for the Connexional Team as internet communications coordinator. He is responsible for this website and other internet-based projects for the Methodist Church.