How many of you have ever thought that it would be SO much easier to believe in God if he would just give you some sort of sign? If he would just speak to me directly… If he would just show me once and for all… If he would just (________), then I would (____________).
Throughout history mankind has desired and sought after “signs and wonders” from the gods. Especially now that we live in such a science-driven, secular society, we think that the only way to truly believe something is to have tangible evidence. Honestly, the ancients weren’t much different. They didn’t just blindly believe in things they could never experience or test.
Ever since humanity first stepped on the scene we have been faced with death. It’s the one experience we know better than any other. Was it any easier for the ancients to believe a dead person had come back to life? Absolutely not. They needed some type of proof.
And some of them got proof.
And that seems unfair to us.
The thing we need to realize, though, is that even when we are staring the evidence in the face, it doesn’t mean we’ll automatically believe and everything will be better.
- Some people got to see the resurrected Christ face to face – and they still didn’t believe (Matthew 28:17).
- Peter was able to hear God’s voice and see Jesus transfigured into his true divine nature right before his eyes (Mark 9:2-7), but he still denied him three times (Mark 14:66-72).
- The Israelites were given so many signs from God that it’s hard to count. They heard God speak, they saw his power, they witnessed his Glory fill the Tabernacle and the Temple – and they still rebelled and sinned against him.
The reality is that seeing doesn’t always lead to believing.
Maybe on some cognitive level it would be reassuring to know for a fact that God is omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent. But that cognitive assurance does not equal faith. Those who want to believe will believe. Those who refuse to believe will refuse to believe even in light of solid evidence.
Faith is a choice.
In Mark 8, some Pharisees came to “test” Jesus. They asked for a sign from heaven. Note that they didn’t ask for a sign from God, but a sign from heaven. The implication, according to some commentators, is that they were seeking some type of apocalyptic sign, i.e. a sign that would demonstrate the restoration of Israel and the judgment against their oppressors and the Gentiles. Simply put, they probably wanted a sign to show them that Jesus was who they thought he should be.
But Jesus did not come to bring judgment on the Gentiles. In fact he had just come from feeding thousands of them. Can you sense the irony? So, no. That sign would not be given.
Another irony is that Jesus had given signs time and time again. Mark’s account is full of them to this point. He had calmed the seas (twice!), he had healed incurable diseases, he had shown his ability to forgive sins, he had even raised a dead girl back to life.
And they want a sign? No, Jesus did not owe them another sign if they are simply going to ignore all the others.
So what about us?
Well, if we’re honest with ourselves God has given us plenty of signs already. We just have to open our eyes to see them.
- We want God to speak to us. He already has through his Son, Jesus (Hebrews 1:1-2).
- We want to know what God’s will for us is, how we’re supposed to live, what we’re supposed to believe, etc. He’s already given us everything we need (2 Peter 1:3-4).
- We think that if we could just see a miracle or a sign we would believe. Like Thomas we want to see for ourselves the power of Jesus before we fully commit. But we have something better! The Holy Spirit actually lives in us and is there for us always (John 16:7).
- We just want God to make his presence and his power plain to us. But all we have to do is look around (Romans 1:18-20).